Staff retention – use them or lose them

It’s a commonly accepted generalisation that Generation Y will probably have 10-12 jobs and three careers in their life time, whilst the Baby Boomers average 3 – 4 jobs and one career.

This change in attitude towards career and prospects will be, and in some cases already is (think about staff turnover in the digital sector…), putting companies under pressure.

Under pressure to retain staff, under pressure to monitor and review whether their staff are happy and content, under pressure to guard themselves from their competitors ‘stealing’ their staff and under pressure to employ the right calibre of person in the first place.

So what can companies do and how do they need to change in order to minimise the disruption caused by high staff turnover?

One thing is for certain, standing still is not really an option.

Should we look at what motivates people? Is that similar to Maslov’s hierarchy of needs?Maslov hierarchy of needs








Pyramid diagram








Job Motivation

That being the case, then by being employed the Money and Security segments ought to be fulfilled, therefore companies must look at the remaining three segments in order for their employees to think twice before they leave.

Easier said than done!

What do people need or want, what motivates them to do a good or even an outstanding job as opposed to a mediocre or even a poor job?

If we had the answer to that, would that help us retain talent for our business? Would it help to obtain ever improving performance from our teams and would it improve the performance of those historically underperforming? I think it might…

Belonging to neither the Baby Boomers or Gen Y, I have had 7 jobs and I’m on my second career. And on that journey I have observed and learned a few things about team dynamics and what motivates people (also what de-motivates people).

My top tips are:

  1. Make people feel valued – communicate, communicate, communicate. Give precise and specific feedback, recognise success and recognise when people have really tried (but may not have succeeded 100%). Critique in private, praise in public. But more importantly perhaps is to listen, get to know your team in a wider context. We are all juggling umpteen balls to make the life/work balance thing work. Being seen to empathise with that will go a long way.
  2. Promote from within – develop, mentor and coach people (all people, including the cleaner). Everyone needs to feel that they are making progress, everyone needs to feel that they have a chance to get a shot at a bigger job, more responsibility and grow.
  3. Have a clear strategy – it does not need to be over-ambitious, it does not need to be over-detailed. It needs to be simple to understand for everyone and clearly communicated. If everyone knows the journey the company is on, understands how they are contributing towards succeeding in this journey and can see what is in it for them, then people will feel ownership (and are less likely to leave).
  4. Fun – a dangerous one, this one. I once organised a rock climbing trip for the team and a fair few hated it. Needless to say, it had the opposite effect…
    To me, ‘fun’ is about team spirit, unusual benefits (dry cleaning, open bar on Friday afternoon, free weekend breaks, etc), but also flexibility. Your employees do responsible jobs, so why not trust them to be responsible with regards to the time they work (where you can of course, I realise that with shop staff this would be almost impossible). If they do the job that they have been entrusted to do, let them work the hours needed to do it well. I am not saying that you should allow your team to work 3 days instead of 5 days per week, however who cares if they leave the office at 16.30hrs some days, or turn up at 09.30am rather than 09.00am once in a while. My motto is, if everyone is happy with the work you’re delivering, then just let me know when you’re in the office and when not, as long as the job is done on time.
  5. Stay interviews – In my opinion exit interviews are important (if conducted by a professional, who can then act upon making improvements so that no-one else leaves for the same reason), however a ‘stay interview’ is about checking in with individual team members and with teams on a whole to make sure people are satisfied with the job content, happy with how they are treated and remunerated and feel valued. An uncaring manager is not a manager at all.

The above 5 points really are just a starter for 10, I’d be happy to discuss with you other ideas and best practise. Give me a ring or drop me an email!

Follow @maartenjonckers on twitter for links to more articles on the subject and retail related chat

Interview dress code – what (not) to wear!

Ah, the good old days when things were easy and when turning up in a suit was always a safe bet… I blame ‘dress down Fridays’, it has all become so confusing from thereon in.

Now blokes, you’ll have to get in touch with your feminine side – and that doesn’t mean turning up for your interview dressed as Eddie Izzard…

And ladies, it ain’t that much easier for you – Power suit? Are trousers acceptable? Twin set? Dress? Skirt? Above the knee or below the knee?

What do you do?

The importance of making a good first impression gives weight to the argument that you need to carefully think about what you’re going to wear to that 1st interview (and also to the 2nd, 3rd and subsequent interviews, because you cannot turn up in the same outfit every time!).

Your safest bet is to try to find out the company’s dress code and the dress code of the person you’re meeting. Then copy whichever is the smartest dress.

If you do not know anyone who can give you reliable info on a company’s dress code, then phone switch board and ask how the directors are generally dressed. If you’re not sure about the response, then phone again at another time aiming to speak to a different receptionist.

Whilst we’re on the subject of dress code, have a think about your general appearance: hair, jewellery, piercings, tattoos et al.

My view is that generally you do not know the personal likes and dislikes of the person you’re meeting, therefore do not give them the opportunity to dismiss your candidature based on your appearance or first impression. Dress and present yourself within conservative boundaries. Take off excessive jewellery, take out your visible piercings (gents this includes your earrings), go to the hairdresser if you’re not sure that you can make your hairdo acceptable and cover up any tattoos if you can. Also, often forgotten: polish your shoes!

I may sound old fashioned and middle aged, but then again your interviewer might have old fashioned and conservative views. Just do not take a chance.

You may think that they should accept you as you are, however if you are not prepared to flex your style in order to make a good fit, then one could conclude that you are generally inflexible and come across as someone with a point to make. These tend not to be qualities that employers are looking for.

A suit isn’t always the right choice

I pitched for business once, where the client was a young lifestyle brand. I turned up in a suit and tie and could not convince them that I understood their brand and culture (even though I was a client and had been buying their clothes for some years – up until that point…).

A big lesson learned!

Follow @maartenjonckers on twitter for links to more articles on the subject and retail related chat