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7 ways to retain top talent

Tom Norris
It takes a lot of hard work and determination to create a top-notch team, but the hard work doesn’t stop once that team is in place. The next challenge is to ensure that talent stays together for as long as possible. Losing just one of your best employees not only means lost expertise, it also carries a hefty cost to replace that individual. According to research conducted by Oxford Economics and income protection providers Unum, the average cost of replacing a staff member is £30,614 (£5,433 for logistics, and £25,182 for the 28 weeks it takes a new recruit to reach full productivity). This is a cost any business can do without.

So what does it take to keep your best employees on the team? A bigger pay cheque? Greater flexibility? More holidays? These might have contributed to why a top candidate took the role in the first place, but they are not enough to keep that person in the job for the long term.

Here are seven simple ways you can ensure your business keeps hold of its top talent for longer.

1. Give credit where credit’s due

Recognising the achievements of staff has been proven to reduce staff turnover and boost employee morale. However, the majority of companies do not offer employee recognition training for managers. Be sure to show your appreciation for employees on a regular basis – an annual performance review is not enough. The more your employees feel valued, the better work they will produce.

2. Offer great training

Your most skilled employees are so for a reason – they have worked hard to hone their talents. So it’s a fairly safe bet that they will want to continue developing their career and pass that knowledge on. Be sure to assess growth opportunities among current employees, and offer a robust training programme for new recruits. Whether it’s in-house training courses, online webinars or mentoring schemes, there are many ways all employees can learn more, help one another and offer even greater value to the business.

3. Show clear progression routes

If the main reason you lose top talent is because you were unable to offer them a career path, then that needs to change. When someone has worked hard to get where they are, the last thing they want is to feel stuck in the same role forever more. Your most talented employees are bound to be ambitious and are likely to have big career goals. All you need to do is make sure you help them see a future career path in your company.

4. Are you managing OK?

Be sure that your top employees understand what is expected of them, but recognise that micromanagement might not yield the best results. You may find that your top employees work extremely well with minimal supervision, so why do anything to change that? If your top talent shows signs of wanting more autonomy over their workload, take a step back. There’s a difference between offering support when it’s needed and interfering when a project is running just fine as it is.

5. Offer rewards

Why just say ‘thank you’ when you can show someone how much you value their contribution? Small rewards can go a long way. Retail vouchers, cinema tickets or membership at a local gym are all examples and ways to give a quick pat on the back for a job well done. Or you might choose to reward the whole team (with a 3 course meal at a local restaurant or a team activity day out of the office).

6. Always listen to feedback

Working as a manager, it’s not always easy to identify the main bugbears among staff. So, if one of your top employees approaches you with some feedback (whether positive or negative), be sure to listen to what they say. Take on board any concerns they might have and ask them for their suggestions of improvement. By working together you are more likely to reach a workable solution.

7. Get it right from the start

Of course, an effective recruitment process is at the heart of finding that top talent in the first place. If you don’t hire the right candidate for a role in the first place, that candidate is less likely to stick around for the long haul. A combination of skilful hiring, recognition, training and honesty will lead to greater staff retention and more loyal employees.

Read our related blog: Essential leadership skills for IT personnel
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