5 avoidable ways we lose top talent

Oliver · 24 Oct

Retention managers are up against it. Staying on the right side of economic shifts and technological advancements while meeting employee expectations is a feat that requires proactivity and foresight.

But to prevent attrition, you must first understand why it happens.

We recently ran a survey of 2000 UK-based employees and caught up with two talent experts, Julia Murrell, Director of People and Development, Firmdale Hotels and Andy Partridge, Co-Founder, Enviable Workplace  to explore employee pain points and retention strategies.

The questions examined what influences employees to fire up their Guardian job alerts and look for work elsewhere – and what HR managers can do to stop this from happening.

Here's what's putting your top talent at risk.

1. Lack of career development opportunities

Strong salaries and benefits packages will only go so far in your bid for retention. Talented employees tend to be the most ambitious, and will want to see opportunities for development and career progression within their role.

32% of employees resent the lack of career development opportunities on offer

A clear and defined career path is a vital component in your EVP, and something that needs to be communicated and nurtured consistently. Where possible, each employee should have an individual journey mapped out based on conversations with their line managers.

2. Poor leadership

Over half of the people who keep our businesses ticking over have fundamental issues with those in charge. The employee-manager relationship will always be prone to stresses and strains, but the way we address these problems needs adapting. As a starting point, leadership should be present and consistent at every level of the organisation.

Just 48% of employees believe their management teams contribute towards a positive environment

If your company hasn’t undergone some form of management training, our study suggests it might be time to make the first move. In addition, frequent feedback loops through surveys and informal catch-up conversations are good ways to uncover what’s causing latent frustrations.

3. Lack of company vision

The 21st century has seen a growing trend in people wanting to work for organisations with purpose and value. This is particularly true among the younger generations who, by and large, want to be part of cultures that work incrementally towards achieving something of societally value. Goal alignment of this kind strengthens leadership and creates flexibility; with a mobilised team working towards shared objectives, businesses can execute strategy faster and with more agility.

59% of UK employees don’t feel aligned with their organisations’ goals

This means encouraging your workforce to think beyond their personal and team objectives, towards a wider company movement. Use internal channels to promote the brand’s progress towards achieving its goals to give direction and focus.

4. Lack of recognition

Indiscriminate pay increases are rarely economically viable – and would do little to increase long term retention anyway. Almost two-thirds of employees agreed that regular personalised benefits – such as cost-saving perks, free meals, and gym memberships – would be appreciated as recognition for their loyalty and personal investment.

66% of employees believe rewards would increase loyalty

The key is to align any reward programmes with your organisation’s goals, that could mean improving skills or increasing retention. The most successful programmes contain a blend of instant recognition, leadership support, and personalisation.

5. Lack of communication

A lack of organisational communication and transparency frustrates employees even more than poor leadership. If an organisation fails to articulate its requirements on both an individual an a collective level, employees will lack direction and drive.

35% of employees identify a lack of communication as their biggest frustration at work

The most practical solution to work-related frustrations is open dialogue; to candidly discuss issues as they arise. Regardless of the industry they’re in, employers need to engage with their people. Great company cultures are the product of leaders with emotional intelligence, stakeholder experience, and employee engagement. Employers need to make stronger emotional connections with all of their people, and bring purpose and value to work.

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