How effective is your retention strategy?

How effective is your retention strategy?
Whether you have recently created a new retention strategy (see our article where to begin with your retention strategy) or are working with your existing framework, it’s a good idea to regularly assess the value and effectiveness of how you keep people in your business.

By getting feedback from staff and the general public you can really understand your strategy in practice and what you could be doing to improve it. As always it’s a work-in-progress!

Measure your successes and pitfalls

There are various tools available to measure and test the work you’re doing around retention that are simple and easy to implement. Here are four simple ideas to get you started:

1/ Staff surveys
For a regular measurement of how staff feel about their work environment, ask them.

Surveys don’t have to be complicated, but by coming up with a few questions each month you can really assess the impact of your strategy and make adjustments based on feedback. Afterall, your staff are your best asset. Monitoring their happiness levels and what they would like to see changed is a great way to keep staff happy and engaged. Find out what is and isn’t working and then act on consensus and you will see results.

2/ Focus groups
For deeper insight into specific issues try encouraging a discussion among colleagues.

While a “focus group” sounds formal, you can rebrand it and make it your own to become more of an informal “chat about a particular issue” . Employees often feel more comfortable discussing issues with their peers and so hosting this kind of event is a great way to learn more about their real experiences with your business. Be sure to follow up on the results with a direct conversation or action points to make changes, all which should be communicated back to staff.

3/ Exit and stay interviews (more to come on this!)
For an honest appraisal of what people love or loathe  about your organisation.

Give employees a chance to tell you face-to-face what they think about your business, what could be improved and why they want to leave/stay. Establish a schedule for quarterly stay interviews, afterall these are the most important interviews for keeping the people you already have. Use their suggestions and comments to improve your retention strategy. What can you do to make them stay? What are the reasons for wanting to leave? Formal exit interviews for employees who resign are also a great way to measure the success or pitfalls of your strategy and improve it.

4/ Employer brand research
An “employer brand” is how your business is perceived by prospective employees and the general public as a whole.

The annual Randstad Employer Brand Research, conducted every year, helps us to understand what New Zealanders look for in an employer brand and what makes a business attractive to employees. The research provides an invaluable insight about what employees really want from a brand and can be used to help to shape your own brand to make sure it ticks all of the right boxes.

Monitor your effectiveness in progress

A retention strategy should always be a work-in-progress, constantly fine-tuned as staff levels, work environments and industries change. However, in order to know where the fine-tuning must be done, certain performance measures must be put in place to test the strategy’s success rates. The areas that should constantly be monitored include:
  • Staff turnover rates – the single clearest measure of your strategy success.
  • Cost of recruitment – if this is rising at a time of slow business growth, alarm bells should be ringing.
  • Knowledge retention – a good measure of whether your staff are being upskilled and retained.
  • Production levels – if production efficiency is increasing, then it is a good sign that the right people with the right knowledge are being retained and motivated to do a good job.

What the research says....

As touched upon, it’s a good idea to look outside of your company at the bigger picture. The 2016 Randstad Employer Brand Research gives great insights into brand effectiveness and what New Zealand employees really think about work.

The first thing to know is that your brand is your biggest asset when it comes to attracting and retaining employees. It is essentially your reputation and how people perceive your company. Your “employer brand” is an extension of that and helps people decide whether or not they want to work for you. A strong employer brand can give employees a very good reason to stay and a weak brand can be a reason for employees to leave.  

The 2016 Randstad Employer Branding Research report showed that more than one third (30%) of employees plan on leaving their current employer in the next six to twelve months. This should raise alarm bells. A high turnover suggests an increasingly disengaged workforce and a hole in a retention strategy.

The report also highlighted the top three biggest reasons for changing employers in New Zealand are a lack of career opportunities (53%), low compensation (43%) and a lack of recognition (36%).

Many businesses are waking up to the importance of carefully and strategically managing their top talent – that is finding ways to attract, develop and keep high-performing individuals.

While the 2016 Randstad Employer Brand Research recognised the most attractive employers across New Zealand, it also highlighted that some employers have more work to do in attracting and keeping the best talent.

Organisations can engage and retain talent by offering some key benefits such as ‘work-life balance’, a ‘competitive salary’, ‘flexible working arrangements’, and a ‘pleasant culture’, says the report. Other factors that employees reported as increasing their chances of staying included ‘being recognised’, ‘strong relationship with manager’ and their intrinsic ‘passion about the job and industry’.

While more important than in the past, according to the report, New Zealand talent still find ‘salary and benefits’ as one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing a new job. A ‘pleasant working atmosphere’ and a ‘good work-life balance’ are most important after salary.
The trend suggests that talent is starting to value their work atmosphere and balance with their personal lives more than before, while finding salary less important than they used to. These are changes for employers to consider when reviewing and designing their talent strategy.

Focus on the important reasons

While basic factors such as a good salary, stability (of job and organisation) and training opportunities are still important, it seems that employees are increasingly valuing what would be augmented benefits of their jobs (i.e. ‘good working atmosphere’, ‘work life balance’, ‘interesting job content’, ‘flexibility’, ‘recognition’ and ‘good leadership/management’).

In short, salary is not the main reason for staying – work-life balance is.

There is no magic bullet for keeping your staff, but you could do worse than looking at your leadership capability, establishing flexible working and looking at career development opportunities for individuals. HR managers cite this as the biggest reason for losing staff, besides a better pay rate.
Posted: Monday, 13 March 2017 - 8:00 AM