Retaining Talent in Tough Times

Employee retention practices tend to take a back seat to more pressing business activities, but as we know, we need to be prepared for times of financial growth.  This is when executives tend to seek out new opportunities leaving their companies vulnerable. During a financial upswing we should be focusing our time and resources on making the most of the opportunities rather than focusing our efforts on the often laborious process of new executive appointments.

So what measures can be put in place to prevent talent from looking for greener pastures?

A retention strategy starts from acquisition and on-boarding, includes training and talent management and ends with exit interviews. We hope the following strategies are helpful reminders:-

1. Educate yourself:

Investigate what executives or employees truly think of your company. Why do people leave? What does senior management think of the company culture? These are all important questions to ask in order to grasp a bigger picture of the real issues experienced by employees.

Exit interviews are a good way to source this information.

2. Rewards programs.  

Many employees value job satisfaction and benefits more than cost to company remuneration, but that only holds true to a point. Aside from attractive remuneration, allowing executives the freedom to develop their skills through coaching, new skills development and networking opportunities is attractive to top individuals. Ironically, the best way to keep your employees is to prepare them for their next position.

3. Let mistakes happen:

Contrary to intuition, sometimes too much coaching can backfire. Micro-management stifles creativity, innovation or risk taking and communicates a lack of trust.

Another mistake is making assumptions about your new appointments’ level of aspiration. It is best to be direct in your approach to this early on, establishing intentions from the get go. This makes it far easier for the company to meet expectations and lay out structures that will satisfy both parties in the long run.

4. If you can’t promote, widen the area of responsibility

Many candidates are disillusioned by not receiving the promotion they had hoped for.  Whilst it may not be possible or a good strategic decision to promote an individual, if they are a valued employee, they could be retained through offering increased challenge or responsibility.  In our experience, individuals in the middle of a challenging project or in the process of learning a new skill are seldom open to entertaining a headhunting approach.