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How to hang onto your employees

Posted October 13, 2011, by Josie Chun

With a recent survey revealing that more employees are starting to look at greener pastures, it is more important than ever for employers to look at ways of retaining their staff.

With 87 per cent of employees wanting to continue to develop their careers with their current employer, it’s obvious that most people don’t even want to leave but feel it is necessary because they don’t feel secure in their jobs or don’t feel that there is enough opportunity for career growth. To a large extent, this represents a failure of communication on the part of employers, rather than an accurate reflection of reality.

Changing priorities for employees

Job priorities have changed in the wake of the economic downturn, with job security and opportunities for career development emerging as top priorities for most employees, according to the latest L.E.A.D. (Leadership Employment and Direction) Survey White Paper. The top five influences on employee performance as of August 2009 were:

1.    Reasonable salary/pay (ranked 4th in August 2008)
2.    Job security (ranked 11th in August 2008)
3.    Interesting/challenging work (ranked 6th in August 2008)
4.    Being entrusted with responsibility (ranked 2nd in August 2008)
5.    Flexible work arrangements (ranked 7th in August 2008)

The top five factors for staying with an organisation were:

1.    Salary increases
2.    Opportunities for career development
3.    Opportunities for training and development
4.    Flexible work hours
5.    Special arrangements to suit their lifestyle

What employers can do to engage and retain their staff

The most essential ingredient in being able to bring out the best in people is to build trust, according to the L.E.A.D. survey report:

  • Trust that leaders have a plan (certainty)
  • Trust in the plan (familiarity)
  • Trust that the plan will protect the interests of the organisation and its people (confidence and empathy)
  • Trust that people are being fully informed and can recognise their role and play their part (communication and responsibility-sharing)
  • Trust that their leader has their best interests at heart (loyalty)

Trust breeds loyalty and is crucial in engaging workers to adopt strategies for the future, and most people have a high degree of trust in their leaders. But only those organisations that reward that trust, demonstrate inclusiveness and fulfil their people’s needs will thrive.

Leaders need to understand their employees’ needs, communicate with them and involve them in the development of both organisational and personal plans, as recommended in the L.E.A.D. report. This creates engagement, ownership, commitment and connection, both within individuals and throughout the organisation.

Top priorities for employers should therefore be to:

  • Communicate with your employees and solicit their input, suggestions and help on how to best move forward and achieve your organisational goals and strategies
  • Set new strategies to best navigate through current challenges
  • Share and discuss the vision, goals and strategy of your organisation regularly and with employees at all levels – not just those at the top
  • Invest time in reassuring your people that you see them as a part of the future and demonstrate your commitment to their personal and professional growth  

‘Intelligent employers will realise time spent reassuring their people about the future (their roles, the organisation’s goals and strategies and why they should hang tough in tough times) is now the most potent force to influence performance and retain quality employees,’ says Grant Sexton, chief executive of Leadership Management Australasia, which conducted the L.E.A.D. survey.

Josie Chun

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