Retaining Staff

When most people commute to work, rarely are they thinking about how much money they’re being paid for their job. Chances are, they’re contemplating their level of happiness and whether it’s worth their while to stay with the company they’re currently working for. It costs a lot of money and time to train new staff, not to mention the headaches involved with finding someone who will be a good fit for the company. So what can you do to ensure your business retains staff already in your employ?

Mercer Human Resource Consulting took a survey of employees in Australia, and they discovered nearly 25 percent of the people who answered planned to look for a new job sometime in the next twelve months. It’s estimated that the turnover cost to a company is between 50% to 150% of the employee’s annual salary. Yes, replacing staff is an expensive exercise.

For most employees, deciding whether to stay or go has a lot to do with whether they enjoy their work environment. For small businesses, matching a salary package to that of larger corporations is difficult, so to overcome these limitations, providing a positive work culture will help you retain staff and attract new employees to your business.

A clear strategy is needed to make this happen, and the only way to develop one that works is by asking some hard questions about the business and management. Even though the answers may not be what you want to hear, there is hope. You can take action to modify the operation of your business and, with some soul searching, develop a strategy that will not only benefit you, but your employees also.

Here are some starter questions:

• What changes would make my agency a more attractive place to work?

• Is the work place clean, orderly, and professional?

• Do we use a mentor or buddy system to welcome new employees?

• How can relationships between colleagues and managers become more collaborative, positive and rewarding?

• Do we encourage a work/rest balance in 90 minute stints?

• Are staff opportunities to learn and develop available?

• What opportunities for promotion or progression are available?

• How can we recognise outstanding employee performance, and how frequently are such recognitions given?

• Does the agency seek and make changes based on feedback from employees?

Losing staff can sometimes have a lemming effect. If one employee leaves because they’re unhappy, then it’s only natural for those left behind to question their role in the company and perhaps look at what is available elsewhere. But if you can make the work culture in your business attractive, then people will line up outside your doors to be employed, rather than your staff scurrying for the nearest exit.

When deciding how to make changes, it’s important to talk with all your managers and staff, no matter how long they’ve been with the company. A newer staff member will have a very different view of the workplace compared to that of someone who has been with the company for ten years or so. Every opinion counts, and it’s not until you receive all the feedback that you’ll get a clear picture as to why your staff choose to stay or go. And from that information, you can make any changes necessary to help your business become the place where staff can’t wait to get to.

Final thought: Just about everyone talks about their work environment to colleagues, friends and family. Imagine listening in on one of these conversations. What would your employee say? Would it be positive or negative? If you think the comments would be less than favourable, then have another look at the questions above and work out what you can do to alter this situation. Devise a plan, make the changes necessary, and the next time you imagine your employee talking about their workplace, the positive comments will be fact, not fiction.