how to retain staff

How to retain staff?

How to retain staff?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, working practices have changed almost beyond recognition, with many employees re-evaluating their work-life balance and hybrid and remote working now the norm for many.

The widening gap between the workplace environment expected by employees and that provided by many employers has led to a so-called ‘talent crunch’, forcing employers to consider more than ever what makes their business an attractive place to work in order to attract staff and retain their top talent.

Why you should aim to retain existing employees?

There are clear business benefits of retaining staff – not the least of which is a more successful business which is agile and capable of optimising opportunities for growth.

High staff turnover is expensive in terms of business growth and productivity, as well as being bad for company culture and morale.  Conversely, increased retention can help organisations to reduce costs, build a distinct and more resilient corporate culture and a stronger and happier workforce. As ambassadors of for your business, your staff represent a huge business asset.

Business benefits of increasing staff retention include:

  • An effective workforce and lower recruitment costs – providing professional development opportunities to nurture existing talent is considerably more cost effective and productive than spending time and valuable resources on recruiting and training new employees.
  • Increased productivity and revenue – a stable, long-term staff are more loyal, share your company values and are fully engaged in working to achieve your business goals. They are generally more productive, leading to increased revenue.
  • A knowledgeable workforce – experienced staff are more knowledgeable and skilled – they know what needs to be done to achieve business goals and help the business grow to the benefit of the business and its customers.
  • Teamwork – established staff members develop more effective collaborative working relationships and a deeper understanding of each other’s skills, creating a more supportive team that delivers higher-quality customer service.
  • Healthy company culture – Increasing employee happiness and job satisfaction directly leads to a more positive working environment and higher team morale, resulting in a business where staff can see a future for themselves.
  • Reputation – people want to work for organisations with good reputations.

Regardless of the size of your organisation or the sector within which you operate, it is important for all of these reasons to have effective retention strategies in place.

Why do staff leave?

It is important to know why employees leave because it can signify deeper problems within the organisation.

Insights into the causes of staff turnover enable them to be directly addressed and resolved with the objective of retaining valued employees.

Some of the most common include:

  • Poor work-life balance
  • Lack of flexible working
  • Low staff morale
  • High turnover of staff
  • Poor management and leadership
  • Inadequate salary
  • Lack of career progression
  • Lack of job satisfaction
  • Lack of career advancement, training and development opportunities
  • Feeling undervalued and seeking more recognition
  • Poor working conditions
  • Poor business reputation
  • Lack of job security
  • More compelling job opportunities

Tips on how to retain employees

To retain high-performing employees, it is important to address the above and actively adopt effective staff retention strategies.

Every business will have unique requirements and it is important to focus on effective and relevant strategies that will be valued by your workforce.

  1. Employ the right people – ensure that your hiring process is robust and reflects your business and the role you are seeking to fill.
  2. Effective onboarding – An effective and continually improved mentoring and induction programme will help ensure new employees understand your business’ values and norms and form good relationships with colleagues.
  3. Employee engagement – ensure that everyone understands their role and how it impacts wider business goals.  Recognise and reward effort, as well as achievements within the team and celebrate wins.
  4. Salaries – pay competitive salaries, based on people’s performance and experience.
  5. Benefits – offer a benefits and perks package that is informed by the needs of staff e.g. flexible working, health and well-being benefits or sporty and creative perks.
  6. CPD – Provide continuous personal and professional development opportunities to demonstrate that you value staff and their career progression.
  7. Work-life balance – respect employees’ time away from work in order to maintain healthy working relationships with them. This could include remote and/or flexible work, job shares or reduced workdays.
  8. Work culture – research shows that employees place a high priority on work culture and good relationships with their coworkers, both of which impact positively on productivity. Build a culture that new employees want to join and existing ones feel passionate about. Treat everyone fairly and regularly review employee performance and satisfaction.  Involve your staff in decision-making and make sure your workplace is diverse and inclusive to attract and retain a wide pool of talent.
  9. Leadership – ensure your organisation has effective management and leadership that is respected by your workforce.

Having processes in place to help recognise and retain employees and their value within the business, such as investing in their training and development, building a healthy work culture and providing effective leadership, helps to create and maintain a happy, productive and successful workforce.

How to improve employee retention even further?

Understanding why staff leave can help inform new strategies and practices to encourage staff to stay as part of a motivated and productive workforce.

Writing in the Harvard Business (Review 6 Strategies to Boost Retention Through the Great Resignation) Frank Breitling, Julia Dhar, Ruth Ebeling, and Deborah Lovich say that what all employees want from work is value, purpose, certainty and belonging. These issues/priorities need to be recognised and addressed in your staff retention programme.

They suggest that six measures will have the greatest impact:

  1. Incentivise loyalty
  2. Provide opportunities to grow
  3. Elevate your purpose
  4. Prioritise culture and connection
  5. Invest in taking care of your employees and their families
  6. Embrace flexibility

Get feedback from staff

Employee retention is vitally important to the operation of a successful business. Strategies to improve retention and motivation must be informed by what is most valued by your workforce and this will vary business by business.

Benefits and rewards which do not reflect your employee’s needs will not be valued and provide little motivation for them to be loyal to your business and to stay.

Staff feedback is essential to gain useful insights and help identify areas for improvement. Look out for patterns of behaviour and make sure staff have opportunities to provide feedback through individual discussions and staff surveys.

Knowing why staff leave is key to increasing staff retention and interesting insights can be gained through a well-constructed exit interview.


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