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How to identify the best performers and retain workers in the digital age.

With the movement toward a more flexible work environment and people wanting to work from home (or anywhere), one of the major challenges organisations face is retaining their best workers, but before they can do so they must first of all, identify them. Employee retention strategies, how to identify and keep your best employees are the focus of this article.

The pandemic has forever changed our working lives. You may no longer be working with the same colleagues as you did before the pandemic; we all change, and therefore so does the organisation. It is difficult to predict what to expect once normality returns, but we know one thing for certain: technology is here to stay, and we need to learn to make the most of it.

Before thinking of talent retention, start with hiring wisely.

As a first step, ensure you have a strong recruitment process in place that will attract the right candidates – those who see your organisation as a long-term career opportunity and not just another temporary job or stepping stone. 

You should create clear goals and expectations for your employees so they know what they are working toward and how their performance will be measured. It is also important to establish an open dialogue with them where they can share any concerns or feedback they have with you, including their preferred career pathway.

Looking inside your company is an excellent recruitment strategy, you might be pleasantly surprised by the talent that your company already has. Based on a 2012 study by Wharton University, external hires cost 18 to 20% more than internal promotions, they are 61% more likely to get sacked, and it can be up to two years before they perform to your expectations.

Be able to recognise your exceptional people.

In a world where the vast majority of companies have access to the same tools, the factor that makes the difference and makes a company more profitable is its people. In hot markets, losing outstanding talent is not only an undesirable situation but can result in substantial losses to the organisation, a risk that no one wants to take.  

According to Martin G. More (author of the book The No bullsh!t Leadership), a good talent retention strategy as a leader, is to have the ability to identify exceptional individuals.

“Exceptional means that they produce exceptional results, create innovation opportunities and lead others to do better, therefore deliver a multiplying effect”

You have to be very cautious and know how to identify the people you need to keep in the organisation. One way to do this is by analysing the impact of that person’s role and performance on the organisation’s results.

Recognising your indispensable talents allows you to be proactive and offer them incentives before the competition does and is a key component of your employee retention plan.

Keep in mind that people have changed their priorities, respect their boundaries.

Before the pandemic, many people rarely spent time with their families, learning new skills, or invested time in themselves. We were simply too busy to pay attention to any ordinary but not necessarily less important daily things. However, the pandemic showed us that balancing having a life and getting things done is possible. As a manager, you need to respect people’s time and don’t make assumptions about their availability and that they should wait for you 24/7. Think about the possibility of giving more “flexible work” conditions. 

People don’t quit because of their boss or money, it’s about the work they do.

You may have heard the phrase “people quit their job because of their boss” or “money is the only reason people do things”, and while sometimes it may be true, a recent Harvard Business Review article titled “Why people really quit their job” argues that when a company wanted to keep people and they left anyway, it was because they didn’t like the work they were doing, their strengths were underused or they weren’t growing in their careers.

Instead of risking losing valuable employees, act proactively. If it is within your means, offer them a salary increase without them asking for it. After all, losing them can be much more expensive. Don’t fail to implement an employee retention strategy.

If you are an organisation even with reduced financial capacity, you can offer your employees flexible work, constant recognition, or an additional incentive based on results, but most importantly, offer a work environment where they can develop and do it with autonomy. People who need permanent control are people you don’t need on your team – Don’t keep a dog and bark yourself.

Take aways

In summary, the strategy that will allow you to keep your best employees is to identify them by the contribution they make to the organisation and give them enough reasons to stay with you, despite receiving other offers, because if there is one thing you can be sure of, it is that exceptional people are never short of new opportunities.

Not all organisations had the same fast and efficient technological adaptation during the pandemic. Some companies lost focus, and instead of concentrating on achieving the objectives, many managers flooded their team with tasks whose main objective was to exercise control. Long hours of unproductive Zoom meetings or constant reporting to justify the hours.

It is clear that the new work model is largely focused on results, and as managers, we must develop a strategy to ensure long-term employee retention before it is too late.

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