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Employee Retention: A Challenge for Companies

In recent times, it has been realized that more often than not, it is no longer surprising to call a client to finish up a business transaction only for a colleague in the office to tell you “he is no longer working here.” Employers in Ghana and indeed, globally are realizing that despite very interesting remuneration packages and beautiful work conditions, employees do not stay employed in one organization for long. In contemporary times, employment relationships have evolved from being hinged on loyalty to what we call the new “21st century employment relationship”. With the influx of the millennial generation, one can expect that, attrition rates may even go up. The reason being that, millennials do not mind quitting a lucrative job to experiment a social enterprise idea. They are eager to try out new ideas and ventures, even when it is obvious to them, those ideas wouldn’t work. So they may leave not necessarily because the pay cheque is not good; but to pursue other passions.


Low turnover, however, may not always be a good thing. It could point to employees who are not ambitious, perhaps because of lack of confidence in their abilities, level of education, or an unwillingness to go through the trouble of proving themselves elsewhere. It is important then to decide on particular people (those called “high flyers”) who are considered the most suitable where attitude and synergy with the values and vision of the company are concerned and make it worth their while to stay. The challenge with high flyers is that, owing to their result-oriented nature and dutiful approach to work, they are also often the delight of other firms, most notably competing firms. For a majority of high flyers, it comes down to one of these four reasons, why they may choose to move on or stay: rewards, leadership opportunities, career change or personal values. It is either they are prized away by a comparatively better reward package or there is an opportunity to step into managerial role in the awaiting offer, which they are not assured of in their current job. In other instances, a decision to move away from say marketing to human resources may form the basis of a job switch or a situation where the individual’s values sharply contradict the company’s.


“Employee Turnover” Strategy

To be able to retain talented employees involves financial, as well as non financial initiatives. Indeed, years of research into motivational theories indicate that, people are motivated more by psycho-emotional factors such as: accomplishment, respect, power, values, and so on than by money. A retention strategy that may work for a majority of employees in an organisation might not necessarily work in the same organisation for some other category of employees. For example, someone may be considering starting a company even though the person may be currently an employee. A reason like this goes far beyond a retention strategy and is based on the ambitions of the individual. Nonetheless, according to empirical study, the following are a few tried and tested suggestions on how to keep a winning team together;


Clarity of Job Definition

When new recruits are accepted into the organisation, the intricacies of their job description must be verbally explained to them in an orientation programme that includes the interface between their role and other members of the team.


Job Prospects and Training

Personal development is a need to an employee. Any staff will look for prospects in the organisation he/she is working. Finding these will be a basis for his or her continuous stay in the organisation. Also, a learning environment is not only important for retaining employees; it is critical for attracting talent. One research revealed that, the reason behind the inefficacy of most learning and development interventions is that, companies apply a one size-fit-all approach to sharpening the competencies of their employees. While some persons are audio learners and will appreciate learning methodologies that involve: instructor-led trainings, audio presentations, and so on. There are also some that are mainly visual learners and understand better, when the interface is visual. Additionally, trainers ought to incorporate the principles of adult learning in their learning deliveries. Adults learn through experience and often will appreciate an interactive discourse other than a lecture. To achieve an effective learning and development program, all these diverse factors ought to be considered.


Implement a Competitive Compensation Package

Paying a competitive salary “just keeps you in the talent game, it does not win the game.” A total reward system should include a competitive pay, staff benefits, effective measures for work life balance, performance recognition, opportunities for career growth, etc. Companies should make available industry-specific salary surveys in order to give employees a realistic basis for comparison.


Employee Involvement

Involving employees in organisational policy-making will enhance employee motivation and commitment. There is nothing so enriching as your superiors believing in you. But often than not, managers only pay lip service to this important commitment. They prefer employees that don’t challenge them to employees that do. Often, matters of ego and careless application of power compel managers to kill the drive and initiative of high potential employees. Whilst it is important to caution employees on best approaches to presenting differing opinions to their managers, they (managers) must in turn show maturity in tactfully managing such employees and still, unearthing the best in them. In worst cases, they threaten them with terminations and dismissals, all of which lay firm grounds for disengagement.


Decentralising the ‘power house’

Decentralise the system of operation in order to facilitate the response time to issues. Next-generation employees do not want to wait 20 years before they get a piece of the decision making. They want to be partners in the enterprise now.


Get involved in re-recruiting employees

In the same way, new employees are encouraged to come on board and the companies are presented to them as the right place to be, we should engage our high flyers in continuous discussions to find out their dreams and involve them constantly in such a way that their place of work continues to be attractive to them.


These notwithstanding, we must first of all understand the people we work with, their needs, expectations and ambition. Only then can we offer a deliberate strategy to ensure that a winning team is put together for the maximum length of time feasible with the acceptance that no matter what you do, no matter how well employees are handled, they will leave at some point or the other. There is, however, some separation that could be controlled or prevented, if handled with precision and with a plan that is kept varied.


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