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How to hold on to your top performers in the new year

Blogs People First

Anyone in HR knows it’s hard to find the right people. But holding on to them isn’t getting any easier either. This simple guide will help you hold on to your best talent through 2017 and beyond.

What’s changed?

There is more diversity of age and background in the workforce than ever before. Millennials, Gens X and Y, and Baby Boomers are now mixing in an environment disrupted by the cloud, mobile phones, faster broadband speeds and social media platforms.

All of this adds up to a labour market accustomed, and expecting, to live and communicate on their terms, when and where they want. So it’s important for companies to embrace technologies that support easy and secure access to business information and contacts, while also recognising the role of technology in aiding a better work/life balance.

Conventional wisdom

This is not to say that the old markers of job satisfaction – money, training, career development, and quality of management and colleagues – no longer apply. They do, albeit in different ways. Staff want to feel they are part of something worthwhile, to be recognised for their role, trained to be better at it, and get properly paid at the end of the day.

The best way to understand whether or not your people are happy, or if they might be thinking of moving on, is to ask them. In the past this wasn’t so easy, with employers having essentially two options: asking staff in person or circulating hard-copy surveys for staff to fill in anonymously. The first is usually awkward and unlikely to elicit honest responses, while the second can be time-consuming and labour-intensive.

Digital technologies such as the cloud, smart phones, faster fixed and mobile networks are making it much easier for companies to gain a true picture of employee sentiment. Surveys can be created, accessed and analysed in the cloud — regardless of where staff members are located, or on what device.

Enabling work/life balance

A recent study by HR analysts Randstad showed that “work life balance” and “flexible workplace conditions” rated as the top two reasons why employees stay in their current role, scoring 54 and 38 per cent respectively. Competitive salary was a distant third, scoring 28 per cent.

Brand awareness

Every company has a ‘brand’, whether they’re aware of it or not. And the experiences of staff play an important part in shaping how that brand perceived, especially with so many digital forums and platforms for people to comment and vent. HR managers need to view their role as having wider implications than simply managing staff issues. They also need to establish robust systems and processes for picking up on these conversations and reacting accordingly.

The same applies for job candidates. Whether you treat them well or not, Facebook and Twitter are probably going to know about it, so it’s important for HR managers to extend simple courtesies such as returning phone calls and emails, regardless of whether a candidate is successful.

Hire purpose

Who you hire can impact greatly on staff satisfaction. This is especially true when recruiting people for management positions, but it’s equally important for any member of the team. Of course that’s a lot easier said than done. One of the best ways for HR managers to screen candidates more effectively is to have existing team members directly involved in the recruitment process, including doing things like collaborating on job descriptions and the setup for interviews.

At the end of the day, the fundamental principles for ensuring good staff retention haven’t changed. But the rapid adoption of digital technologies in people’s personal lives has led to greater expectations around mobility, speed and interoperability in the workforce. They have also changed the way staff and companies interact, thanks in large part to the cloud.

Companies serious about improving staff retention must accept that the digital genie is now well and truly out of the bottle. There will be many challenges in the year ahead, but there will also be many exciting opportunities for those who are technologically prepared for what is to come.


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