5 February 2015

It's Not All About Attracting The Right Talent, It's About Keeping Them Too!


Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell worked in Ciphr's marketing team from 2012-2020.


Recruitment and retention Talent management


Getting the right people in the right job is obviously a priority for brands but it’s not just getting talent to join your organisation. You need to know how to hold on to them and the reasons why they might leave.

In Tuesdays article I explained and illustrated what talent is looking for (and where it’s looking for it), but what about retaining the talent you’ve already employed?

Talent management and progression is a top concern for business leaders, both currently and in the future, yet so many employees leave a company for avoidable reasons.

Why do your employees leave?

There are many reasons why an employee seeks alternative employment, some are unavoidable but others can be prevented by amending HR strategies, listening and knowing the reasons behind such decisions.

The number of people thinking of changing jobs has risen over the past couple of years and employee commitment has dropped significantly, as illustrated below:

employee thinking of quitting chart This statistic shows the share of employees thinking about quitting their current job worldwide from 2012 to 2014, by region. During the survey in 2014, 43 percent of workers from the Asia Pacific region said they were thinking about leaving their current employer.

Global worker commitment This statistic shows the share of workers that were totally committed to their employer worldwide from 2010 to 2014, by region. During the survey, 34 percent of workers in the Americas reported that they were totally committed to their employers in 2014.

These trends could be attributed to a number of factors, including:

  • A greater number of employees feeling unhappy with their current employer
  • An increased employee confidence in the economy and a reduction in ‘staying safe’ with the current employer
  • More brands interacting with and attracting potential candidates, both passive and active
  • A greater acceptance that a career with one business is no longer the norm, it’s fully accepted that people will change employers often throughout their career

Unfortunately the high percentage of employees leave simply because they’re not happy with their current employer. The reasons behind this dissatisfaction are avoidable if efforts are made by brands to retain talent as part of their internal HR strategies.

Understanding why people look elsewhere for a job is the first step in reducing the reasons behind such a decision and improving employee satisfaction and happiness.
By implementing business processes and strategies that address these (and other) concerns you’ll not only reduce turnover and it’s associated costs, you’ll also increase employee morale, happiness, productivity and engagement.

job dissatisfaction reasons This statistic shows the leading causes of job dissatisfaction among workers worldwide as of September 2014. During the survey, 60 percent of the respondents named salary, benefits and other financial incentives as factor that might lead them to quit their job or change careers.

Lets take a look at each of the reasons given in more detail.

Salary/benefits/other financial incentives

This might seem an obvious reason for an employee to leave and in some cases there’s nothing you can do about it, but in many cases there is.
What’s important to remember is that this reasoning isn’t just “I want more money and that’s it”, salary is just one part of this employee concern.

Offering meaningful benefits that suit the company culture and employees who work for you is just as important as a good salary.
For example, if you employ a lot of designers then you may consider allowing them to work on their own projects for a percentage of their working week, like Google.
Allowing creative people to work freely, even for just a small portion of their time, is a great example of a benefit directly associated with the employee(s).

Another example is offering employees who don’t need to be in the office every day to be 100% effective the option of working from home. As well as the benefits this offers the employees, it’s also been reported that telecommuting can be a more productive way of working.

finders feeAs well as standard financial benefits employees could also be offered referral ‘finders fees’ as part of an employee advocacy scheme.

Word of mouth, both in person and online, is a powerful endorsement and any vacancy recommended by a family member or friend is often seriously considered, whether the person is actively looking for work or not.
By creating and offering such a scheme to employees your brand will start to build a culture where referral recruitment is embedded. This cuts the costs associated with more traditional recruitment methods such as job boards, print advertising or agencies.

Lastly and most obviously, employees should be rewarded for doing a good job. If someone deserves a pay rise and/or promotion then they should be treated fairly and shown that the business appreciates their efforts, otherwise where’s the motivation to continue to make the effort?

Opportunities for advancement

  • Do you hold regular reviews (performance and pay) with your employees?
  • Are your employees offered clarity as to how they can progress through the business?
  • Is feedback from your employees regarding the course of their career welcomed and encouraged?
  • Do you reward your top talent with promotions and pay rises?

career confusionNot knowing where their career is heading, feeling unrecognised and unappreciated and not having a say in your destiny are all factors that contribute to an unhappy and uncommitted employee.

By ignoring those people that make your business successful (and pay your wages as earning theirs) you’re effectively pushing them out of the door and into the offices of another brand, potentially a competitor.

Schedule regular appraisals and pay reviews where an open and frank discussion can take pace without fear of reprise. Listening to your employees will enable you to learn what it is that they want from a job, what motivates them and what might be bothering them in the office.

By taking the time to understand what makes your workforce tick you’ll be able to exploit their strengths and work to improve any weaknesses they may have.
This will not only benefit your business but also help employees to advance in their career and be successful in what they do professionally.

When employees have career clarity, confidence and feel in control, they’ll not be tempted to explore alternative employment.

Work-life balance

Possibly one of the most overused terms in the career space on the internet, ‘work life balance’ infers that ‘work’ and ‘life’ are completely separate entities. This is not the case, work is part of life and as such if your employees enjoy their time working for you then there’s no need to consciously try and keep work and personal lives exclusive.

Offering flexible working hours, the choice of telecommuting and empathy to employees personal responsibilities show that you’re not only an understanding employer (great for your employer brand) but it will also benefit your business by creating a happy, less stressed and productive company.

mobile technologyMobile technology and the increase in the SaaS solutions available means that the necessity for an employee to be in the office to work effectively is no longer the case.
A large percentage of the working population can be just as efficient at home or wherever it is they choose to set up their laptop or mobile device.

There’s even evidence to suggest that the ambient noise in such places as coffee shops increases productivity, consider this the next time the office is deathly quiet.
There are even apps dedicated to the ambient noise/productivity link such as Thunderspace and Coffeetivity which play ambient noise while you work.

When employees feel that their personal lives are under control and not controlled by their jobs then they’ll feel happier and less stressed. As a result they’ll be more content and less tempted to look elsewhere.

Staff morale

I’ve written a number of articles previously on improving the working environment for employees. From company culture to the benefits of plants in the office there’s countless ways to make your employees happier during their working hours.

Rather than summarising different strategies, below is a selection of detailed articles explaining ways in which employee morale can be improved:

Current management

Sometimes an employees main reason for seeking alternative employment is due to the relationship they have (or don’t have) with their manager.

leadership trainingProper management/leadership training is important as part of a new manager’s induction into the role. Often people are promoted to lead a team without any previous experience. This may seem like the best way to reward an employee who’s worked towards the position, but in reality can cause more harm than good without proper forethought.

If managers aren’t properly trained to communicate and interact with their new teams then they’ll not only be ineffective but may also alienate themselves and cause stress and unhappiness.
A leader should know how to motivate their staff, deal with all personalities and get the most from their teams. If they don’t then how are they supposed to be of benefit to the business and their team?

An ongoing professional issue between and member of staff and their manager shouldn’t always be left for the two people concerned to sort out. Sometimes it’s necessary for a senior member of staff should step in to mediate and help resolve the issue before it escalates and potentially leads to a member of staff feeling they need to leave the business.

One side effect of bad feeling in the office is that individuals will happily air their dissatisfaction on social media. This ‘negative press’ not only effects those involved but also your employer brand and business reputation.

Effective leadership training and responsible action will help to maintain a happy and content workforce.

Organising social events, both departmental and on a company level, for your staff is an effective way to encourage interaction and give employees the opportunity to get to know each other and bond.
Creating a culture where people don’t feel awkward around their colleagues and are happy to discuss matters openly is a great way to ensure effective communication and collaboration.

Senior staff should also be encouraged to interact with their teams on a social level as this creates trust and a friendly atmosphere in the work environment.


Preventing stress is key to a healthy employee base. There are many ways in which you can create and maintain a healthy environment for your business. Below are some of the examples we’ve explored previously:

So what are employees looking for from an employer?

Below are the top responses to a survey asking ‘what makes an ideal working environment?’:

Ideal environment This statistic shows the ideal work environments according to workers worldwide as of September 2014. During the survey, 57 percent of the respondents said that an ideal work environment was one that offers a lot of collaboration.

As you can see the top 3 responses were:

  1. A collaborative environment
  2. Flexibility
  3. The opportunity to utilise the latest technology

Although these responses would suggest that employers were more likely to invest in new technology to improve the employee experience, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Many brands would focus directly and exclusively on improving the customer experience.
Although this is obviously an extremely important element or any successful brand, ensuring that employees have the tools and solutions needed to provide a great product or service is also essential.

The top responses are however very positive for businesses as they illustrate that employees just want to be empowered to be productive and efficient for their employer.
If employers assume that allowing their employees flexibility and investing in the latest tech is a waste of time and money then they’ll be the ones who suffer in the long term.
Not only will these types of decisions impact productivity and employee satisfaction, they’ll also result in staff looking for an employer that does offer such options.

Investing both time and money in your current talent is just as important as the investments made in recruiting new employees. A loyal and happy workforce will increase productivity, provide free marketing through word of mouth and social media and reduce turnover costs.