How To Retain Top Talent

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In 2021 alone, The Great Resignation saw 47 percent of high-performing employees leave companies to join another —or better perks. For greater resonance with their values, or for more flexible, remote working — or to seek the fertile, fast-growing pastures of digital nomadism. And in terms of those who stayed? According to Willis Towers Watson’s 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, 44 percent of current employees are job seekers. A third of those are actively job hunting.

The Talent Gap has been identified as top-two critical issues facing global leaders. The workplace as we know it is destined to dramatically transform in the coming years. The key to every company’s current and future trajectory is learning how to attract, engage and retain the top-performing talent who, essentially, make it work.

The True Cost of Losing Top Talent

According to studies, a high-performing employee can deliver up to 400 percent more work than other employees and, apart from having a direct impact on business performance, has a pivotal knock-on effect of influencing and contributing to the all-important company culture, too. Apart from the gaping wound felt by losing key talent, there are also substantial, hard costs associated with hiring, training, and building effective teams.

Employee turnover can cost an average of 33 percent of the employee’s salary. For companies to break even on the expenses of onboarding a new manager, it takes just six months of the employee staying at the company. That is, if they stay! Since the latest statistics convey that nearly a third of employees leave their new job within the first six months, with almost 70 percent leaving within three months, it’s becoming clear for most business leaders, that retaining talent is far more cost-effective than hiring new people.

4 Top Tips for Retaining Top Talent

The key to success in today’s competitive market is putting people front and centre of your business strategy. It starts with recruiting and continues with identifying top talent that will stay the course and who fit the bill in terms of your company’s culture and values and what your business — and its future — needs.

1. Understand what your top performers want

The shifting dynamic of the workforce as well as the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic mean that, increasingly, perks often outweigh pay when it comes to giving employees what they want.

These can include things such as feeling like a valued member of the team. Access to resources that will allow you to learn, grow and do your job well. Feeling supported and appreciated; having a leader or manager that you can trust. The autonomy to set your own schedule; to name a few.

Conduct stay interviews (considered by some as the new exit interview): in-person, regular meetings with long-term, high-performing employees in which you attempt to uncover the parts of their job and your company that keep them coming back every day, so as to realise how to retain them before they even think of leaving. 

Take what you learn from the two-way conversation and apply it to inform a new, better way to work – for them as well as for new employees joining your teams.

2. Build the right culture

The hard truth is that employees who are less engaged (global employee engagement is estimated at 20 percent) are also more likely to leave. The best way to engage employees is through building a company culture where people feel seen, heard, valued, and empowered.

Your Top Performers are more aware of subtle sensitivities around the office based on experience in the workplace and a strong need to feel job satisfaction. The aim is therefore to cultivate a hub of safety and curiosity, to keep the flames of inspiration alive.  

Focus on creating partnerships with your employees. To do this, open lines of communication, seek feedback on company decisions, create mentorship programs, have approachable and supportive leadership – and deal with toxic employees immediately.

3. Invest in growing leaders

Investing in developing your leadership teams is critical to ensuring a healthy pipeline of next-gen leaders, across all levels of your business. It’s also a key tactic for retaining talent as it provides a way for employees to grow within a company rather than move elsewhere to fulfill their career goals.

Define the roles that are critical to creating value for your company moving forward, and then assess the skills, attributes, knowledge, and experience of existing talent. Run leadership development programmes to develop employees with potential so they can take on senior leadership positions.

At the same time, be a leader — and lead by example. Be the first to ensure that leadership structures in your business are flat, empowered, and empowering; and that the focus, made possible through collaboration and engagement, is on hero teams and not on hero leaders.

4. Set rewards systems that work

For decades, employee rewards programmes or benefits have featured the usual suspects: medical, dental, childcare; maybe even a gym contract. But, how relevant are these today? It’s estimated that 80 percent of top-performing employees want continued perks more than they do a pay raise. Strategised well, your rewards can be unique offerings that can set your company apart and show that you care about your workforce by being in tune with their needs.

Examples of these could be: a free day out of the office per month, a bed-day every quarter, a team lunch once a month; an incentive such as a night away for two as an employee target achievement; a spa treatment for a job well done. Get creative, and sensitive to this kind of people strategy – your employees will appreciate it. 

Always, sense check your reward strategy – do you have one in place? Is it working for your employees? Put your people first by understanding their needs, giving them what they need to thrive, and creating not only a company and culture that they feel proud, excited, and inspired to work for, but also ensuring that there’s ample scope for them to grow within the business, too.

Seek to create the kind of environment where the business’s potential mirrors their own; where they can see their future in the future of the company; and are engaged and rewarded to build it, effectively and with passion, with you, through real leadership.