Prevention is better than cure, and preserving is better than hiring. It is much more attractive for a company to retain an employee who already knows the organization, is satisfied, and knows that there are career opportunities than to look for a new employee. Not to mention onboarding and training to get the required skills to the right level. Something like that takes time and time takes…? Correct. 

Add to this the fact that there is currently a dire talent shortage (and a surplus of vacancies) and you understand why retention is now more important than ever. But what does a good retention strategy look like? And does this mean that you should want to retain employees at all costs? Cornerstone gives five tips for a successful retention strategy. 

1. Retention starts with selection 

A good retention policy starts with the selection. While many organizations currently focus primarily on the skills and experience of candidates, it is worth considering giving more weight to psychological factors: what kind of personality does someone have and how does that person fit within the team in question? The reason for this is twofold. First of all, our work is changing, which means the skills required will also change. However because it is not always clear which skills will be required in the future, recruitment is wise to select more often based on generally defined skills. Consider, for example, analytical thinking, a fairly general skill that can be useful in several functions. 

The second argument for focusing more on character traits has everything to do with retention. By choosing talent that fits within the corporate culture and is complementary in terms of personality to the rest of the team, you create the conditions for a working environment in which a new employee will thrive. Satisfied employees are known to be less likely to seek refuge elsewhere. 

2. Growth potential 

Just because an employee is satisfied within a company today does not automatically mean that he will still be satisfied in a year’s time. As in every relationship, the relationship between employer and employee is also about investing. One of the ways in which an employer can do this is to provide room for (personal) growth. In fact, you should assume that employees are always looking for new challenges and opportunities to develop themselves. And if their employer cannot meet that need, they will look elsewhere. 

With the help of a talent development program and training opportunities, you as an employer make it clear that there are opportunities for internal growth. Be flexible to a certain extent and try to prevent a training or course from coming across as a forced choice. But at the same time, make it clear what acquiring certain knowledge or skills can yield in the long term from a job perspective. 

3. Invest in the company culture 

We already mentioned it in the first tip: corporate culture plays an important role in attracting and retaining talent. So invest in this. And this can be done by organizing an afternoon of paintball, having a bite to eat together, or a crash course in caricature drawing – you name it. But also keep in mind that there are always employees who are not interested in such an activity. Therefore, at least ensure variety in the type of activity and do not opt for a sporting outing every time, for example. 

However, developing a close corporate culture goes beyond a team-building activity from time to time. For example, give managers and executives the time and opportunity to refine their leadership capabilities. For employees, the relationship with their direct manager is the most important indicator of how they feel within the organization. Their retention therefore largely depends on this. But also very practical matters such as an office lunch, flexible hours, and the option to use business technology such as a laptop for private purposes contribute to the culture within an organization. 

4. Let go every now and then 

It is an illusion that you can always keep everyone happy, in some cases it is wiser to let go and let employees go their way elsewhere. Not only can continuing to appease employees lead to crooked faces from colleagues, but it will also lead to a culture in which these extras are regarded as standard instead of – indeed – extra. Moreover, employees who are dissatisfied have a negative impact on the atmosphere in the workplace. Nothing is more fatal to job satisfaction than a toxic colleague who infects others with his melancholy. In that case, letting go is the motto. 

5. Create structure and clarity 

A final tip: ensure there is a structured policy around retention, only then will it become an integral part of daily business. Moreover, it offers clarity to employees and managers. Record available training budgets here, as well as the options for further training. But also consider the processes surrounding giving feedback: how and with what frequency do employees and managers have a conversation in which performance and performance are discussed? And how is the follow-up of these conversations guaranteed? Perhaps not the sexiest part of retention, but no less necessary. 

At Octagon, we specialize in crafting tailored onboarding, offboarding, and retention strategies designed to deliver optimal results for your business. If you are looking for assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are ready to develop a customized strategy perfectly aligned with your unique needs.

Author: Naomi Krosenbrink.

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