Making it personal

CATS Recruit, Tuesday, 10th July 2012

The secret to retaining your best talent is to show that you value them

DO YOU think your employee’s loyalty lies in the compensation package you offer? If so, you’re only about half right. While the most attractive compensation and benefits plans may certainly help to lure top talent into joining your organisation, they are not the be-all and end-all of the recruitment-retention game.

Many human resource (HR) managers still mistakenly believe that they need to offer the fattest pay packet and other perks to keep their people. But time and again, HR personnel conducting exit interviews hear the same old anecdotal evidence that it is not just about the money. I’m sure you have heard the cliché that people join organisations but leave their managers. This is true — the supervisor’s management style is a key factor in shaping the work environment and corporate culture.

This, in turn, plays a pivotal role in determining the happiness index in your workforce. Obviously, a happy employee has much less of a push factor to pack his bags and leave.

More than anything, people want to feel that they matter and that their contributions count for something. The secret to employee retention is thus highly personal and often relationship-based.

There really isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach as every individual differs in his psychological make-up and motivations. Here are strategies to keep your best talent:

Make employees feel cared for
No one likes to feel unimportant, undervalued or ignored at work, or in other social or familial contexts. I cannot stress enough the act of recognising, appreciating and rewarding your employees. Whether it is through monthly one-on-one progress reports or an “Employee of the Month” programme, a simple change in process can elevate workplace attitudes to a new level.

Rewards don’t have to empty the company’s coffers either. Just get creative — besides monetary incentives, there are many low-cost ways to make employees feel appreciated. Give your star performer who brought in the highest sales for the month a gift card from his favourite coffee chain, bookstore or spa. This requires you to find out about his personal likes and dislikes to tailor the reward according to their individual taste — and will make him feel all the more valued.

Offer a flexible work environment
Work-life balance is quite possibly one of the greatest challenges every employee faces in the competitive business environment of a thriving economy. Employers who display some degree of flexibility are thus a much-vaunted rarity. Being flexible works wonders in boosting employee morale, enhances employee satisfaction, and reduces the number of “sickies” staff are forced to take if they need to send their child to the doctor urgently.

Provide personal development
Employees, especially top performers, don’t want to stay stagnant either. They want to work for organisations that offer a nurturing environment — one where they can grow together with the company. So, give them opportunities to learn and grow in their careers, and acquire additional knowledge and skills. Send them for training or even offer them the opportunity to sit on challenging committees or spearhead special projects that may be outside their immediate scope. Top this off by creating a career path for your employees so that they are clear about the destination they are working towards within the organisation. This serves to empower employees as well as show them that yours is an organisation that respects their talent and values.

Hear them out
People need to feel heard and know that their opinions are valued. But sometimes, these voices get lost within big company bureaucracy. Create platforms that encourage employees to share their ideas and feedback, even if it’s just allowing them to let off steam about work processes. Don’t just pay lip service — be sincere and take action on their feedback and implement their ideas where feasible. This is also good for productivity as it creates a culture of continuous improvement. Who knows? A million-dollar idea may just be incubating in your employee’s head right this moment.

Flatten the hierarchy
This is especially relevant to larger organisations as it is harder for senior management to match every face to a name. They should thus take the time to meet with employees, especially those lower down the ranks, and new hires, to discover their professional strengths as well as their personal interests. Have your top management give all staff “face time” periodically as it is a critical tool that will help employees feel welcome and engender a sense of belonging and loyalty — and it doesn’t cost you a cent.

Ronald Lee
Managing Director
PrimeStaff Management Services Pte Ltd