How to attract and retain staff

Published: 27 Jan 2009

As employers exhaust both their time and money, it is important that new recruits do not leave after a short stint. To avoid this, employers need to ensure that they provide their employees with a vibrant, supportive and challenging work environment that will secure their services for years. 

There are six primary reasons why people leave their jobs:

  1. Management – poor management or a personality clash in the workplace
  2. Salary – underpaid and their peers in the same role are getting a better deal
  3. Career progression – their career path and progression is not mapped out for them and they have no goal to work toward
  4. Work environment – unstimulating or not a good cultural fit.
  5. Commuting – too much of a nightmare to get to work and back.
  6. Decline in job enjoyment and satisfaction – want a career change.

Skills shortage is urging employers to implement strategies into their work environment that will attract staff and more importantly retain them.

Eight tips on what to do

1. Appoint appropriate and skilled managers. Managing staff is a skill that very few people have and it takes years of experience to get it right. Employees need to respect their direct reports and want to perform for them. Staff should be praised, encouraged and mentored. They should also be disciplined when appropriate, but when this occurs it should be crystal clear to the staff member as to why it is happening.

2. Ensure employees are paid the market salary for their position, or slightly above. There are numerous salary surveys available that specify what the current salary level is for a particular job. Employers should add in other benefits such as medical insurance, gym membership, bonus days off and performance bonuses tied to measurable KPI’s. This will ensure employers stand out from their competitors.

3. Provide a clear career road map including the measurable steps needed to advance. Employees should not be in the dark as to how they can progress in their career. It is important to hold regular meetings, every six months as a minimum, with their manager to discuss how they are doing. These meetings need to be fixed and not cancelled at the last minute because something more important arises, as this gives the impression that employers don’t care! It is crucial that this treatment extends from the Associates to the receptionist.

4. Delegate as much responsibility as possible and as desired by the employee. Some employees are happy to achieve results for the company but don’t want to be leaders. These employees can be rewarded with days off and late starts if they worked the graveyard shift to meet a deadline.

5. Provide a vibrant, clean and refreshing environment. Paint the office walls, invest in new workstations, put in a bar and hang up pictures. Considering employees spend most of their week at work, it is important that they feel good in their seat. Working around dusty furniture and old coffee stains won’t inspire anyone. It is important that businesses not only have a flash reception to impress visitors, but also have a flash office to impress everyone.

6. Celebrate successes with social functions, lunches and Friday night drinks. Staff events can be combined with networking events. Create company T-shirts and go ten pin bowling, which is always good for a laugh. Plan the Christmas party at a special venue and have a theme so everyone is talking about it for years to come. A bonded and happy team is a productive team.

7. Communicate constantly. Don’t let small issues eat someone alive until it’s too late. Differences can usually be resolved if both parties want them to be.

8. Conduct exit interviews when people leave and use an external party to do them. This will ensure that employers receive an honest explanation of why an employee has left. Exit interviews help employers gain an insight into whether changes need to be made to the operation of the office or its environment.

If employees have a clear direction, are paid fairly and enjoy their work environment then they will stay. However if the culture is weak and they are mismanaged then they have plenty of other options which are just a mouse click away!

Adam Walker is director of Conduit Recruitment.

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