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!

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