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The retention game: solutions for successful employee retention

by Sellick Partnership | 15 September 2016

Over the course of our ‘Retention Game’ series, we have been looking at how businesses can ensure they retain and attract high-calibre talent and protect their bottom line. By looking at some of the issues outlined previously we aim to highlight ways in which businesses can ensure they retain and attract high-calibre talent and protect their bottom line.

In order to sustain a happy workforce organisations need to ensure they are adapting to the needs of their staff and offering employees an attractive working culture. This culture should include a clear path for development, structured benefits and rewards packages in an environment focused on keeping employees satisfied and motivated at work. In addition business leaders also need to consider strategies that take into account the changing behaviours of workers and adopt systems to ensure relationships within the business remain positive, their employer brand stays intact, and processes are in place to ensure knowledge is not lost.

The need for a strong employee/employer relationship

Building and nurturing strong relationships within your team is vital to the overall productivity and success of your business. Relationships are built on mutual respect and trust, which must be gained over time. Managers therefore have a responsibility to foster positive relationships with their employees as this will impact how successful a member of staff is within the business. An excellent leader will not only be able to successfully facilitate their own day-to-day tasks, but will also efficiently and effectively manage their team to success.

Employer/employee relationships vary enormously as they are built on a foundation of individual characteristics and behaviours, and it is vital that expectations are managed at the start of the relationship. Some managers choose to keep distance between themselves and their employees and prefer not to become overly familiar with their team members. Other managers are happy to strengthen relationships with their team in this way, making themselves more relatable and approachable. There are advantages and disadvantages of both approaches and it completely depends on the company culture and also the individuals themselves as to which is the most appropriate.

At Sellick Partnership our culture is transparent and open among staff and senior management, and employee/employer relationships are strengthened through monthly performance reviews, personal development plans (PDPs) and teambuilding events.

Successful companies therefore must ensure management know how to balance being professional whilst remaining personable and approachable. To achieve the correct relationship balance managers should be coached and trained to ensure that all senior personnel in the business are fair with their leadership style and are working in accordance to company policy. Successful leaders should be able to celebrate success but also deal with problems without harming relationships with staff and peers. A breakdown in this relationship can affect business culture and team dynamics, and if not resolved can ultimately affect an organisation’s brand image and the profitability of the business overall. 

Battling corporate amnesia
The implications of high staff turnover can be substantial often having a wider effect on overall profitability and success. Organisations are at risk of losing knowledge as a result of poor staff retention, a concept often referred to as ‘corporate amnesia’ which we explored in our previous blog, The retention game: the issues employers face retaining staff in a competitive market. Losing experienced workers due to retirement, bad management or an influx of untrained talent, can lead to a loss of information and valuable resource, leaving an organisation vulnerable to change. 

Regardless of new recruits’ age or level of experience, if an effective handover and training programme is not completed essential knowledge and critical skills may be lost. The concerns also apply for a constant influx of new staff in a growing business. Younger, less experienced staff may view a role in your organisation as a stepping stone for career progression, and have no plans to stay for any length of time. If this is the case, a regular flow of new employees coming through the business may cause disruption and lead to a loss of knowledge commonly known as ‘corporate amnesia’.

To help minimise the impact corporate amnesia can have on business, organisations should consider building and maintaining comprehensive handover processes that can be implemented across the company. Handovers will vary massively depending on the team and department, but a generic process should be put in place that can be loosely followed across the organisation. A document of guidance notes detailing how to go about a handover process should be used to ensure basic information is gathered, and then extensive handover meetings and sessions are needed with the existing team to ensure all information is collated. In addition to this, strategies to store and retain information such as advanced storage systems and extensive backup drives as well as extensive in-house meetings can be effective at ensuring the correct information is being relayed and keeping the flow of information between staff steady. 

Solutions like this can also be effective in bridging the gap when new recruits join the business. Training and coaching new staff can be a timely and expensive process if the correct information is not easily accessible. By having a comprehensive training and development programme, experienced trainers and thorough data collection procedures, organisations will be better placed to deal with unexpected changes to the organisation and any sudden influxes of new inexperienced staff. 

The need for a strong employer brand

A clear and defined employer brand can offer significant benefits to your organisation. It can somewhat improve the number of applications and put your business in the enviable position of having a broad pool of talent to consider. In tight recruitment markets, where competition for high-calibre talent is fierce, a strong employer brand can also help keep the organisation in the minds of candidates, make your company stand out in a crowded market and provide compelling reasons for candidates to join your company rather than going elsewhere.

Employer branding is a combination of a company’s image and reputation, and is achieved not only by promoting a strong visual identity, but also through all other business elements – from values, benefits packages, location and social media activity to training and development opportunities. The senior management team is ultimately responsible for maintaining your employer brand with both internal and external stakeholders. It is no longer enough to simply rely on financial incentives to attract top talent, and instead business leaders should adopt new innovative approaches to make themselves appealing and attract top talent to the business. 

Our recent blog; Use social media to develop your employer brand examines how business leaders can use social media platforms as a new approach to help attract and retain top talent to the business, and how this can be an effective tool for employee retention.

Create an employee-centric environment
An employee-centric workplace is one where all individuals training, programmes and processes are focused on helping employees become the best they can. Individuals that feel valued will provide an excellent service, which has a direct impact on the business. In such an environment, everyone wins: employees, management, customers, vendors, and other stakeholders.

Creating an employee-centric environment is not an easy task and the responsibility lies again with the senior management team to build an environment which enables employees to be successful. Some practices employers can implement to ensure a positive working environment are:

  • Provide an open platform for employee development, complete with external and internal training to enable them to grow with the business. 
  • Ensure that employee contributions are noted and taken into consideration, employees that are encouraged to play an active role in the business will be more inclined and motivated to help it succeed.
  • Recognise and reward employees' contributions to the organisation in ways that are meaningful to the individuals involved. Top performers will excel with extra bonuses and a public display of their achievements, and be spurred on to continue and achieve more next time.
  • Build and implement an effective and fair benefits policy. Being flexible with working hours and allowing for a better work/life balance can often go a long way towards improving work morale and motivation, and will also help build a positive employee/employer relationship.
  • Take into consideration changing behaviours and values, and build remuneration packages to suit will also benefit business in the long-term. The younger generation will instinctively apply for roles with a competitive salary, excellent benefits, and frequent recognition with better opportunities for growth. PwC’s recent Millennials At Work report found that career progression is the top priority for millennials who expect to rise rapidly through the organisation. 52 percent of those surveyed said this was the main attraction in an employer, coming ahead of competitive salaries in second place (44 percent). The report also cited that more senior employees are generally more likely to be motivated by a better work/life balance, and added extras like pensions and private healthcare.

The working day should not be a chore for employees, and as long as you have the correct people in the correct job and take steps in building a happy workforce you will see the long-term benefits. It is therefore essential that all businesses have an effective retention strategy in place that is regularly reviewed. No business can succeed without careful consideration of the issues raised in our previous two blogs ‘Employee retention – the issues employers face retaining staff in a competitive market’, and ‘Employee retention – why do employees leave’ and how best to deal with them. The happiest and most effectively trained employees are those belonging to companies that are employee-centred, are well managed and view their staff as the biggest asset they have.

To read read the full blog sereies please visit The Retention Game section of our website.