This article is a summary of our Talent Discussions event that shared insights into how managers can retain top talent.
On October 13, Business Sherpa Group hosted a Talent Retention Discussion led by Jacqueline Cregan, Senior HR Business Partner, and Ward Verschaeve, Marketing Coordinator. The aim was to share some insight into talent retention at small and medium businesses; what it looks like, and how businesses can analyze their retention efforts to measure success.
Ward kicked things off by sharing insight into ongoing changes in worker preferences, such as the greater need for autonomy, upward progression, and workplace culture, and Jacqueline followed through with outlining how workplace culture is the core component of any retention plan. Here is a summary of the key ideas discussed:
Your Talent Retention Strategy
While you can’t prevent everyone from leaving – sometimes it’s the best option – the expense of hiring is no small matter, often costing between 16 – 20% of an employee’s salary.
How can you tell if you’re having retention issues? There are a few straightforward ways to measure.
Data from within your workplace can help you understand what your business is doing well and not well in terms of your retention efforts. Turnover rates tell one part of the story; however, it is information from employees, collected through exit interviews and stay interviews, that can show you where there are gaps in your workplace culture. This and employee engagement surveys will give your organization clear action items to follow up on as you work on your retention plan.
Compensation Vs. Culture
Justifiably, workers want to be compensated for their work, and it is an important part of any retention plan. But the values, beliefs, and polices you abide by at your organization contribute to what an employee thinks about their experience to a much greater degree than compensation alone. Workers will often be more elastic on wages at organizations where they value the culture of the organization.
What is left in the mix? First is the need for work-life balance. A healthy shift that came from the COVID-19 pandemic was that workers now value their personal commitments over work obligations. Workplaces that focus on the value of work being done over the hours the work is conducted in are establishing a repour of trust between management and employees – and opening the door to hybrid or remote work opportunities, another huge sell for workers today.
This also means letting people disconnect from work when they need to, for appointments or when they designate off hours. It also means providing employees with vacation days and openly encouraging them to utilize them.
Another key to retention is creating opportunities for staff to learn new skills. Whether the skill is related to their work or is something completely new, employees should be encouraged to work across different functions when they express interest in it.
Everyone in an organization is involved in supporting a talent retention strategy. Relationships between workers, relations between management and staff, and relations even with external partners are all important contributors to the culture in a workplace.
Having open communication between different people within an organization will encourage employees to express themselves authentically. This provides a significant boost to your workplace culture, as you can foster an environment where people do more than air their concerns – they become more confident in sharing ideas, initiatives, or alternative solutions to workplace problems. If some of these are implemented, employees will feel vindicated in knowing what they do contributes to the organization, and they will continue to communicate.
As a manager, you need to lead by example, be open to criticism and ideas, and to show compassion. Encourage people to be themselves, take breaks, and to speak up. Celebrate your employees’ achievements, whether it’s something big like a large client signing, or something small like learning how to use a new technology platform. Providing constructive feedback now and then when you celebrate their wins can help instill self-confidence, rather than self-doubt.
The most important takeaway from our discussion on talent retention should be the importance of workplace culture. Ultimately, people will want to work at places that have a reputation of being a great place to work. To earn that reputation, managers should allow more chances for decisions to be made from the bottom up, letting employees contribute to the growth and success of the organization – an organization they all work together on to improve.
Moreover, managers should encourage people to learn and grow their skills with the support of the organization. They should also let people know how they’re doing – celebrating wins and letting them know where they could do better.