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Finders Keepers

There is evidence recovery is taking place all round. Not only in the UK but this week’s figures have indicated growth in both Germany and France. After six quarters of recession now at least there has been some small growth reported on 0.3%. This is the longest recession to affect the Eurozone since it was created and it comes as a relief that the economic picture is improving, albeit slowly.

With Germany and France leading the recovery, one swallow doesn’t make a summer. There are plenty of calls for caution. In Europe Office for National Statistics the jobless rate stayed at 12% last month, according to a Bloomberg News survey. In the UK the Office for National Statistics reported that unemployment fell by 4,000 in the three months to June leaving 2.51 million out of work.

Recruitment patterns in the UK have been curious throughout the recession and frequent comments have been made about the number of employers actually hiring, although far more of the jobs available are part time. Now that there really do seem to be some green shoots of recovery, employers are much more likely to face the risk of employees moving on.

Retention of good talent is one of the holy grails of HR. Given the cost of recruitment, employers want to do all they can to keep the right people in their company. After all, there’s no way a business can flourish and thrive if your best workers are dropping out of the company like flies.

Here are some tips for keeping your best people on board:

  • Provide a sense of direction for individuals and the team they work with.
  • Communicate consistently and regularly about what needs to be done as well as how they are doing in terms of their feedback.
  • Give helpful feedback (even if it’s of the “you have to raise your game” variety). Employees need to know what they’re doing right and wrong.
  • If you give employees an incentive, but they are not incentivised by the reward, then you’re wasting your money. Believe me, there are plenty of highly incentivised but demotivated staff!
  • Don’t make assumptions. What is important to you may not be of equal interest to your employee. Find out what individuals want before deciding what to offer. It’s all about finding out what floats the boat of that employee, and pushing that button. One way is to take the pick and mix approach. Make an equal pot of money available to each employee and they can choose the benefits they want to have.
  • Have a chat with everyone on a regular basis. This is much more about day-to-day management and supervision. Remember that employees often leave supervisors and managers rather than organizations.
  • Avoid over-measuring: While it is important to measure outputs and performance, over-measurement can be a real irritant to high-performing individuals and may reduce their desire to keep doing what they do. It is better to have regular input sessions on being clear about the future and the team’s performance, followed by frequent, shorter feedback conversations both one-on-one and in small groups to check that the individual and the team are headed in the right direction. It sounds simple because it is.
  • Manage the communication so that expectations are not exceeded before you've begun. Consult, reflect and explore options before making final decisions. Explain exactly how the reward and incentive will be allocated, delivered and managed. Clear communication not only gives workers clarity about the future, but also around what is expected of them every day. Once people are clear on what they have to do at work, they will be more focused and productive and will therefore be happier at work. If workers feel uncertain or vague about what they’re meant to be doing, their commitment to the company will also be uncertain and vague.
  • Learn from exit interviews. What have past valued employees who resigned said in their exit interviews? Managers can look over this data and integrate their findings into new strategies to ensure fewer untimely resignations. Exit interviews are sometimes mocked as pointless, but it could be the most important body of data an organization has amassed.
  • If there’s a cost, make sure that you target it. Throwing money at it in scattershot fashion won’t solve the problem. Remember it might not be about money. It might be about having a flexible, fun and/or ethical culture, or actively promote individual creativity.

Play to your strengths! For example, one of the charms of SME organisations is that they are dynamic, fast and fun and employees who work in them are on the front line and close to the decision making processes; this is something that larger companies just can’t replicate. Make staff feel more included, listed to and a part of the business. If they feel they are valued, then they’re more likely to stay.

And if you have to recruit, design your recruitment process properly to ensure you attract the right people. It has been shown repeatedly that poor recruitment practices result in high labour turnover and absenteeism, with a consequent increase in costs. If the right people are recruited in the first place, they are likely to stay, fit into your organisation and work to optimum effect. If the wrong people are recruited, they will either leave or engage in unsatisfactory behaviours or conduct, which means that you will have to manage them out of the business. This is time consuming and in itself carries risks.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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