While the decision to stay or go is often tied to economic conditions, there are other ways savvy businesses can retain staff and increase the overall sense of team satisfaction. As Bansrii Shah, a senior business manager at Robert Half, explains: “People want to feel they are being fairly compensated and believe that strong performance should be rewarded with a pay rise or bonus,” she says. “So, yes, money is important, but it’s not the only important thing.”
What else is important? Shah and her colleague, Associate Director Matthew Taylor, nominate three key areas – career planning and progression; giving employees a sense of purpose; and flexibility and wellbeing initiatives.
Career planning and progression
“Lots of companies talk a big game when it comes to staff development,” says Taylor, “but few deliver.”
“You should have a development plan in place for everyone,” adds Shah, “from your most junior employee up to the CEO.
“Managers should be going to their staff regularly and saying, ‘These are the projects that are coming up. Do you want to be involved in them? If so, what training and support do you need beforehand?’”
People complain about Gen Y job-hopping, but part of the reason they do that, according to Taylor, is to get wider experience. “Employers need to do a better job in allowing younger employees to get that diverse experience within one organisation. Also, they need to make it clear there’s an attractive career path if they hang around.
“I think a big one we’re seeing more of now is goal setting in line with career development plans, so make sure you’re having regular catch-ups with your staff to talk about career plans and how they can align with the business.”
A sense of purpose
The idea that organisational success is driven by competitive salaries and perks alone is antiquated – success is also influenced by a company’s ability to create a business-wide sense of purpose. Employees need to feel they’re doing meaningful work, and that they are people rather than numbers.
“Igniting passion begins with clear communication and helping employees of all levels see the bigger organisational picture,” explains Shah. “This may include a quarterly video presentation from the CEO, or active social media participation from key leaders in the business.
“Branching into web video is an easy and effective way to educate and engage staff. Speaking points can include quarterly results, as well as other topics of interest, taking an educational point of view while maintaining a down-to-earth yet professional tone.”
Moving down the organisational chart, Shah believes management at all levels can help their teams feel valued. They can communicate how employees’ work is contributing to the company’s strategy and business plan, helping to develop a greater sense of ownership and boost performance.
“Give your employees the opportunity to see what others are doing via internal networks including social groups, corporate citizen groups, real-time information or updates from the technology department on innovations or upgrades and so on, and have these groups present to the company face-to-face or via email, social media or web video,” Shah says.
“Something as simple as a ‘Friday Feelgood’ email with photos from the team members celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, worthy news and a ‘spotlight’ on an employee for that week is very well received.”
Flexibility and wellbeing initiatives
As the nine-to-five culture gradually falls by the wayside, Taylor notes workers are increasingly seeking workplace flexibility.
“Most employers are making efforts in this area, but employee expectations have risen. It’s no longer enough to just allow staff an early mark to go to the dentist, or simply put out a bowl of fruit in the staffroom,” he says.
“The big one is creating employee-friendly work environments and flexible work environments, so allowing staff to work remotely or offering more flexible start and finish times. These days [employees are looking to] create a healthy work/life balance.
“Increasingly, staff are also expecting that they’ll be able to have a large say in the hours they work and that their employer will be providing wellbeing perks, such as fitness boot camps and allied health consultation, for example.”
The opportunity to improve their physical and mental wellbeing – while at work – is now a major drawcard for employees.
“There’s gym memberships, boot camps, team running groups, and building or bonding activities,” says Taylor. “This has the knock-on effect of being able to create team unity and help [employers and employees] bond. It’s the old adage – healthy mind, healthy body, more productivity.”