How to make staff stay

In a competitive, skills-short market, one of the biggest questions on every leader’s mind is how to make their best staff stay.

Good people are in high demand and if they are not happy then they can and will look for other options.

At Hunton Executive, we find time and time again that the reason people leave jobs is they feel uninspired, unchallenged and under-valued. A recent survey by McKinsey was well in line with this, finding the top factors driving retention are:

  • Flexibility
  • Meaningfulness of work
  • Support for health & wellbeing

And the top factors driving attrition are:

  • Lack of career development and advancement
  • Inadequate total compensation
  • Uncaring and uninspiring leaders
  • Unsustainable work expectations

A solid plan for keeping people happy is a must for any leader. Here are some tactics for doing just that.

1. Be an inspiring leader

Their manager’s style and leadership skills such as empathy and decision-making is one of the biggest reasons for people leaving a job. And in today’s market the gap between average, good and extraordinary leadership is getting wider. Training for leaders is a must. For further insight on ways to become an extraordinary leader, try this article. 

2. Have a performance based culture

Performance based cultures, where it is clear staff are rewarded for high performance, are very attractive to current and prospective staff.


3. Embrace diversity

The decision to promote people to reach a D&I quota and not because they are the right person for the job is the cause of a lot of resentment and friction in workplaces. The issue here is not diversity itself, but the treatment of it as merely a quota. Promote a diverse range of people to bring in a variety of thinking, skills and perspectives which make a business stronger.

4. Offer global opportunities

Think about promoting people to an above country role in order to keep them motivated. For example, an employee in Australia might be feeling unchallenged, but to step into an above-country role would traditionally mean them moving to another market such as Singapore. A company that can offer these opportunities without physical relocation is a rare find.

5. Have a clear and fair talent/career program

People are often told they are on talent programs, but it comes across as lip service with no real outcomes or clear set of options.

On the other hand, if companies can find a way – perhaps with the aid of technology – to match skills to potential roles, then they can offer secondments and training programs to support that journey. Not many companies get this right and can be a real differentiator.

6. Put in place a strong learning and development program

Some companies have excellent, technology-based global L&D programs which act like a mini university with online courses they can take, especially if they are looking to move into leadership. This is very attractive as employees feel their development is valued.

7. Use mentorships and coaching

Mentorship program is a proven method of helping up-and-coming staff feel motivated and valued. For senior leaders, meanwhile, it’s valuable to invest in executive coaching. Some senior leaders feel that once they reach senior and executive positions they are left to their own devices, and this is when they feel they need most support. It is lonely at the top after all (read more about this here).

8. Ensure strong communications

Internal communication is key as it helps people feel part of the company’s purpose and to understand what is happening across the business, rather than hearing it on LinkedIn.

9. Build a positive company culture

Salary packages are a hygiene factor. Attracting the best therefore requires a company to be competitive and fair. It is the culture (and sub-cultures) and living up to stated purpose that is important.

10. Beware bureaucracy and red tape

People do get frustrated with too many layers of approval and taking too much time to get an agreement on something.

11. Avoid unnecessary meetings and mandates

A lot of companies fall into the trap of having too many meetings for no real reason. People want agile organisations that focus more on outcomes than meetings with no real purpose. The same goes for unproductive office time, as many organisations start to mandate three days in the office. The “mandate” is a frustration for people as it is forced, not a choice. What people want is collaboration and in-person face time for a few hours a day but not the traditional 9-5 concept. 

In this market, know employees can always find other jobs that pay as well if not better. Therefore, making sure to meet both career and personal needs is the only way to make them stay.

Hunton Executive can support your organisation through effective retention strategies and talent development frameworks.

Contact us to learn more about how we can specifically help your organisation. 


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