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Our Top Ten Employee Retention Tips for 2012

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) latest annual survey on recruitment and staffing reveals that a whopping 55% of organisations still experience retention problems.

The figure is down on 2009 (69%) which in the current economic climate is understandable; employees are naturally nervous about switching jobs and moving into new roles where they won’t receive the same benefits and perks which come as a result of long-term commitment at a company. Here are our top ten tips to help improve retention in your business.

1. A truly solid retention strategy should begin long before staff join an organisation. How your business is portrayed to the outside world can be crucial to attracting potential employees and ensuring they have a good ‘feel’ about who you are as a company, what your business model is and that they understand better the culture and climate.  They should be given a good sense of this at interview level too, so they can decide if yours is an environment where they want to work and will ‘fit’ in alongside other employees. Companies can apply for national accreditation schemes such as Investors in People (IIP) in order to demonstrate to employees and people outside of the organisation that they have a real focus on commitment to staff.

2. Creating a company where employees have a positive work-life balance should be encouraged. Supporting flexible working will also pay dividends in the long run, building loyal relationships and promoting low employee turnover. Supporting staff to volunteer and get involved with local community activities is a great way of paying attention to their individual needs.

3. Understand the main reasons people decide to leave a workplace. They can generally be linked to the following key areas; intrinsic work factors such as a fulfilling role that plays on the employees skills; business culture such as the ‘fit’ of the individual to the culture of the organisation and lastly leadership which includes training and promotion.

4. Simply communicating with your employees and listening to their wishes, can also do wonders. Providing comprehensive inductions to new staff and setting the right expectations so they know what support is available to them will help. Then after one month of joining the company, you should plan to visit the employee and discuss how they are getting on and whether they feel anything can be improved. Communicating regularly with your employees can resolve problems quickly and simply and ensures that teams are kept in the loop. It also helps them feel part of the team allowing them to suggest ideas and make recommendations on how to improve the business.

5. Having a company intranet where staff can communicate with each other and find out the latest news and developments can also be a good way of encouraging staff to get to know each other better. It’s not expensive to do and provides a central point of contact and information even in small teams.

6. Having a strong skills strategy in place to ensure that employees have the required capabilities to best suit their roles, and to help the lifeblood of the business is often overlooked. Yet it really can prove to be the most vital cog in your retention strategy. Offering employees the chance to develop themselves and keep learning is a great way of helping to keep them motivated.

7. Offering on the spot incentives for good ideas and improving efficiency in the business helps ensure they feel valued. Many businesses offer vouchers, cash incentives or holidays that really help employees put that extra ‘mile’ into their jobs.

8. Keeping staff happy in the workplace is something that should be a top priority for employers, but understanding what keeps them motivated and committed can be a battle, particularly when you are dealing with large teams of staff, based in global locations, each with different ambitions and attitudes. So it is certainly a real challenge to satisfy everyone. Young workers are particularly renowned for moving from job to job, and therefore require a different retention strategy to those in the middle of their careers. For example, younger workers often prefer short-term benefits such as performance-related bonuses, compared to older workers who may look to pensions, healthcare and maternity/paternity leave being of utmost importance to them.  Acknowledging these differences and attempting to offer flexible benefits can be key to attracting and retaining staff.

9. Review and review again. Holding a regular review meeting with employees allows you to set goals and review progress. It’s also a good way to work through skill gaps and identify if someone needs help or is a poor performer.

10. And finally, ensure your offer to new employees looks professional and covers the main points discussed at interview. All too often employment offers have photocopied sheets from manuals and “feel” like they have been “handmade”. Setting the right impression even before you do anything else will ensure the best people will join you in the first place.