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4 Tips to Retain Top Talent

Posted by Paul Huffman on May 4, 2021

Once you’ve hired top talent, it’s a constant battle to retain them. Don’t be fooled into complacency by thinking that your company’s mandate is enough to keep them!

Remember, hiring is just the first step. It’s a competitive market out there and top talent will constantly be assessing their options to see if something better is available.

Here are a few suggestions that companies should consider implementing if they want to win the talent war.

Make your onboarding experience delightful

Think of recruitment as only the first phase of your relationship with a future employee. Retention should be an ongoing campaign once talent is hired, and it all starts with the onboarding process.

Employees remember their onboarding experiences forever. But did you know that the quality of your onboarding and hiring processes actually has a demonstrable effect on your retention rate? A recent study from the SHRM Foundation found that “seventy percent of workers say they are more likely to stay at their new company for three years or more if they experienced a favorable application process.” A good onboarding process is seamless, clear, personalized, and branded.

Make a good first impression and it will pay you back tenfold by helping you retain top talent.

Offer professional development and cutting-edge technology

Almost a third of employee turnover is related to “unsupportive management and a lack of development opportunities,” reported the Work Institute in 2018. Without access to cutting-edge tools, many employees grow to feel resentful of management for inhibiting their ability to complete their work to the best standard. Of course, there are many reasons why a company chooses not to provide these tools. Not all companies need the newest tools in order to deliver top-notch work. But without being savvy to those strategic decisions, employees may be jealous of other companies that use the most cutting-edge technology. Clear communication is one way to deal with this challenge.

There’s another way to overcome employee jealousy when other companies use fancy new tools. Simply offer employees the opportunity to play with new technology. A hands-on workshop or factory field-trip is a great way to facilitate professional development. Many employees who work at companies without professional development funds report feeling isolated and out of touch with the industry.

Don’t let your top talent feel they’ve been abandoned after hiring them! Offer them opportunities to grow and stay in touch with their industry. It will make them better employees and can increase their loyalty to your company.

Show a willingness to be flexible

The five-day, 9-to-5 workweek is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Today’s employees of all genders are greatly concerned about work-life balance. If an employer stands in the way of a child’s soccer game, top talent is likely to seek out a more supportive work environment.

If you’ve hired a great candidate and if you trust your managers, then you shouldn’t worry about ruling with an iron fist. People respond to being trusted. As long as objectives are aligned and milestones are met, it’s okay to relax expectations around an employee’s working hours. Top talent expects that companies will see them as complex human beings.

Companies would do well to remember that when an employee requests time off to care for a sick child or requests an occasional mental health day, these are actually signs that you have hired a great person, not a bad one.

Facilitate open communication between managers and employees

Set the expectation that if any employee is dissatisfied with their work experience, they can speak openly with their manager. An open-door policy can increase retention. Most often, employees will bring up problems that are either relatively easy to address or are already on the radar of leadership. For instance, what if a staff member doesn’t feel that their title accurately encapsulates their responsibilities? Rather than a situation where the employee feels resentful, provide them with an avenue to safely express their grievances.

A simple fix like a title change may be enough to help retain top talent and give them confidence that they can grow their career with your company, but only if employees feel comfortable speaking openly with their managers. Managers play a hidden role in retaining top talent, so make sure your company hires managers who are active listeners. Employees often seek new jobs because they don’t feel heard or respected at work. Even if the company isn’t capable of solving the problem immediately, managers can often allay the employee’s concerns by listening carefully and responding thoughtfully.

From a cost-benefit perspective, it is much cheaper to make changes to keep an existing employee than undergo a costly search process for a replacement.

Don’t let your fear of losing great employees translate into a fearful work culture. Top talent responds to transparency, enthusiasm, and a supportive work environment. By implementing these suggestions, your company can ensure that all the time and energy you put into recruitment won’t be wasted.


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