Keeping quality staff in a tricky climate

Written by
Changeboard Team

23 Jul 2012

23 Jul 2012 • by Changeboard Team

Unexpected movement all change

It would seem sensible to presume that, with news of a rocky economy, many staff will stay put in their jobs. Most will fear moving to a new company and starting from scratch, when organisations might be fighting to keep their heads above water in the coming months. And this is assuming they are able to find a job at all. However, often it is periods of uncertainty that lead to a shake up in the workforce and encourage many to think about change – the theory being that they have nothing to lose and if something better comes along there is no better time to take a leap of faith. The best approach for HR people is to learn from what has happened before.

Findings from the most recent National Management Salary Survey from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) suggest that employers are struggling to hang on to workers, despite the turbulent employment market. In the 12 months leading up to September 2011, nearly 300,000 managers walked away from their jobs during an ongoing unstable economic period. While news of the ‘double-dip’ had not hit at this point, the economy was still teetering on the edge and workers continued to be nervous about what the future held.

One in ten managers quit

The figure of almost 300,000 managers equates to one in 10 of the management workforce (9.4%) resigning from their jobs last year – more than twice as many as quit the year before (3.9%). Overall labour turnover for management roles – those resigning, retiring, transferring internally and being made redundant – increased dramatically, nearly doubling on the year before. This kind of news and these kind of figures leave HR professionals with an epic job on their hands – in tricky times, how do you retain high quality staff in your organisation?

Salary is a natural starting point – you might seek to compare and contrast your offer to that of your competitors. Yet with businesses struggling to grow and many organisations freezing pay, most are conscious that there is no extra cash in the bank to be extravagant with pay rises, bonuses and financial rewards for staff. If awarded at all, these are modest and in line with annual rises and forecasts at best. As such, employers don’t have the means to convince an employee to stay for monetary benefits alone. And we would urge that resorting to salary is never the best approach, regardless of the economic climate.

Its not just about the money

Employers should look to other tactics to hold on to the staff they need. Rewarding hard work, loyalty and commitment is a vital part of a retention strategy. We need to nurture our most talented staff to ensure the future success of our businesses and, ultimately, the competitiveness of UK plc. Never has it been more important that employers find non-money-related ways of doing this.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your organisation invest in the training and progression of its staff?
  • Do you have and encourage a flexible working culture to support employees?
  • Is your organisation open and transparent, and do you listen to what your workers have to say?

Introducing many of these elements can be as rewarding, if not more rewarding, for staff than a salary increase. Put yourself in their shoes and think, as a manager in your organisation, what would make you want to stay and motivate you to do a good job?

Progression is everything

Always make sure that your staff are on a progression route and they know what their short-term and long-term goals and objectives consist of. Give them tangible tasks to keep them interested and engaged in the work they do day-to-day. If motivated and challenged to a manageable level, they’ll be less inclined to shop around. If money is tight for training, look at how this can be implemented and achieved using internal talent and resources. Improving the quality and integrity of managers and leaders has a positive impact on organisational performance and reputation. Investing in your employees also shows that you are as committed to their professional development as they are, and doing it in a way that meets their job role shows that you are helping them achieve this. It will also lead to a more competent and confident workforce - the essential building blocks of any successful company. 

We’re all aware of how important it is to attract talented people to our organisations and to keep them once they are working with us. The difficult economic climate may continue to make significant pay increases unlikely. However, creating a workplace culture which focuses on other kinds of rewards and, vitally, has been designed in consultation with employees, can make your organisation stand out from the crowd.