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Saturday, December 9, 2023

How to retain your employees?

APEC (Association for the Employment of Executives) looked at the practices of companies facing this problem, in times of tension on recruitment. It turns out that most companies aren’t doing much with a difference for large companies, where 57% say they are concerned (and 53% are taking action).

Few companies have diagnostic tools for the causes of departure and clear their conscience: lifestyle choices, moves, or the desire for a salary jump or retraining. Exit interviews, which take place in 83% of large companies, do not give rise to any consolidation between the players who could build an effective loyalty policy.

Such a policy must be targeted, says APEC, according to profiles. There are the rare profiles : employees who exercise a position under recruitment pressure. There are the key profiles, employees who have the skills to run the company or who master its tools in such a way that their departure creates a problem. Finally, there is talents on which companies wish to bet in the long term.

For APEC, there are 4 types of actors who must act together: the general management which provides the strategy and the values ​​in which the employee will recognize themselves. There are Human Resources (HR) which have the tools to measure the professional journey (the life cycle) of the employee and their employee experience (as we talk about customer experience).

Above all, there are the managers on the front line, responsible for the good atmosphere, balance, professional development and who can detect a lot (and quickly) in their colleagues (frustration, desire for development, etc.) and, finally , staff representatives who can raise shared reasons for dissatisfaction. For APEC, these 4 actors do not coordinate enough.

Key moments of loyalty

Loyalty is exercised at key or strong moments in the employee-company relationship, says APEC: evaluations or raises, reorganizations, departures of colleagues or hierarchical superiors, for example the direct boss who may have recruited the employee . External, family events also have their impact (birth, separation, bereavement) of questioning oneself. Clinging to the four generations who live together in our companies (Baby Boomers, Generations X, Y and Z) to offer them appropriate loyalty programs would be a mistake. It is true, each generation will have a more or less marked interest in certain aspects and not others, but also within each category itself, so that a categorization, as is so often put forward, does not doesn’t make any more sense.

Levers for loyalty

For APEC, there are levers to activate.

There is remuneration: this is the most obvious. We can resort to preventive increases, outside of the usual periods. There is also increased remuneration, says APEC, which strengthens purchasing power, such as profit-sharing, shareholdings, bonuses, benefits in kind, restaurant vouchers. But what APEC does not say is that remuneration is not a “hygiene factor” once a correct level has been reached: retaining an employee solely through salary incentives will no longer work.

Another lever, says APEC: professional development by offering employees the opportunity to plan for the medium or long term (training giving access to a new professional path, etc.).

A classic cause of departure is the feeling of not learning or no longer evolving in the company. We also need, says APEC, visible paths where we know where it leads when we start and… no more job titles. The difficulty, which APEC does not mention, is the ability of companies to offer predictable paths, because very often the environment does not allow precise visibility for the duration necessary for a development path.

More practical is the renewal of missions: the diversity of what we do, the meaning of the missions entrusted to executives. We can even review the scope of certain functions to better infuse them with diversity, in short, de-Taylorize by offering employees the opportunity to have an impact on a larger part of the value chain.

Workload comes into play as a fourth factor: it is the right balance to achieve between it and life balance. Obviously teleworking is the area in which we can easily invest. We can also grant certain types of emergency leave (sick child leave, extended maternity or paternity leave, etc.), recovery schemes in the event of working evenings and weekends, guarantee a right to disconnect, etc. But the better is the enemy of good: companies that had introduced a strict disconnection time saw the stress level of their employees increase, because the freedom they had to carry out their work had significantly decreased.

The good atmosphere and collaborative work are the 5th axis: the feeling of belonging to a community can be built outside of work too: breakfasts with management (or not), afterworks, teambuilding, etc.

Above all, it is important to allow a lot of autonomy in the work. This is management through trust, which is highly appreciated: management which is interested in the results obtained, and not in the method or the time spent to achieve them.

Participating in company decisions is a powerful lever. Employees are convinced that their opinion counts. This can happen at several levels: consulting employees on strategies, asking their opinion on product launches, how they would see the production process.

Showing recognition is essential and in a qualitative manner through congratulations, highlights, communications to customers or internally. Recognition is knowing how to detect the singularity in what the employee has accomplished, understanding where they have gone the extra mile and making them understand that they are appreciated.

Work tools are also important, via well-appointed premises, pleasant work spaces, especially since when teleworking, we no longer go to the office as often. It must be a renewed experience that makes you want to come back. This also includes dining areas, bicycle parking, and sports halls.

APEC suffers from two oversights:

  • Corporate culture: a set of common behaviors and beliefs, where employees recognize themselves as part of a homogeneous and partly predictable group. It must be embodied by management and allows employees to see it as an echo of their own priorities.
  • The search for meaning: both to recruit and to retain their staff, companies must allow them to participate in the achievement of something “bigger”, which goes beyond personal development or the search for profit. The commercial brand policy becomes a powerful lever for attracting and retaining staff, since it projects a set of characteristics to which the employee wants (or not) to adhere.


To know more

Retaining executives: Strategies still underdeveloped while levers exist, October 2023, APEC