Retaining top talent is a challenge that all companies face, even the biggest and best – losing talented employees is an expensive business. Companies must account for lost productivity and skills, re-training and customer dissatisfaction.
In all, Pricewaterhouse Coopers reckons that a valued staff-member commands a replacement cost comparable to his or her annual salary. A corporate lawyer who snags the juiciest clients on her way out is, of course, vastly more damaging to the bottom line. British companies need to be particularly aware of this, as the UK resignation rate – at roughly 10 per cent – is appreciably higher than in France, Germany or the United States. Affording staff due recognition and appreciation for their work is vital to keeping them happy, but before bosses start sweet-talking minions they must identify the best talent.
Contrary to received wisdom most people don’t change jobs for a fatter pay packet. Research by the Saratoga Institute showed that almost 90 per cent of employees cited a different reason on departing, though a similar proportion of their superiors thought better pay elsewhere was the main motivation. In fact, that disconnect reveals an underlying contributor to unwanted staff turnover – poor communication. Unfortunately, the first a company hears about personal frictions is often during an exit interview, by which time it is too late, so clear structures need to be in place for staff to air grievances before they fester. Failing that, analysis of employee turnover can show whether a glut of resignations is clustered around a single manager. Both methods are especially important in large teams, where workers can more easily be left feeling isolated, anonymous and under-valued. Apart from installing respected and likeable leaders, companies can also maintain employee satisfaction by providing the right tools for the job, sensible deadlines and the correct training. Appreciation for good work is vital, though the rewards needn’t always be financial. Promotion is a particularly useful weapon in the fight to keep your best workers from defecting to rivals.
Although there is evidence that corporate culture is increasingly important to today’s jobseekers, positions in the boardroom aren’t the only way to keep your top talent comfortable. Women in their thirties, for instance, may want to work from home sometimes to cope with childcare, while both sexes in their late twenties often prioritise pay as they seek to finance a first property. There are also generational differences – Generation Y – those born since the late 1970s – expect far more from their employers than just a salary. Macroeconomic conditions can also dictate how companies should respond to employees’ needs – when the markets aren’t good and you can’t pay bonuses then other things become important, such as flexibility in the workplace and the ability to work from home…