Understand your employees' aspirations to keep them

Finding and attracting permanent talent to an organisation isn’t always the easiest of tasks (unless you have chosen the right recruitment partner).

So once you have the right people in the right places, you want to embed the tools to retain and maximise your investment in them.  

It is inevitable that sometimes people will have their heads turned towards what they perceive to be greener grass; whether that grass is reality or perception, it is their reality but don’t worry there are plenty of tactics and initiatives you can use to reduce the likelihood of them moving on from your team and business. Think about some of the reasons that people offer in their letters of resignation…

The top reasons people choose to leave their job

  • Lack of career progression
  • Your management style
  • Improved salary / package
  • A change in personal circumstances
  • Changes to working conditions
  • Perceived employment stability
  • Conflict with another employee
  • Over-working and stress
  • Employer not holding up their end of the bargain

How many of these issues could you have attempted to resolve (or at least attempted to tackle head on) if you had been aware earlier? Chances are that for the right person it is most of them. The truth is few people take the decision to resign lightly. It often involves many a sleepless night, counsel from friends and family and then the horrible reality of communicating the decision.

Sometimes an employment journey comes to its natural conclusion. Although, more often than not it is a case that the goals the employee had when they joined the company have changed and they rightly or wrongly perceive that the only way to resolve the situation is to leave.

Map employee goals

One of the very best initiatives that you can undertake today is to roll-out a programme right across the organisation whereby you map the goals of your employees. It costs nothing but considered thought and time to implement but the potential rewards are there for both parties.

Mapping goals is simply a means of understanding the current professional and personal drivers, aspirations and objectives of your employees and putting the steps in place to help them achieve them and remain satisfied.

Nurture a workplace based upon mutual respect and trust

This process needs to commence at the interview stage. You want to make sure that before you bring new talent in to the organisation that their ambition is aligned with your expectations and objectives. However, what first attracted the candidate to your organisation may change as life has a habit of taking us all down different and unexpected paths.

Some employers may ask the standard question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” But what you really want to know is… “What do you want and expect to achieve in year one, year two and year three?” And, if our stars are in alignment, what do we need to do to get there together?  

Refresh goals quarterly

A mapping exercise should ideally incorporate quarterly update meetings between the employee and their Line Manager. Check-in on how they are progressing en-route to achieving their goals, or reset expectations and objectives based upon new or pending circumstance changes. It may initially sound excessive but they do not need to be lengthy formal affairs, and a conversation over a cup of coffee is often the ideal setting. In our experience people respond extremely positively to being given a voice, being listened to and valued in this way.

Mutual trust and development

This frequent interaction can also provide the perfect forum to uncover any underlying issues within the team or the wider business, as well as opportunities to improve how things are done, by giving less vocal or less senior members of the team a platform to express their ideas and opinions. Try undertaking a 360-degree feedback process – this ensures confidentiality from piers, colleagues and others in the business.

The trap of overpromising and under delivering

A cautionary note! Make sure you do not fall in to the trap of over promising and under delivering in the desire to please otherwise you will pay the price in the long run. Being ambitious is great but ensure the goals being set are realistic and achievable. Ensure both parties understand what has been agreed upon. It is wise to follow it up with an email, in order to create an audit trail and a point of reference.

Keep the lines of communication open

Many employees can be under the impression (rightly or wrongly) that they cannot be open and honest about any changes to their circumstances, whether it be planning a sabbatical, reducing hours to spend more time with the family, wanting a change of direction, or perhaps planning for early retirement.  Sometimes, you may not like what you hear but knowing in advance empowers you to plan more effectively for any change and consequently minimising any potential disruption. This will help in coming to a resolution that works for both parties.