Dodging the “I quit” Bullet – 3 Key Influences for Retention

Published: 20 April 2015

It is one of the first questions I ask of a candidate – be it an applicant or a headhunt approach – what is your reason for considering opportunities outside of your current organisation?  Why return my call?  Rarely, do I get a response which includes the word ‘money’ – this echoes Google’s HR boss, Laszlo Bock’s, thoughts that “people want to do more than just make a buck”.

Organisations invest significantly in recruiting and on-boarding new talent, from the engagement of a consultancy service, interview panels and the more prolific adoption of psychometric testing.  This all to ensure the ‘perfect’ employee fit.  However, how does an organisation seek to retain talent and ultimately reap the rewards of the heavy investment in employing such a candidate?  According to Bock, most companies lack the ability to retain their best employees and keep them away from competitor temptation.

A 2014 ‘Exit Survey’ conducted by LinkedIn asked recent ‘movers and shakers’ what compelled them to change companies -‘Greater opportunities for advancement’ came out on top.  Alarmingly, 85% of today’s workforce is receptive to a potential change of employer, according to the survey. Therefore, what key factors must an employer consider in retaining their best to reduce this high percentage rate?

  1. Development - Good employees want to feel challenged, with a clear vision of progression in their organisation or confidence that their current role will expand, rather than feeling ‘stagnated’.  Empower them with continuous development and training, take risks and listen to their business ideas.  Naturally, we will first consider internal prospects before looking externally, so employers must capitalise on this hunger. 
  2. Flexibility - Employees are becoming more aware of the need to balance their work and social/family life, largely due to the shift away from being a ‘stay at home’ parent in recent decades.  Telecommuting and ever advancing technology now makes this possible.  Offering flexibility and encouraging a healthy work life balance will make for a happy and content employee.  A few years ago, Goldman Sachs introduced the ‘leave the office behind at the weekend’ campaign, with those seeking to impress by working Saturday’s frowned upon from senior management.
  3. Reward - Whilst remuneration may not be the overriding factor for jumping ship, it is difficult to avoid the fact that compensation alone can tempt a candidate to consider moving.  Loyalty should be valued from long-standing employees, rather than allowing them to lag behind the market because of their commitment.  Ensuring that your salaries match the market rate will keep employees loyal and away from temptation. 

In today’s competitive market, where every organisation seeks to find the best talent, employers must not forget that equal effort must be applied in retaining key talent.  The cost of losing an employee equates to much more than just the cost of their replacement.  Employees are people, and all of us want to be valued, challenged and nurtured.

Samantha Baker is a specialist Researcher in the Berwick Partners HR Practice

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