How to… hang onto top talent

05 January 2016
How to… hang onto top talent

Sally Brand explains

When you think about it, it's not rocket science: it's people who make or break a business. Yet, in most companies, little focus is placed on how employees play a vital role in business success, despite there being heaps of research showing that the companies whose employees say they are great places to work are also the most commercially successful.

For example, according to management consultancy Hay Group:

Companies that have a high employee engagement score have revenue levels on average 4.5 times higher than those with the lowest scores.

Companies that have high levels of both employee engagement and employee enablement are 50% more likely to exceed performance targets.

Even though the link between employee engagement and business performance has been clearly demonstrated time and time again, few employers put enough emphasis on, and investment in, their approaches to talent retention.

So what can be done to keep your people happy? Findings from the previous Best Places to Work in Hospitality survey found that salary was by no means the only key motivator. Employers also need to focus on clear communication, good work-life balance, a positive working environment and team respect - all critical elements in keeping staff happy.

Here are our three tips on how to incorporate these elements into your strategy for talent retention and keeping your people happy.

1. Give them a voice

Engaged employees - the ones who are most motivated, productive and thus profitable - want to be able to express their opinions and have them listened to. They want to be able to offer ideas that will help drive the business forward. It's therefore important that businesses make the effort to talk to their people and then act on the feedback and ideas given.

When it comes to retention, if people don't tell you what their challenges are, then you won't be able to fix any problems that do exist. Do you really know if your employees' needs are being met? Do they have the tools and opportunities available to communicate their thoughts, feelings and ideas?

If you don't know whether this is the case, then perhaps it's time to review your communications channels. Performance reviews, employee opinions surveys, and even one-to-one meetings are great ways to give your people a voice. A short survey can uncover ideas and feedback in a simple and anonymous manner and the information generated can be fed directly into your business strategy and make a real difference.

2. Provide opportunities to give something back

Helping others has always been seen as good for the soul. It's no less true when it happens in the workplace, with many employees valuing an opportunity to give back. Work-life balance is becoming more of a priority for employees, who are seeking out employers able to help them make a meaningful contribution. It's more about fulfilment, enriching lives, and developing skills and experience that will make their personal and work lives better.

If you're not sure where to start, ask your people what initiatives would mean the most to them, or simply give support to individuals and their own personal causes. You could sponsor someone who is doing a marathon, or even support them by starting a running club. The trick is not to do too much; otherwise an initiative can end up tailing off, which can lead to people becoming disengaged.

3. Hire better

Unless you recruit the right talent first time round, it's always going to be an uphill battle to engage and retain them. To overcome this, it's important that those doing the hiring know who you are as a business and what you stand for - your culture and values. This knowledge is your secret weapon for helping you find and select the perfect person for your organisation.

Assert your values in job adverts, on your website and in job interviews. Ask interviewees for examples of when they've lived by your values, and ask what their personal values are.

This approach needs to be applied for all roles, not just in head office. Most importantly, check how you feel about a candidate by always asking yourself: "If they accepted another job tomorrow, would we be devastated?" If the answer is yes, then you've probably found the right person.

The facts

Employers need to make engagement and retention a priority. The evidence is clear:

  • A 2015 Gallup global workplace study across 142 countries revealed that only 13% of the working population does much more than show up on time and meet minimum expectations for their jobs.
  • The UK Investors in People's (IIP) 2015 annual Jobs Exodus found that 65% of employees are not happy in their role - companies need to work harder at retaining their talent.
  • The Corporate Leadership Council research concluded that profits at engaged companies grow up to three times faster than at their competitors, and that highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave the organisation.

Sally Brand is business development director at Purple Cubed

Find out what makes your employees tick

Learn how to motivate and engage with your workforce by taking part in the Best Places to Work in Hospitality 2016 Awards.

Not only does the award set a business apart as an employer of choice, but each entrant is given a confidential staff survey, which can be used to inform people practices and improve business performance.

We'll highlight the top 30 operators to enter the awards, and the most enlightened - the very best of the best - will be in with a chance of winning the Best Employer Catey.

What's more, all of our Top 30 will benefit from a free place at The Caterer HR Forum 2016, where the full list of Best Places to Work in Hospitality 2016 will be revealed.

So if you want to know what drives your employees to perform, enter the awards now.

The deadline for completion of the employee survey is 19 February 2016.

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