Given the costs of hiring and training new employees, retaining skilled employees is a priority. I have lost count of the number of clients that phone me up in a panic because they need to find a replacement employee quickly – their star employee has resigned! Recruiting and selecting a new employee is difficult, costly and, most importantly, time-consuming.
Top tips for retaining skilled employees
1.Put a retention strategy in place
While it can’t be completely avoided, retaining skilled employees for as long as possible would be your best strategy to prevent star employees from resigning in the first place. Your retention strategy needs to be a broad strategy that encompasses training and development, succession planning and career growth for each star employee and, of course, your risk assessment for every department. Would you like help with this? Get in touch with me today.
2.Do a risk assessment
Retaining skilled employees only becomes a reality when your star employee says, “I’m resigning”. That’s when the realisation hits that your business needs this skilled individual. They are too valuable to the operation of your business.
While multi-skilling all your staff is ideal, it’s unrealistic. However, you should conduct a yearly risk assessment – in conjunction with your HR consultant or training department – which will form part of your overall retention strategy to ensure you’re capable of retaining skilled employees. The risk assessment should identify and prioritise those jobs and tasks that are crucial to the smooth operating of your department and detail how you can ensure that if an employee resigns you won’t be left in the lurch.
The risk assessment should also identify which staff members are most at risk of being “poached” by competitors or who are likely to resign, to enable you to put a strategy in place for retaining skilled employees. Would you like help with this? Get in touch with me today.
3.Find out what motivates your employees
Do you know why your star employee wants to work for your company? What motivates them? When a star employee says “I’m resigning” most companies react by immediately throwing money at the employee. However, studies show that most employees put money as the third reason for resigning, not their primary reason. In other words, you need to match the method of motivating and retaining skilled employees to their particular needs. It’s no good offering your competent, highly-skilled finance manager more money to stay when she wants to work flexi-time hours so she can spend time with her family.
4.Make your employees feel valued
Retaining skilled employees takes skill and good management. I often get told by clients (usually accompanied by a shrug) that “no-one is indispensable”. Actually, depending on the project or the job or the particular time of year, that’s really not true. Every employee is indispensable to your company at some point in their working life.
Treating employees like they are dispensable is a sure-fire way to ensure that they start looking elsewhere. And the reality check provided by a risk assessment means that you can put a retention strategy in place before a star employee resigns.
In my experience, the first knee-jerk reaction of a manager to the star employee’s decision to resign is to throw money at the problem. Suddenly, retaining skilled employees boils down to offering them more money to stay in their job. Apart from this being a bad idea, if that’s not the reason they are leaving in the first place, it also means that the employee has learnt a valuable lesson: they have power and you can’t afford for them to leave! I’ve consulted to some companies where, around increase time each year, star employees regularly threaten to resign. And, like Pavlov’s dog, the managers always negotiate above average increases for them.
The first problem with this is that inevitably other employees get to hear about it and also start threatening to resign. The second issue is if an employee suddenly gets a 20% increase when they said they were resigning, why wasn’t this increase offered before they resigned? After the initial happiness of the increase, this kind of reasoning can lead to employees feeling quite demotivated.
However, in case you think that you should hang on to all your employees no matter what…
6.Know when to cut your losses
Sometimes, even though they are star employees, the company does need to let these employees go. Especially if a situation is developing where employees threaten to resign if they don’t get what they want. I know of a number of departmental managers who have been held to ransom like this. The obvious solution is to do a risk assessment, put your back-up plans in place and let these employees go and start recruiting your next star employee.
For more information on retaining skilled employees, developing retention strategies and risk assessments contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 083 353 8319.