6 focus areas for maintaining a high level of staff retention

Well-trained, long-term employees are brand advocates who provide your company with a stable working environment and reliable work flow. Whether you are the head of a multinational organisation or a two-man start-up, maintaining a high level of staff retention should be a cornerstone for any successful business. Andrew Morris, Director at Robert Half, shares his insight into improving staff retention.

At Robert Half, we recently surveyed HR directors across Australia for the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide and found that non-financial incentives are just as important as a competitive remuneration package. In fact, in the past year, 30% of resignations were for better work-life balance and 23% for further career advancement. In addition, staff retention can also be affected by stunted career progression, a lack of workplace mentorship and even a toxic office environment.

When these issues strike, it no longer becomes a problem for employees, but rather one for the entire business. However, there are a number of areas that employers can focus on to help improve staff retention in 2015:

1. Career direction

A common reason why staff members leave their jobs is to seek out career advancement. In 2014, Towers Watson conducted a 2014 Global Workforce Study across 31 markets around the world, including Australia. More than 32,000 employees were surveyed and 41% said they would need to leave their current employer in order to advance their career.

This desire is often about finding a new challenge in order to grow, learn and be more fulfilled in the workplace. HR managers and business owners should look into setting up a career development program for their staff, and equip managers with the necessary skills to discuss role advancement during performance management conversations.

2. Mentoring

It’s important to implement a mentoring process to help staff members feel supported and to satisfy their desire to keep learning. Large organisations can look at a structured program that appropriately matches older, more experienced personnel, with new hires.

Mentors can ‘show them the ropes’ and guide their development. Small businesses can also introduce a similar process, which may involve the owner or director of the firm providing ongoing on-the-job and professional development support with frequent face-to-face meetings.

3. Remuneration

Another factor influencing staff retention is remuneration. As a business, ensure your personnel are compensated for their hours by using industry benchmarks. Consider salary rates, as well as paid overtime, leave policies and benefits. With the latter, parking, free or discounted gym memberships, and childcare can also make a difference to retention rates.

4. Workplace culture

Many employees choose to leave their workplaces due to a toxic office environment. To stop top talent from walking out the door, business owners and managers need to look closely at their workplace culture and at ways to improve it. Ideas can include organising regular social events and setting up family-oriented activities that let employees combine work and life in a positive way. Sporting events, amusement-park excursions and beach outings are also popular.

5. Training

As well as offering on-the-job training, firms can also invest in their employees by offering advice on working smarter. Specialist training organisations can come into the business and run seminars that detail tactics, such as managing workloads more effectively, stopping unproductive work habits, and increasing healthy eating and exercise habits.

6. Part-time work or telecommuting

For many people, being able to switch to part-time hours or working from home is important. Businesses should look at offering job-sharing roles to help retain valuable employees who need to cut back their hours. Similarly, telecommuting opportunities (even part-time ones) can reduce stress levels. While some managers might have concerns about staff working remotely, there are plenty of ways to keep personnel relationships thriving, even when you’re not in the same office.

The individual needs of employees may vary considerably. Employers need to have candid discussions with staff to understand the most valued processes to put in place.

While SEEK partners with trusted contributors to bring you the latest insight and advice, the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
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Andrew Morris

Robert Half

Director – QLD, NSW and New Zealand

During Andrew Morris's time with Robert Half, he has held a number of high level positions in both Australia and Hong Kong. He uses his knowledge, expertise and experience of the Australian and Asian recruitment markets to offer clients,...

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