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The revolving door: 10 tips for retention

Updated: 01 Mar 2014
Employers need to focus on retention in response to the rising number of permanently employed staff entering Hong Kong’s jobs market, says recruiting experts Hays.
“Asia’s resilience is driving the local jobs market forward and unhappy staff are exploring their options,” says Marc Burrage, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong.
“This means it’s critical for employers to focus on their retention strategies or risk losing staff to an improving jobs market. But in the past the focus has been on attraction in response to skills shortages. As a result, employers are very good at developing new and innovative attraction strategies.
“They now need to become equally good at retaining staff in order to reverse rising turnover rates. It is important to remember that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to retention will not work for all employees. For example, some employers still believe that salary is an overall umbrella fix for retention; it’s not.”
According to Hays, there are simple steps you can take to start improving your retention efforts today:
1.     Staff engagement
Engagement refers to the extent to which employers understand, communicate and build a good relationship with their employees. Ask for your employees’ opinions on key engagement factors such as career progression and performance feedback through employee opinion surveys, online forums or regular performance reviews.
Critically, do not make assumptions about an employee’s career path or workplace needs based upon their gender, family responsibilities or age. Open, honest and transparent communication with each employee about their own career goals will instead give you an accurate picture.
2.     Performance management
Performance management is central to retention and can be as simple - but essential - as a robust, regular appraisal system that is user friendly and which managers are committed to.  Formal performance feedback is also an excellent opportunity to ensure talent is engaged.
3.     Career Development
Lack of career progression is often the primary reason that candidates look for a new job, so don’t let them become stale or bored. Obviously every organisation has different parameters within which they must work, but career development does not necessarily mean promotion, although it certainly can. Can you instead offer additional responsibility, or the opportunity to supervise other employees? Could an employee coach and train others, manage projects or chair meetings?
  1. Women in senior management
Career development should extend to women in senior management to ensure a diverse workforce. A program to assist women into senior management can include the establishment of steering groups and active coaching or networking programs to enable female employees to discuss ideas, plan their career path, access career development and settle into new roles. Another common practice is to ensure that the number of women in senior management reflects the number of women employed overall. That’s because young women look for female role models in senior positions.
5.     Training & development
Training and development doesn’t necessarily mean formal courses, although it can. One-on-one training and taking on additional duties can be just as effective. Investing in your employees’ skills development allows them to be the best they can be, which has obvious rewards for both them and you.
6.     Mentorships
Training doesn’t always have to be in the classroom. Mentorships are a useful retention tool and can also be used to retain and pass on corporate insight to other employees. 
7.     Your managers
You should also look at the quality of your managers. Front line managers are the key to retention. Remember, people join companies and leave people. Your managers are at the coal face. How good are they at motivating and inspiring their team members? Managing performance, good and bad? Setting useful goals? Providing useful performance feedback?  What does your organisation do to develop its managers?
8.     Salaries and rewards
The annual Hays Salary Guide enables you to benchmark your salaries and ensure they are in line with current market rates. Reward and recognition programs can also be used as part of a successful retention program, as long as there is a fair and equal system of processes for rewards.
9.     The case for flexible working
There are many people who require flexible working options to remain in employment, such as those with responsibilities caring for young children or elderly relatives. Flexibility also demonstrates to employees that they are valued. Individual job functions of course need to be considered, and certain duties may naturally preclude the ability to offer certain options. For example, a customer-facing role may not be suitable to telecommuting, but perhaps you could consider job share or flexible working hours so the employee starts two hours later?
10. If they do go
Despite your best efforts, some staff may still go. An employment brand is affected as much by the people who leave as the people who are still employed. Making leaving a positive experience can be a challenge but it is very powerful for leavers to speak highly of an organisation even though they no longer work there. Even an exit interview can have a positive impact.

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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