What employers can do to retain key staff

Viewpoints

New year, new job – what employers can do to retain key staff in 2013?

P&MM’s John Sylvester discusses the best methods of staff retention

One of the top priorities for many employees each New Year is to do something positive with their career. For many this may mean taking on greater responsibility in the hope of securing a pay rise, but for others it will involve putting the feelers out to try and secure a new job elsewhere. After all, the quickest way to dramatically improve your salary is to move organisation. But what can employers do to prevent this, without incurring a huge wage increase?

HR teams and line managers can often counteract such new year’s resolutions by better communicating the full value of the benefits package on offer at their organisation – over and above base salary. They can also make employees think twice about leaving through regular and public recognition of achievement.

These two factors could be vital in the battle to retain top performers as the job market begins to return to pre-recession health.

Seeking a higher wage and better career prospects
Think your employees should be happy to still have a job? Figures show that the threat of a P45 simply isn’t an effective motivator of people. With the UK emerging slowly from recession many workers are feeling more confident about their prospects of finding a new career, in fact…
• 74% of people are either actively searching for a new job or are open to new opportunities*
• 69% of workers say searching for new opportunities is part of their regular routine, with 24% searching as frequently as once a week*
• Recruitment website CV Library received a total of 6,244 job applications on 25 December 2012, compared with 3,266 in 2011.
* CareerBuilder Survey

Communication of benefits
Only 15% of employees say they ask their HR department for in-depth advice on their benefits. That’s according to Prudential’s Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond. But this low figure isn’t due to a lack of interest, quite the contrary, employees are taking a more active role in managing their benefits. In fact, 30% of employees say they are doing more homework on what benefits are available to them.
Time for HR departments to stop assuming that employees will come knocking with questions about their benefit entitlement. Well-written, focused and regular communications drive benefit uptake, not just word of mouth.

Enrollment materials are particularly important tools as 82% of employees say they read such materials. But in order to be effective, enrollment materials should be delivered through the appropriate channels – simply mailing impersonal mass communication two weeks before the enrollment period won’t connect with today’s employees.

Employers need to invest time and effort into producing personalised, segmented communications materials that are delivered through the medium (or media) most appropriate to their audience on a regular basis. If not, they will run the risk of staff failing to consider added-value benefits when weighing up the pros and cons of moving job. If it all comes down to salary then your organisation may not be able to compete, but if benefits such as discounts on high-street shopping, childcare, pensions and cashback could make them think twice.

Recognition aids retention
Recognition (or lack thereof) of a job well done is a huge motivator of staff. In fact a lack of recognition from line managers, senior staff and colleagues is one of the main contributing factors in an individual seeking a new job.
• 46% higher turnover is seen in companies with ineffective recognition.
• 60% of people who don’t feel appreciated are looking for a job, whereas 80% who do are staying put.
*Globoforce survey
By employing well-structured recognition schemes, which allow both managers and colleagues to recognise the efforts of one another, employers can drastically reduce the number of staff in their organisation actively looking for a new job.

“Recognition and rewards systems are crucial to employers looking to retain top talent, especially as the job market improves,” says Amy Kaminski, vice president for Compdata Surveys. “Some studies suggest, as the job market rebounds, more employees will be looking to leave their current jobs in pursuit of new opportunities. Simply recognising employees for a job well done can have a huge impact on employee morale and, in turn, retention rates.”

So if you want to retain your best talent, reduce the cost of recruitment and maintain high productivity levels by keeping hold of staff that are already trained up for the job, it’s time to think seriously about how you communicate the value of the benefits you offer, as well as the value you place on each employee within your organisation.

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