Employee retention is more important than it has ever been; the pace of change is dictating that you need a strong team to even just retain your present market position. Your top performers could be just a LinkedIn message away from being lured from the team you have put so much effort into.
But some organisations achieve a much higher level of staff retention than others, so there are some key secrets worth noting.
1) Company Culture
One recurring theme in a recent article by Time Doctor was culture. Interviewing 39 companies of varying sizes it becomes clear that no matter what size the organisation, the personality of that company has a lot to do with attracting and retaining the right people.
Company culture is what makes an organisation unique and authentic – it is like its DNA; the system of values and norms everyone works to when making decisions. Every company has a culture but only some actively recognise this and cultivate a positive one. The presence of a company culture makes a big impact because employees inevitably face choices that cannot be regulated by the rule book – both in working with external customers, but also in engaging with colleagues and co-workers.
As one of the interviewees in the Time Doctor survey said:
“Our culture is collaborative, hardworking and humble, and this stands us in great stead to both attract and retain top talent. However, the people who work for us have choices about where they deploy their talents and so we need to create a compelling proposition that goes beyond the salary or package we offer.”
Culture will underpin the way we communicate, our decisions in the moment, employees loyalty; in fact, just about everything. With a great culture you can achieve almost anything, without it you will struggle all the way!
2) Training & Development
As Richard Branson once said “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
Training and development is a clear signal to your staff that you believe in them, and that you are prepared to invest in their future. This needs to be articulated in the hiring process – and then demonstrated right from the off. Over 40% of employees feel their job satisfaction is impacted by having opportunities for career development. And this doesn’t need to be all ‘big ticket’ expense. It could be attending trade shows, online training modules, opportunities to joining in-house mentoring schemes, running workshops and inter-departmental training sessions. Whatever you set on, ensure it is sustained and relevant.
3) Recognition and a sense of ownership
Atlassian is an example of how recognition, coupled with the first two points on this list can be a powerful force for good – and create a sense of ownership all round.
Every year they have a ‘ShipIt’ day – described on their website as “24 hours to innovate. It’s like 20% time. On steroids.” It is an opportunity for every staff member to work on anything they want, with anything they want – from replacing inefficient light bulbs, sharing homebrew to creating the beginnings of an entirely new product.
For a very illuminating speech on this by Dan Pink and illustrated by RSA Animate,click here.
Recognition and a sense of ownership are the key foundations for building loyalty and autonomy – as the old quote goes “you can hire head and hands, but you have to win hearts and minds” ; and once you have won these the staff are part of the family and will more likely stick by your organisation.
Autonomy and self-direction are necessary to implement a truly flexible working pattern. The concept of ‘only working if in the office’ is being replaced by ‘workplace as a meeting point’ and technology is such that we can be connected and in touch virtually anywhere. So many of an employees tasks are better completed in an environment different from the open plan office. If your workplace is not yet reconfigured to provide the different spaces that today’s knowledge economy requires then why not allow your team the flexibility to choose the place most applicable to their task.
Creating a flexible workplace that is designed around the principles of agile working and activity-based working allows your employees to have more autonomy over where they work. This will enable them to do their best work which will keep them happy and productive.
5) Create a Great Workplace
Your staff have aligned purposes; they are heart and soul into the business with a sense of being valued for their contribution. Their loyalty and fire cannot be quenched and they can work how and where they will deliver the best results…..an unstoppable winning team!! Now try and imagine this team working in a bland and sterile office environment with grey carpet and beige walls – it doesn’t work!
Great teams have personality and charisma – they buck trends and create new paradigms. And they need a workplace that articulates this, somewhere they want to be – to celebrate success and just to hang out. But more importantly your workplace needs the balance – of social space, of collaboration areas, but perhaps most importantly, of focus spaces. Your office design needs to be a reflection of your company culture. Research has shown that focus work is the hardest type of work to support – hence the decades of railing at the open plan concept. So, any redesign of the environment that sacrifices focus in pursuit of collaboration will decrease the effectiveness of both.
Capturing the essence of what makes your organisation great isn’t always easy, but the clearer you understand your ‘why’ the better you will be able to articulate your unique DNA profile that sets you apart.
These are just 5 key factors (although I am certain there are probably 5 others that could be added) but having worked with numerous organisations through my career, I would say that it isn’t long after you have first stepped into the workplace that you can start to get a sense of their culture. Meet a few senior people, and some staff and these 5 factors are quickly evident – sadly often by their absence. And if that is the case no amount of bean bags and bright paint will fix it.
However, if factors 1-4 are being worked then a great workplace will augment it. Sometimes we are asked to create a great workplace in order to develop a good culture, and while this can help (some ideas here), ultimately it is your people that make the team. Focus on the culture and you will find that the right staff stay around and the staff that don’t fit in the culture will either not make it through the hiring process or will move on to find another organisation where they are a better fit.