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The Retention Game – Q&A with Simon Briffa, Internal Talent Manager

by Sellick Partnership | 20 January 2017

Simon Briffa joined Sellick Partnership in January 2015 as Internal Talent Manager. His primary role is to help attract and retain talent, as well as co-ordinating internal training and employee development. We sat down with Simon to discuss employee retention, and how employers can attract high-calibre talent to their business.

What has your career been like to date and how did you start working at Sellick Partnership?
I started off my career in sales and quickly progressed into recruitment with another organisation. I found the HR side of the role very interesting so I decided to study towards my CIPD qualification which led me to my current role with Sellick Partnership.

What does a typical working day look like at Sellick Partnership?
Everyday varies greatly but my main responsibility is to deal with internal recruitment so I tend interview a lot of candidates both in person and over the phone. When interviewing I am keen to find people that have the same values as Sellick Partnership and who will fit in with our company culture. This can often mean that the interview process is quite lengthy, but it is really important. Ensuring that you have the right staff in the right roles is one of the most important aspects of building a successful business, so making sure I find candidates that are the right fit is my top priority. Getting it wrong can be costly and even more time consuming.

I also am also responsible for organising internal training and development at Sellick Partnership. This includes facilitating courses in health and performance, successful communication, sales, visits and interviews, all of which supports our employees and helps with their professional and personal development. More recently I have also been given the responsibility of managing our internal HR function, ensuring that staff have someone to refer to with any HR related queries.

What steps do Sellick Partnership take to ensure employees feel valued and happy?
Speaking and listening are of equal importance to us as we want all our employees to feel part of the team, and believe their ideas are heard, considered and often acted upon. We cannot achieve our vision, continually improve, or create a culture of trust without listening to the needs of our staff. In order to achieve this we ensure each member of staff has access to training and development opportunities that we decide via their personalised personal development plan (PDP). 

Within monthly reviews and PDP reviews both the employee and line manager are given the opportunity to provide feedback and also discuss any issues or training needs. Employees are given the opportunity to discuss this in person, or submit it in written form prior to the meeting so their manager is aware. This enables each individual to map out a plan that Sellick Partnership as a business can support and help them achieve. By constantly listening to our employees, and taking an active interest in their wellbeing and progression we are able to adapt to their needs, and help them achieve their full potential with the business.

Our brand is also very important to us, and we do a lot of work around ensuring we sustain a positive employer brand. We want our staff to feel valued and to be proud of where they work. Each year we organise a number of events for charity to help us maintain our employer brand, and actively encourage the business to get involved. Our most popular event has to be the annual Manchester Professionals’ Cricket League (MPCL) that will be in its ninth year this year. Other events include the Manchester Professionals’ Football League (MPFL), The Derby Football League and The MPCL Awards Lunch, all of which raise a considerable amount of money for charity each year.

What advice would you give to HR professionals regarding employee retention?
Organisations need to realise that each employee is different and will have different needs and motivations, and that they must therefore tailor benefits to suit rather than implementing ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for the whole organisation. Giving your staff the opportunity to pick and choose the benefits they want is invaluable in my opinion. 

My advice would therefore be to ensure you really understand the needs of your employees, and implement benefits that will suit. Sellick Partnership is a business driven by sales, and as a result we tailor our benefits around rewards and ensure employees get the recognition they deserve.

In your experience, are there any benefits and perks which particularly appeal to employees?
We have a range of initiatives in place at Sellick Partnership to reward the success, extra effort and hard work of individuals and teams across the business. To reflect our vision we want to ensure all members of staff feel that they are acknowledged for their hard work and rewarded for their commitment to the business. In my experience I have found that flexible working appeals to everyone, and is a really important perk here at Sellick Partnership. Giving people the freedom to come in a bit later, or go home a bit earlier is vital to helping them achieve a healthy work/life balance. Additional perks that Sellick Partnership staff enjoy include our pension scheme and our Medicare programme. Helping to keep our employees happy and healthy.

Additionally we have created a social environment that in my opinion, is unique. We ensure that all of our employees have the opportunity to socialise outside of work at varying points throughout the year including our annual Teambuilding event or one of our many sporting initiatives. Our End of Financial Year Awards are designed to celebrate the success of the business as a whole, but also the efforts of individuals from the previous 12 months. I believe by doing this we are working hard to create a culture that promotes friendliness and overall creates a happy and reliable workforce.

What are the key differences that employees should consider when trying to retain employees of varying ages?
It is not necessarily about age in my opinion, I would say it is more about catering for individual needs as much as possible. Employee motivations can change throughout their career so it is crucial to review benefits and remuneration packages on a regular basis.

What tips would you give to businesses that want to increase their employee retention rate?
Again I would say it is essential that organisations listen to staff. Simply by listening to your employees you will be able to adapt to suit their needs, and as a result keep them happy and motivated to stay. Organisations that do not do this will inevitably have a higher turnover rate than an employer that actively gets involved with employees, and takes a real interest in their well-being and professional development.

Find out more about what employers can do to retain staff in our "Retention Game" blog series:

  • The issues employers face retaining staff in a competitive market
  • Why do employees leave?
  • Using social media to develop your employer brand
  • Solutions for successful employee retention