7 top ways to retain your staff

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We all like to feel appreciated and, when it comes to work, it’s an absolute top motivational factor, according to a recent study by Argos for Business consultancy.

Four in ten (43%) of the 2000 UK workers surveyed said they stayed in their job because they ‘feel valued’, followed by good relationships with colleagues (40%) and feeling as though you make a difference (28%.) Somewhat surprisingly, only a quarter (24%) of respondents highlighted pay as a factor keeping them in their present role, and only 3.5% cent placed importance on an annual bonus.

So how can you make sure you hold onto your best staff and don’t lose them to a competitor?

1. Make sure your leaders and managers have good training and development

Karen Meager, consultant and author of Real Leaders for the Real World says managers and leaders are the lynchpin of any organisation and define its culture and environment. “The number one factor affecting stress in the workplace is the quality of relationships and, therefore having a healthy productive workplace is key to retaining good people,” she notes. “People management skills are not usually part of a line manager’s professional training so invest in a healthy culture and make sure they receive it.”

2. Give people a clear route for progression

Lots of people leave jobs because they don’t know where their current role is leading to and get poached by a competitor or feel like they are getting stuck in a rut and look elsewhere. No one likes uncertainty and most people like to know where they are going. Make sure you give employees a clear route to show them how they can progress and spell out their prospective career options. If you are unable to do that because of the nature of the job, tell them you would be open to hearing their ideas and suggestions for career development.

3. Give people a sense of purpose

Making a difference and giving people a reason to stay that meets their values other than the basics of a ‘good job’ can be a deal breaker, says Meager. “This could be paid time off for volunteering, or flexitime so that they can meet their family commitments, or paid for crèche facilities. These are relatively low cost compared to hiring new people and are well worth the investment.”

4. Trust them to do a good job

David Marshall, chief executive of Marshall E-Learning Consultancy, says you can never underestimate the importance of giving people autonomy and trusting them to do a good job. “Don’t watch over people. When they see that the more they deliver, the more you trust them and give them autonomy and space, they will become more and more engaged,” he notes.

5. Treat them well and show compassion – even if they have already found another job

It might sound a bit obvious but a little kindness and compassion can go a long way in the workplace, even if an employee is leaving. “When things don’t work out, look after the person who is leaving,” advises Marshall. “Treat them well. People need to know they are not being exploited but have a caring employer with boundaries.” It will also show existing employees that you value the contribution they make.

6.  Don’t ever publicly name and shame people

“A huge morale destroyer is the email copying everyone in pointing out someone has made a mistake,” says Marshall. “And even if are doing it as a joke, you are not being honest. Tell someone privately and straight what they have done wrong.”

7. Communicate

If you do have an issue with an employee’s performance or attitude, arrange an informal meeting with them to talk about things. Start off with a compliment or praising them for something they are doing well (anything from good timekeeping to writing a recent report) before going on to tackle any difficult subjects. Don’t be afraid to ask them what else is going on in their lives as that may be a factor which affects their performance but try not to pry. If an employee feels able to communicate and talk about any issues, they are much less likely to jump ship.

Georgina Fuller is an award winning freelance journalist and editor.

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