This post was written by Sue Waters, Director of Gloucester-based recruiters GB Solutions. As part of our Gloucestershire Expertise series, we are giving local leaders the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience, to help other ambitious enterprises grow. If you would like to contribute to the series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sue shares her honest outlook of recruitment from the other side of the fence. In many cases, she says, it's far better (and cheaper) to keep the employees you have, than to look for new ones. Sue explains why:
In a tight marketplace hiring managers come to us asking us how to recruit the talent they need, or to retain staff that show signs of wanting to leave.
In our minds retention is actually an integral part of recruitment. Retention is a long game and is important because it’s a game of increasing returns. The longer someone stays with a company, the more they contribute, and the more profitable they become for you. Very obviously you won’t be working on employee retention if you haven’t spent the time and effort to recruit the right talent in the first place.
Our approach would be to stand in front of the mirror and ask a few difficult questions, to devise a new approach to the two Rs.
Who are you?
The first step is to be very honest about the culture you have in the company and the business strategy. What elements do you want to emphasise and bolster in attracting new candidates. What elements do you have a bit too much of and probably want to play down as they are not part of the future culture?
It takes a good deal of soul searching to either say yes we are happy with the staff we have at the moment and aligned with the vision and culture we have created or we could do better going forward?
What can you offer?
Making it clear to candidates that there are clear paths to progress in your company is vital in both attracting and retaining staff. It shows that from the get-go that the company will reward those people that stick with them, not simply take them for granted. Promoting from within not only provides a clear path to greater compensation and responsibility, it also helps employees feel that they're valued and a crucial part of the company's success. They will stay if you can prove you’re worth staying with.
How do we get there?
It’s hard to promote people if there hasn’t been some investment in their development and savvy candidates will want to know what the company is prepared to invest to ensure their personal development. Whether by training to help learn new skills or through tuition reimbursement from outside courses, furthering employees' education is a major differentiator between prospective employers.
A focus on training is also key to higher retention rates. A commitment to training is seen by employees as an investment in their worth and a powerful incentive to stay at the company.
How do we stand out?
Benefits and perks play a large role in keeping employees happy, engaged and healthy. Staff are looking for exciting benefit programmes - which may or may not be performance related.
Flexible work schedules, the opportunity to work remotely and generous annual leave policies also go a long way toward helping employees feel they are valued well beyond their standard pay.
And importantly enhanced maternity and paternity packages for example are not only attractive to the candidates that may need them but are vital PR for the company as it speaks volumes about the culture of the business.
Are you listening?
Ensuring that there is open communication between employees and management helps foster a sense of community and a shared purpose. Regular meetings in which employees can offer ideas and ask questions as well as open-door policies which encourage employees to speak frankly with their managers help employees feel they are valued and that their input will be heard.
Sharing on open social media platforms, networking contacts to any other employees that wants to network and talk to someone at other companies and in other industries is an important part of being transparent. Prospective employees will research social media channels and will soon see whether this is a business with ‘friends’ or one that really doesn’t play well with others!
What do you know?
Organisations have incredible amounts of employee data available — why not use it to identify why people stay and who may be at a chance of leaving and then take steps to prevent that? But be careful not to jump to conclusions.
Are employees leaving after the bonus turned out not to be as high as promised, or were they leaving anyway and just stayed to take the bonus as they left?
Looking more closely at the data can help uncover patterns like this, potentially contradicting conventional wisdom.
Sometimes you have to say goodbye
Of course some turnover is inevitable, and could even be a good thing. Companies must be prepared to lose talent, no one would want to stop an ambitious candidate moving to their dream job.
But touching base with employees about what motivates them while they’re still on your payroll is part of a key strategy in gaining an edge in today’s tight talent market and will inform both your recruitment and retention strategy for the future.