It’s a dog-eat-dog world when it comes to talent attraction. There is an ongoing war on talent and recruiters show no mercy when it comes to poaching staff.
They will relentlessly hunt your prime talent in an effort to nail that candidate. They will think nothing of leaving you behind, wondering why your most capable and skilled employees have walked.
Or do they? Let’s get one thing straight. Recruiters don’t gag and bound your talent, put a gun to their head and make them leave your business.
No. They leave of their own free will.
And, why do they do that? It’s simple: They’ve had a better offer elsewhere.
According to the 2013 Deloitte Shift Index, 80% of employees are dissatisfied in their jobs.
There wouldn’t be a recruitment industry if it wasn’t for unhappy candidates. So, employers should be looking at their talent retention strategies instead of scratching their heads and wondering why their very best employees are requesting their P46s.
Poaching has become a perilous issue for businesses. The law now recognises this. A recent High Court ruling gives employers victory over staff poaching by competitors after a case involving an employee who walked out of his job after being poached from another business and refused to work his notice period.
Unfortunately for employers, this is a common occurrence. Once a candidate has another job, many feel that they don’t need to work notice periods, especially if they have been unhappy in their current position. This can cause significant consequences to business including, unfinished projects, staff demoralisation and financial losses; usually due to the high costs involved with retraining and rehiring.
Attracting and retaining talent has never been as critical to employers as it is right now. The economy is growing and with it, so is the demand for highly skilled and talented professionals.
Talent retention should not be taken lightly. Companies that have a real focus on talent retention are the ones that often reap the long-term rewards because of it. According to a SAP sustainability report, retaining staff levels at 93% was due to ‘long term thinking.’
“This principle extends to how we work to attract and retain talent. In order to reach our goals, we must hold onto the people who make our success possible. Their ideas, passion and commitment fuel our innovation and help ensure our long-term, sustainable future (SAP, 2011).
The majority of employers understand the need for effective strategies when it comes to sales, marketing and revenue generation, but many fail to grasp the necessity of candidate attraction and retention strategies.”
So what are the key components that employers need to focus on?
1. Career progression/advancement
The majority of professionals want to progress on the career ladder. Those who reach a standstill in their job roles are the ones who feel deflated, undervalued and de-motivated. Lack of career advancement and growth creates dissatisfied workers. When employees are included in the long-term plans of the company and are incentivized though promotions and appraisals, they are the ones who usually end up staying at a company for longer; repaying their employers with loyalty and dedication to the job.
2. Fresh challenges
Keeping employees engaged is of high importance in your talent retention strategy. More and more Gen Ys are leaving education with what Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. describes as (in his report ‘How to Recruit, Hire, and Retain Best of Generation Y’) “…a dynamic mix of academic and work experiences that have them positioned to contribute from day one. They are not interested in ‘grunt’ jobs, or jobs in which they have to ‘pay their dues’; they seek challenging work from the start.” For more technical roles, keeping up to date with emerging trends enables employees to feel like they are also advancing in line with their development.
3. Continual training/learning and development
According to a (2012) learning survey by Niace, there is a direct ‘correlation’ between sustained employment and learning. Employees who feel like they don’t have the opportunity to grow and develop their skill-sets within a company are the most likely to look for opportunities elsewhere with employers that have do a focus on learning and continual training. Personal development is of high importance to employees and those who undertake continuous learning and training are the most likely to be motivated. Upgrading skills and current knowledge enables employees to perform better overall, thus enhancing their overall feeling of value and worth in the workplace.
Training, learning and development is important not only for professional growth, but for personal growth also.
4. Great working environment
Creating a ‘great working environment’ has become more of a buzz-term over the past few years; however it is crucial in your retention strategy. Employers who have their eye on the ball when it comes to staff retention have come up with different ways to ensure that they become an employer brand who does promote their working environment. Some environmental benefits are innovative, some are very generous and others could be classed as downright bizarre; either way, they are helping to retain staff.
5. Quality of life
Everybody strives to achieve a good work/life balance, especially those with families. According to the most recent OECD report, many couples would like to have children but don’t because they don’t see how they would be able to afford to and others would like to work more. Governments find this challenging because failing to achieve a good work/life balance is a threat to the development of their country. An important factor in W/L balance is the amount of hours an employee works. The report says that “Evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardize safety and increase stress.” Employers can combat this in a number of ways. Flexible working hours, working from home and early finishes at weekends are just a few ways in which employers can be seen to recognise the importance of W/L balance to their staff.
The threat of redundancy can create a psychological effect on a person and redundancies can lead to all-round insecurities within an environment. According to Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University Management SchoolCary Cooper in a recent NHS article ‘Redundancy fear’ “Job insecurity can have an impact both on the way individuals work and on the general atmosphere of the workplace.” Uncertainty can lead to what Professor Cooper refers to as ‘presenteeism.’ This is where employees strive to be noticed as good employees and overwork themselves, which paradoxically leads to exhaustion. This leads to less W/L balance and problems at home. Workers who feel insecure also become competitive, resulting in less team collaboration.
7. Poor management or leadership
In the book First Break All the Rules: What The Worlds’ Greatest Managers Do Differently, writers Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman say that employees don’t leave jobs, employees leave managers. And, they are right. If employees don’t like managers, it can lead to trepidation of the workplace, i.e. dreading going to work. Managers that don’t listen, engage, monitor performance and appraise staff are usually the ones who have to deal with low retention rates. A manager’s role doesn’t stop at the job specification. A good manager will produce a happy, engaged and inspired workforce and have excellent leadership qualities. They will be a go-to person, thus creating a relaxed atmosphere, where staff feel comfortable in approaching them on any matter, big or small.
8. Improved Remuneration
Interestingly and contrary to widespread belief, salary isn’t a primary reason for people to leave jobs. However it is a key issue when people are deciding whether or not to leave a company.
Salary is important. After all, everyone has to eat. So, one thing you should look at is the comparables of your main competitors i.e. the companies that are probably headhunting your talent as we speak.
Are you offering the industry average for your roles? Have you been on a salary checker recently? Can you improve on what your competitors are prepared to pay?
For example, you pay your IT trainer £25k a year. They have just got a mortgage and are struggling to maintain payments. A recruiter has heard on the grapevine that your IT trainer is the best there is. They also know their salary. A quick chat with their client (your opponent), conjures up a package of £30k plus benefits. Is your IT trainer going to stay or go?
There has been a talent war brewing in the UK for many years, but right now, it is more forceful than ever. Employers need to adopt certain strategies to be in a favourable position with employees in an attempt to grow their business from the inside out. Branding really does come from within. Employers who recognise this and have a focus on nurturing and developing every single employee will be the ones who will create a happy, dynamic and engaged workforce; thus boosting productivity and opportunities for long term success.