Retention of 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 talent in their organisation. After all, there’s no way a business can flourish and thrive if your best workers are dropping out of the company like flies. People might leave for a number of reasons; it could be pay, but it could be a wish for career progression, greater challenge, change of culture, more flexibility, or simply personal reasons.
Successful organisations understand that there is no one-size-fits-all in employee motivation and different incentives will help to retain their talent. Often the incentives reflect progress through life. When you’re starting out you may well be keener on gym membership than pension arrangements. Law firm Addleshaw Goddard was suffering the loss of talented individuals costing the company around £200,000 per employee. Leavers cited long hours and a lack of family friendly flexible working as major contributing factors. The legal profession does tend to work long hours as a norm, but the company addressed the issue and has really reaped the benefits since. It made a conscious effort to address the issue of flexible working, which has seen a significant improvement in employee-retention, as well as more women staying on within the firm and being promoted internally to partner status. These changes have also since made them an employer of choice. An amazing transformation, but it isn’t just the big organisations that can do it. Obviously size helps (budgets are likely to be more generous) but regardless of this, the same principles apply to larger organisations as they do to SME businesses.
People want to work in a company that improves their lives and is considerate of their needs. Finding ways of retaining talent doesn’t have to cost the earth. It’s about smart ways of working. Here are my top tips for SME employers:
- 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. The exercise savvy might be looking for a gym or benefits such as BUPA. Others might prefer training and career progression or flexible ways of working like Addleshaw Goddard. 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.
- 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.
- The beauty 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 something that larger companies just can’t replicate. Capitalise on this and make staff feel more included, more able to make a personal contribution, are listened to and a part of the business. If they feel they are valued, then they’re more likely to stay.
- 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!
- Manage the communication so that expectations are not exceeded before you’ve begun. Consult, reflect and explore option before making final decisions. Explain exactly how the reward and incentive will be allocated, delivered and managed.
Well targeted rewards (and these include creating the right culture for employees to flourish) benefit both employer and employee. Given that most people spend the majority of their waking lives at work, it makes sense to reward them and encourage them to stay.
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