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5 ways HR can help organisations retain their best talent

5 ways HR can help organisations retain their best talent

UK businesses are having trouble recruiting and retaining talent – and it’s costing a colossal amount of money. Research recently released by UK jobs board, Totaljobs and employer brand specialist, Universum found that 54% of the British workforce are looking to change jobs in the next 12 months, while 38% are planning to within 6 months. Only 10% see themselves still being at their organisation in four years’ time. These findings raise several urgent questions. But the most pressing matter for HR professionals is certain: ‘What must organisations do to retain and recruit the best talent?’


4 ways HR can help with employee retention:


  1. Prioritise your employees’ professional development

Organisations must provide challenging work as well as continuous personal and professional development such as training or coaching or indeed, a new role.

HR needs to consider being more transparent about internal growth opportunities or systems in place to guide employees to their new ones. Where there are formal career paths, HR should be clear about them with employees and managers, so they have a full understanding of each other’s goals. One key question that should be asked when trying to achieve this is ‘does my business need HR software?’ considering it could seriously help with this process.

When a position becomes vacant, consider hiring internally rather than recruiting externally by default. Creating opportunities for career progression sends the message to employees that management is serious about the succession of their workforce as well as their long-term goals – in turn, increasing the likelihood that they will remain with the company.

But above all, organisations must invest in the learning and development of their workforce. This means equipping employees with new skills, technologies, processes, and furthering their education in order to make them feel valued. Learning should be integrated into everyday tasks and projects. If an employee senses that a role can no longer grow, they will see their career being limited, which is in turn, business-limiting.


  1. Create a company culture that makes employees want to stay

Culture rivals career growth in terms of retention for good reason. It’s the sum of the company’s values, interactions and attitudes, and it affects everything from attracting the right talent, to engagement, job satisfaction, performance and retention. A healthy work-life balance might be the key.

Setting clearly defined values that attract the right blend of people and technical skills is vital in ensuring higher retention.

Culture is driven by several factors that HR can shape and direct. For example, nowadays we are seeing more organisations challenging the ‘in-office’ mentality. Totaljobs and Universum found that a quarter of employees want flexible working, a fifth would like a higher holiday allowance to avoid burnout, and 17% think remote working would increase productivity, in turn making them feel more challenged, and less likely to leave their job for another.

Attitudes to the workplace could use revising as well. Organisations should create a culture that encourages openness between colleagues, and that includes management as well as employees. Openness drives discussion and collaboration, as well as employee empowerment. Open forums such as online workspaces allow employees to express new ideas, methods, and technologies, in turn giving them the feeling they are making decisions that are helping drive the success of the business.

Expressions of appreciation are hugely effective in retaining well-performing employees. From a personalised thank-you email to a formal letter of recognition, there are several incentives an organisation can offer its employees. From perks and rewards that might, for instance, include discounts and prizes for exceptional work; a line manager’s acknowledgement of employee excellence can’t be overstated, and HR can do a lot to facilitate this.


  1. Make sure management understand their responsibilities and meet the mark

If an employee has grievances with their manager – perhaps they feel ignored, that their work is unappreciated or unrecognised, that they’re being micromanaged, that they’re being deliberately held back or treated unequally – they will leave.

There are several steps HR can take. To equip management with the right skills and abilities helps them to assume the responsibilities of their position and to ensure they understand the importance of career mobility for employees.

Upper management should endeavour to know their employees as individuals – whether it may involve making small talk, more regular appraisals, or conversation. HR can help foster interactions between managers and employees through management training and coaching that helps promote camaraderie and collaboration.

One of the most important roles for HR is to help management understand what their role is. Such a task entails the shaping of a culture where managers think about career mobility in talent reviews and succession management. Organisations might, for instance, consider providing incentives for managers for developing employees.

It’s very tempting for management to actively inhibit their outstanding employees from succession to stop themselves from losing their best performers. However, this only serves to increase employee grievances. HR should endeavour to train and develop managers’ coaching and mentoring skills, as well as offering rewards for building and sharing talent pools.

But remember managers also quit

The employee experience also affects management retention as well. Managers that feel isolated, that their growth has been abandoned by their company, that they’re overworked, are very likely to leave in a year.

It’s important that HR professionals acknowledge that managers also quit, and they should take this into account when devising the management part of their retention strategy.

According to a recent Talentlms survey which asked managers why they were leaving their jobs, there are three main reasons why they leave:

  1. Bad communication with their co-workers and teammates, which created an unhealthy working environment
  2. Not being part of the decision-making process
  3. A lack of training

What the survey tells us is clear: relationships are fundamental. 7% of respondents revealed feeling lonely, and 73% of those said they were thinking of leaving in the next year.

The survey also revealed that experienced managers are more likely to leave their jobs; interestingly, 74% of managers who had 3+ years of management experience, claimed their company took less care of them now.

  1. Consider weekly check-ins, rather than annual appraisals

Employees want to know how they can do their job better and appraisals are among the best ways of providing constructive feedback, but we need to rethink how they’re done.

The traditional approach to appraisals just doesn’t cut it anymore, with a recent Cezanne HR survey revealing nearly half of employees feel indifferent to or dread performance reviews.

Consider implementing check-ins as part of your performance management strategy. It’s a series of regular conversations between managers and employees about work, progress and goals that are on-going throughout the year. Check-ins help develop soft skills that are necessary to career progression. Indeed, a recent Gallup survey reveals employees are more motivated to do great work when they receive weekly rather than annual feedback.

Regular check-ins will help to build the relationship between managers and their people. When it’s not possible to respond to people’s desires or requests, the door is open for a constructive discussion about alternatives.

Establishing check-ins is a challenge – but there’s a lot that HR can do to overcome those challenges. HR software can be especially effective. Cezanne HR provides a quick and easy way to record conversations, achievements and agreed goals or outcomes, so it’s easier to ensure everyone is aligned.


Start acting now to retain your staff in 2020

When employees feel like:

  • there’s room for growth in the organisation
  • they can envision meeting their long-term goals there, and
  • that they are in an environment in which they are being continually challenged

… then they will be more likely to stay.

There are several initiatives HR can take the lead on in an organisation – most relating to cultivating a culture that:

  • triumphs professional development,
  • enables a healthy work-life balance,
  • makes employees feel valued, and
  • gives them opportunities to climb the ladder.

What steps are you taking to retain your best talent?


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