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It has never been easier for talented employees to change jobs. Big salaries and benefits will no longer keep your key players on board. The highflyers of today want a position that offers challenging and stimulating work, the opportunity to learn and grow, and a great boss and great team members.

There are excellent reasons why you should go out of your way to retain good staff.

  • Talent is what separates you from your competitors. Technology is ubiquitous and getting cheaper and cheaper. There are many ways to raise capital. But a good team is difficult to replicate. 
  • There is a shortage of talent worldwide. Digital technology has made it possible for anyone to work from anywhere in the world.
  • It has never been easier for your employees to test their worth in the marketplace. Networked head-hunters go way beyond the usual online recruitment applications to get behind corporate firewalls and find the high performers.
  • Replacing a key team member can cost you dearly. There’s the opportunity cost of sales for foregone and stalled projects. It is estimated that it costs two to three times the annual salary to replace a top performer. 
  • The worst time to lose talent is when you are undergoing organisational change. An uncertain future and a dip in morale may be just what tips the scales with an employee considering a move.

So, what is going to keep your best people aligned and motivated and in your organisation?

Without exception, they are looking for:

  • Exciting, challenging work 
  • Career growth
  • Learning and personal development opportunities
  • Great people to work with
  • Fair pay and benefits and
  • A good boss whom they respect and from whom they can learn 

Here are some proven ways to go about keeping your top team members in the organisation.

  • Find out what each team member wants. Don’t treat them all in the same way. Understand their personal situation. A single person with no dependents has needs different from someone with a family and a housing bond. Bend the corporate policy manual.
  • Let your top employees know that you understand why they are valuable. Recognise them for their exceptional contribution.
  • Recruit the right person, even if it takes longer. Don’t be stampeded into filling a key vacancy. The cost of those few extra weeks will be offset by the savings you make with the right person.
  • Show them respect and show them that you trust them. Create a culture of inclusion. Don’t always be the boss issuing instructions and reprimands. Be human and approachable.
  •  Give them specific feedback. General comments of “well done!’ will not be as powerful as a precise conversation about the employee’s unique contribution.  
  • Discuss their future with them. They need to know what’s in it for them. Don’t make promises you cannot keep but spell out a career pathway and be clear about the standards that must be met.
  • Create a work environment where people are valued and where they enjoy doing what they do. Deploy your team to make the most of their skills. Stretch them but don’t destroy them
  • Information is powerful. Share freely, openly, and frequently. People love to be in the know. It helps them do their work better when they have the big picture.
  • Give team members the space to do their work. Don’t hover over them or micromanage them. Be clear about the outcomes you expect and trust them to do the right thing.
  • Respect people’s life outside work. Work is only a part of who they are. Give them the space for their important stuff and they will come through for you.

There is only one person who is accountable for retaining the talent in your team. And that is you. It’s a vital part of being a good leader. Look after the team and they will make you look good. Your success depends on it.

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Author James Forson

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