Top tips to keep hold of your most talented employees

If you’ve worked hard to attract and recruit talented employees, you will need to put in even more work to keep them. While employees will choose to move on for many different reasons, some of which you can’t control, we’ve compiled ten top tips on what can be done to help retain valuable members of staff.

1. Find the right fit

You’re more likely to retain talent if you recruit effectively in the first place. Make sure you create a clear job description which sets out realistic expectations of the role so that a candidate doesn’t accept a position they are not suited for. It’s also important to recruit based on those who are a good cultural fit for your organisation, as well as on skills and experience, to ensure long term success. 

2. Provide a good induction

Poorly designed or non-existent induction programmes can create disengaged employees from the outset. Create an induction plan which ensures new employees feel confident and equipped to succeed in the role from the start. This should include everything from the basics of introducing any equipment or software they may not be familiar with through to pairing up a new employee with a highly experienced colleague who can act as an induction mentor. Regular meetings should also be held throughout the induction period to establish if any further support or guidance is required. 

3. Offer development opportunities

Hang on to top talent by providing a robust and meaningful development plan with clear progression opportunities outlined. Let employees have a say in what they would like to achieve by encouraging a two-way dialogue in which they can openly discuss aspirations and further training required. Development plans don’t have to involve additional costs, training could be provided by more experienced colleagues, or offering the chance to work in a different part of the business will help people to develop new skills. If there’s not many chances for promotion within your organisation, think about offering more responsibility or autonomy instead. 

4. Balance strong management with trust

It is becoming increasingly common to find four different generations of people working together, including the current generation known as ‘Millennials’ (born 1977 to 1994), expected to make up 75% of the UK’s workforce by 2025. Studies show that the millennial generation in particular both values and benefits from consistent management feedback, preferably on a weekly rather than a yearly basis. Make sure that your managers are effectively equipped and trained to provide ongoing performance management. Balance this strong management with a trust in people to do the job they are paid for. If you enable employees to shape the way they work, and the projects they get involved in, they are more likely to be engaged and fulfilled.    

5. Give employees a voice

One of the key enablers for achieving employee engagement is to ensure that employees have a ‘voice’. Develop a culture where new ideas can be expressed and a collaborative approach is adopted to fuel discussion and engagement. A company where staff feel empowered to speak their minds is one that is likely to have good levels of employee retention.It is equally important to ensure clear processes are also in place for employees to voice any dissatisfaction. Issues can usually be nipped in the bud, before they escalate to the point of someone leaving, if they can be raised through appraisals or grievance procedures etc.   

6. Support unsung talent

Sometimes the most talented employees are too busy quietly doing a great job to shout about it. These are the employees who know the organisation inside out and seem to be able to tackle pretty much anything you throw at them with very little fuss. It is particularly important for managers to spot these valuable people and to support them. Check they aren’t taking on too much and slowly burning out. They may not push themselves forward, but they need to feel just as valued as those who do, or there’s a danger that they could gradually get fed up and finally leave.

7. Help employees to achieve a work/life balance

The journey to and from work and a lack of work/life balance are now the two biggest factors for people choosing to leave a job. It’s vital for employers to help employees strike the delicate balance between work and home life so they can effectively manage their careers, stay healthy and continue to feel engaged. Review your organisation’s practices around flexible working and look for opportunities to support employees in successfully juggling work and family life.

8. Recognise and reward success

Make employees feel valued and proud of what they do by sharing the bigger business picture and the impact their role has had in the overall success. This could be as simple as sharing reports or statistics on the effect a particular project has had. Rewarding any successes highlighted doesn’t have to be financial. Although money still holds considerable importance, and salaries and benefits should be regularly reviewed to ensure they remain competitive, simple and sincere acknowledgements still go a long way. Cakes on Friday, or breakfast rolls on a Monday are inexpensive treats which still speak volumes.

9. Monitor engagement levels

Consistently monitoring employee engagement levels will help you to spot any potential areas for development before they become an issue that could cause an employee to leave. If you already conduct an annual staff survey try adding short ‘pulse’ surveys throughout the year as well. This will help to capture immediate feedback on particular issues without having to wait for the yearly results roll round. Through our Best Employers Eastern Region initiative we also offer a free employee survey which will provide insight on how employees perceive an organisations culture, learning and development, values, leadership style and communication: which all impacts on engagement levels.

10. Establish the reasons why

If employees do choose to move on, try to establish the reasons why. Exit interviews are good practice but remember people may not be entirely honest. It is human nature to be reluctant to directly criticise managers, colleagues or a business overall. They may also be worried about protecting their reference. If possible, get an external provider to conduct the interview to encourage honesty and to gain a more accurate picture. If this isn’t possible, make sure the person conducting the exit interview is someone as impartial as possible, and not the individual’s direct manager.

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