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The 5 best practices to retaining top talent

Niteske Marshall

In the quest to become a stable, high-performance organisation that is simultaneously seen as a great place to work, it can seem like a daunting task to understand the nuts and bolts of successful employee retention. After all, what works for one employee, doesn’t work for another. So what’s the secret?

Global best practice. These are the measures that in their varying guises have been found to be at the heart of every successful organisation. These measures don’t only make for dedicated high-calibre staff who are in it for the long haul, but for excellent bottom line results too.

Adopt these best practices and see your staff retention soar:

1.    Provide the right equipment and employee support: You’ll be amazed at how many times new recruits enter an organisation only to find the basic equipment (IT programmes, computers and even workstations) or support structures they need are not available. This is not limited to junior staff: Network Recruitment’s data shows 35% of failed placements across the board are as a result of inadequate basic employee support. Whether you’re hiring new staff or reassigning existing employees, ensure all equipment and support boxes are ticked before the person takes up their new role.

2.    Prioritise employee engagement: The way staff experience the workplace determines their level of engagement with their colleagues and the company as a whole, which has a direct influence on their desire to stay in the organisation. Highly engaged employees are happier, and as a result are more efficient, goal oriented and success driven. But don’t make it a top-down process. Ask staff what they want to see in the company to improve engagement and their overall workplace experience.

3.    Live your company values: Corporate values are not some fluffy internal marketing or HR exercise, they’re a fundamental set of principles that guide all behaviours and all decisions. They help every employee (not just new staff, and including management) know what is expected of them. Clarifying your core values and reinforcing them at every level is essential for the health and sustainability of your organisation. Clearly articulated core values also help attract and retain the right type of future employees. Remember, only a small percentage of placements fail as a result of competence issues. Most new appointments don’t work out because of a values mismatch between the company and new hire.

4.    Empower managers to connect the company’s and employees’ values: In living the company’s values, managers should be encouraged to identify direct links between the organisation’s values and purpose, and the personal values and purpose of the individuals on their team. When the purpose and mission of the company is articulated in an authentic way, it makes it easy for staff to see the importance of their work contributions to the bigger picture. Nurturing self-value and meaning in employees represents the highest level of staff wellbeing.  

5.    Put work-life balance first: As the lines between work and life become increasingly blurred, work environments are having to become more flexible, more engaging and more accepting of individual circumstances. Employees are increasingly concerned about issues affecting their work-life balance, such as commuting to work outside of peak hours to avoid traffic, working from home, working flexitime and job-sharing. If you want to enhance your reputation as a caring and responsible employer, and attract and retain the best talent, you need to create a culture that promotes a healthy balance. Managing employees holistically isn’t only vital for their personal wellbeing, but for the sustainable commercial success of the business as well.

Incidentally, these are also among the practices that are demanded of South Africa’s top employers – an increasingly important status that firms strive for in positioning themselves on the frontline in the battle for top talent.

According to the Top Employers Institute, those companies that establish excellent employee conditions; that nurture and develop talent throughout all levels of the organisation; and that strive to continuously optimise employment practices are the ones most worthy of this prestigious title that puts employees first.

Niteske Marshall is MD of Network Recruitment – a recruitment solutions provider in the local IT, finance and engineering sectors.