Four ways to hang onto your best staff

Written by Vernon Cheung

January 19, 2015

With the January job-hunting season in full swing, LinkedIn’s Pierre Berlin recommends bigging up internal opportunities to calm those itchy feet.

For many, the start of a new year is a time for resolutions, whether that means a healthier lifestyle, visiting new places, or calling mum more often. And, for many people reflecting on the year ahead, that also includes getting a new job.

This is great news for chief executives looking to increase headcount in 2015 – all these people looking for new jobs represent a buzzing pool of potential talent. But with as many as 85 percent of professionals open to new job opportunities, according to LinkedIn data, the chances are that this includes at least some of your own staff too.

Losing talent is an expensive business: organisations lose the fruits of their investment in staff training and development, and the value of those people’s experiences. They then have to pay to recruit and train new talent. This costs roughly R594-million every business year.

That means retention should be at the top of every business’s to do list at this time of year. But what can employers do to reassure potentially wavering employees that their interests will be best served by staying put?

1. Give them the bigger picture

It is important to give employees exposure to areas of the business beyond their day jobs and to encourage and reward adaptability. Well-rounded employees who have a broader perspective on your organisation will be better able to apply new skills to their present roles, and will be better placed to request opportunities for new experiences that will keep them fulfilled.

2. Be internally mobile

Often, employees choose to leave because they can’t see an opportunity within their company to continue their professional development in the way they would like. It might seem premature, but emphasising the potential to move around within your company even at an employee’s induction, shows them you have their long-term job satisfaction and career development in mind.

Companies can have ‘blind spots’ when it comes to their own talent, though. The perfect candidate for a new role may be sitting just down the corridor, or in one of your overseas offices. And it may be more cost-efficient to reassign or relocate an existing employee than to invest in hiring someone new and bringing them up to speed.

Social media sites and internal networks can help you keep track of employees’ skills and experience. But the biggest favour businesses can do themselves is to be proactive about using this information to seek out suitable internal candidates for opportunities when they arise.

3. Show them the money

Not everyone has such high-minded motivations though – the fact is, some people will be considering a change of scenery because they think they can make more money elsewhere. Alternatively, they might feel that they are being underpaid for their current job. Make sure you are constantly aware of employees’ skills and experience, and the work they are doing, so that you can offer them a package that best reflects their value to your organisation. Benchmarking your salary scale against your peers can also help maintain your competitive edge.

4. Stay in touch

Organisations are increasingly aware of the importance of projecting the right ‘talent brand’ to external job candidates and potential future staff, but it is just as important to continue to sell yourself to your existing employees.

People are much more likely to consider leaving if they feel that they, and their contributions, are not valued or recognised – and that goes beyond the pay packet they take home at the end of every month. Having structures in place for constructive feedback to be shared between employer and employee – and vice versa – is crucial. Regular performance reviews, employee forums, and the like are good ways to ensure that any issues are quickly identified and acted upon; and that any doubts and concerns are not allowed to fester into the desire to leave.

In today’s hugely competitive market for talent, employee retention is a priority you cannot afford to ignore – particularly at a time of year when employees are especially susceptible to temptation from gardens with greener-looking grass.

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