Focusing on Retention of Staff

Writing for the Newpoint Capital website this week, company founder Keith Beekmeyer wonders if companies focus hard enough on retention of staff rather than leaving it to chance. Whether someone stays with a company long-term or short-term is actually within that company’s control,  as Keith points out with a series of observations based on his 30 year career in business.

1. Staff retention actually starts at the recruitment stage

Retention actually starts right from the beginning of the employment process, from the application stage itself, through to successfully screening applicants so that you’re only interviewing those you know will fit in with your company culture, strategy and ethos. It boils down to you as a company knowing these things about yourself and carefully screening and choosing your staff to suit.

The longer someone’s with your company, the more productive, and valuable to the company, they become over time. It’s important that companies look at their employment strategy as a long game, and take steps to ensure they’re doing it right by making sure each employee is completely engaged with and part of the company’s ongoing success.

2. Identify candidates who’ll be with you long-term

How can you choose candidates that are more likely to stick with you? Firstly, look out for candidates with longevity at their previous jobs.

Then think about beyond what’s on the surface of their CV. If they worked at a company for many years through ups and downs, that speaks to loyalty, perseverance, engagement, and commitment. You could also be on the lookout for someone who plays team sports, who has committed to volunteer or other activities outside of work — that can help tell you that they are invested in a cause, a team, a sport, but also that they have the mindset to stick with something they really care about.

Be careful with those candidates who change jobs every year or two. Consider in advance that’s the length of time they’re likely to be with you too. That’s fine if you’re looking to fill a one to two year fixed-term post, but is not otherwise conducive to increasing your staff retention overall.

3. Be supportive of your employees desires to learn and grow

Promoting from within wherever possible helps employees feel that they’re valued and a crucial part of the company’s success, and provides their colleagues with a boost as they see evidence of hard work being rewarded.

Promotions go hand-in-hand with employee development and education, and this could be another tool in your retention arsenal. Whether by corporate training to help foster the acquisition of new skills, new technologies or new processes; or through encouragement of staff who desire to learn part-time at home in their evenings or weekends.

A learning-focused company doesn’t just hold occasional learning events or workshops separate from the day-to-day work. Instead, learning is integrated in every project or task, and employees are encouraged to dive in and learn by doing, asking questions when they hit roadblocks or obstacles along the way.

4. Offer the right working environment

Staff are going to stay longer if they’re happy at your workplace. Happy workers are productive workers. Ergo, the formula here is a pretty straightforward one to work out. Happy staff = happy company = happy customers = business success.

Having staff who are happy working for you starts with the environment you create within the company on a daily basis. An environment of fear and blame is never going to foster success, but an open and trusting workplace will help keep your employees engaged and willing to work hard to bring success.

5. Transparent and open communication

Creating open communication between employees and management can help foster a sense of community and a shared purpose. Some things that help to create this environment include regular meetings in which employees can offer ideas and ask questions, as well as policies that encourage employees to speak frankly with their managers.

Employees only feel trusted and valued if they know they’re being listened to, and if they know what they’re saying is being taken on board. Companies can help themselves retain their staff for a lot longer if they actively engage in open communication with staff at all levels.

6. Be prepared for some staff turnover

Of course, some staff turnover is inevitable. By planning carefully through the whole recruitment and retention process, you’re never going to stop any staff from ever leaving. What you are going to do though, is stack the odds in your favour at keeping those valuable and trained staff with you for that much longer.

Have the right application and candidate sifting process for your company needs, an interview framework that’s designed to bring out the best in each candidate and take on those staff who you can see have the potential to be with you long-term. Do all of that, and of course, staff will still leave – life’s journey will inevitably take them onwards and upwards from you at some point.

All you can do is try to keep them with you for the longest possible time – by keeping them engaged, happy, satisfied and motivated in their own success as well as yours.

7. Don’t ignore the Exit interview

Some companies either don’t understand or simply don’t appreciate the purpose of an exit interview. This is genuinely your chance to learn from someone who’s had a bird’s eye view of the inside of your company about their observations, thoughts and even suggestions for your company’s future.

Discarding this stage of the recruitment and employment cycle as unimportant, or worse, treating it as an inconvenience or tick-box exercise, wastes a valuable opportunity for you to learn something that may help you in the future.