Engaging and retaining your best employees

What are you doing to retain your top performers? It’s a good time to think strategically about how to keep your talent and create a thriving post-pandemic organisation. Let's look at how you can engage your existing team to increase the likelihood of longer-term retention.

Time to read: 4 mins

The importance of leading well

It hasn’t been easy to lead well over the past two years and real thought is required to get it right. It requires re-imagining how you, the employer, lead and develop others, considering things like how you communicate, create strong teams and develop a positive workplace culture.

All work can be meaningful no matter the task. Does it mean your people need a “calling”? No. But you can establish meaning by setting the vision, telling your story, and making the connection for them. Know your values and what you stand for as an organisation, and double down on culture.  Reframe tasks to connect to the larger purpose (remember the NASA janitor who, when asked, “what do you do?” answered “helping put a man on the moon”?).

Now is the time for leaders to step up and own their role. This requires a cognisant effort into all aspects of how things are done – from meetings through to development. A good quote to bear in mind is, “Maturity comes, not with age, but with the acceptance of responsibility” (former General Motors executive Ed Cole).

Know your Employee Value Proposition

Genuinely ask the question, “Why would current or prospective staff work for my company instead of elsewhere?”. Understand what your employees dislike and what they gravitate to. Ask them relevant questions and utilise information sources such as exit interviews (best done by an independent party). There can be a lot of factors influencing where they’d prefer to work – remuneration yes, but also meaning, impact, job content, development opportunities, team, culture and life balance. 

The employee experience

Consider the key touchpoints in the "life cycle" of employees – these are the human aspects of work that can make a big difference and include People Processes such as:

  • Hiring
  • Onboarding
  • Development
  • Reward and recognition
  • Exit

Look at how formal and spontaneous interpersonal connections develop a sense of community. Review communication effectiveness and create meaningful interactions, not just transactions. Meetings are a classic connection point – when done correctly they pose an opportunity; know their purpose and do them well. Take a conscious look at how you engage your people, what you can do to enhance wellbeing, and how you build a sense of team and create a strong organisational culture.

Time and again, engagement surveys show that staff development is a priority, so put in place development plans and mentoring programmes.

A flexible working model

From an attraction and retention perspective, flexibility is a key selling point. Redesigning your work model is better than watching your investment walk out the door. Employees are looking for greater flexibility and will feel more committed to the workplace if you accept and support their commitment to the other important things in their lives. 

A hybrid work model should be a serious consideration, but do not underestimate the amount of structure needed for this to work well. It needs careful planning and design, an understanding of people’s personal situations and a balance of care that is offset with communicating personal responsibility and productivity, along with a focus on outcomes rather than actions.

It may also need a re-education of more traditional managers – a remote employee is not automatically less engaged or less communicative – don’t mistake physical presence for loyalty. It also needs the right digital communication platform to act as a main channel where information and conversation is captured for both remote and onsite workers.

My overarching point here is to keep your eye on the ball. Take some time and be strategic and about how things are done and change it up. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done”.

DISCLAIMER No liability is assumed by Baker Tilly Staples Rodway for any losses suffered by any person relying directly or indirectly upon any article within this website. It is recommended that you consult your advisor before acting on this information.

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