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In almost all companies, it’s the staff that add value. They can make the difference between profit and loss, and when they leave, you can face issues such as performance disruption, replacement costs (estimated in some surveys to be up to 20 percent of the employee's salary) and the time it takes to find and train someone new. There are steps you can take to develop a successful employee retention program and perhaps most importantly; recruit the best people in the first place.

Find the right people

It’s not uncommon for recruitment to be one of the first casualties of budget cuts, but it’s worth remembering that your recruitment decisions can have serious cost implications. After all, you’re planning to pay for salary, equipment and other costs for years which can run into hundreds of thousands. This is without even considering the upfront costs of the selection process itself in terms of management time, administration and advertising.

Download our highlight to create an Employee Value Proposition aimed at better  retention »

Here's how to make the most of your selection process: 

  • Make sure the correct skills for the role are reflected in your advert, short listing criteria and interview questions
  • Advertise in the right places to attract the best candidates;
  • Make sure your interviewers have the skills to make the best decision;
  • Don’t settle for someone who “might” be able to do the job. You don’t want to have to repeat the process with the added work of managing a poor performer. I’m a huge believer in the mantra; ‘If it’s a maybe, it’s a no’.

 employee retention strategy

Increase the Pull, Reduce the Push

There are steps you can take that will change the balance between the pull factors (that make your staff want to stay) and the push factors (that make them want to leave). Most people assume that pay is the most attractive thing about a job, and sometimes it is, but it’s worth remembering all the other reasons someone wants to stay. It might be a good fit for them in terms of job satisfaction, development opportunities or shared goals. They may have strong links to the organization, perhaps through colleagues, social events, or the local community.

Don’t underestimate the power of trust, which happens when employees are valued within an open and honest culture. This can lead to great employee engagement which will then improve employee retention.

It’s also worth considering what the employee would have to sacrifice when they leave, not just in terms of remuneration, but other employee benefits such flexible working hours, a great working environment or development opportunities. The greater the sacrifice, the harder the decision to leave.

So, those are the pull factors that you can dial up, but what about reducing the push factors? You might have little control over some, like pay, but it’s likely you can do something about morale, employee engagement or working conditions. Carry out exit interviews with all leavers, taking an open-minded approach and use that data to identify your push factors. You can do something about them when you know what they are!


Know the warning signs

It’s inevitable that people will leave. Sometimes you’ll have an idea in advance, but often it’s a shock. There are however, times when you have influence over the reasons people want to go.

There may be low morale, poorly managed change or a feeling of being undervalued. There can also be external factors outside your control such as the effects of a recession, increases in commuting costs or government policies. Whatever someone’s reasons for leaving, having a succession plan will leave you better placed to bridge the gap on a short or long-term basis.

Taking a measured approached to retaining your staff will improve your staff’s engagement and save you money. Not only that, but as a happy by-product, it should also improve your reputation in your industry and the community to make you a more attractive employer to potential candidates. How's that for staying power? 

Sarah Akanbi

Sarah is our former Head of Diversity and People Experience. She's obsessed with making RG a happier place to work, holds the proud title of our No. 1 Beyoncé fan and is an expert on holiday planning and spreadsheets.

Head of Diversity and People Experience

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