What do you need to know to retain your top talent?

Should I stay or should I go? This isn’t the beginning of a karaoke sing-along; professionals across the country are asking themselves this question every day. The fact of the matter is – employees just don’t stay with companies as long as they used to.

Consider this: According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the average young professional plans to have five employers or more throughout the duration of their career. A LinkedIn study found that over the course of 2015, 75,000 Australians left their jobs and there was a 36 per cent spike in the number of professionals looking to leave their current company.

Professionals today aren't staying in their jobs as long as the workers that came before them. Professionals today aren’t staying in their jobs as long as the workers that came before them.

The moving motivators

The proof is in the numbers. Professionals today are skittish. But what exactly makes them want to move on?

The reasons for leaving fall within a wide spectrum. From a lack of development opportunities to a desire for a more appealing company culture, professionals differ in their motives for leaving. However, across reports and studies there are some leading drivers worth noting.

One report in particular, by CareerBuilder, examined what it was that made people jump jobs. The leading responses were as follows:

  • 58 per cent cited general job dissatisfaction
  • 45 per cent cited a lack of adequate advancement opportunities
  • 39 per cent cited unhappiness with their work/life balance
  • 39 per cent cited feeling underemployed
  • 39 per cent cited being extremely stressed

These same drivers were echoed by the LinkedIn report, which found that a lack of development opportunities, poor work culture and inadequate compensation were all major reasons for employee turnover.

That leaves us with one big question: How do you make your top talent stay?

Reduce stress by being flexible

Having a flexible work culture plays a big role in workplace happiness. In fact, it is one of the most sought after incentives by the younger generation of workers, according to PwC. Increasingly, more offices are offering work from home options for qualifying team members. These kinds of flexible options can help address two of the major drivers of employees leaving: inadequate work/life balance and excessive stress.

Having a flexible work culture plays a big role in workplace happiness.

Let’s take a work from home policy as our primary example. A study by the Victorian Integrated Survey of Travel and Activity (VISTA) found that 76 per cent of commuters spend up to 45 minutes travelling to work (90 minutes round trip) and 24 per cent spend 46 minutes or more getting to work.

By offering trustworthy team members the option to work from home you are eliminating this travel time completely. This opens up more time for personal activities, expanding work/life balance. Allowing employees to work from the comfort of their homes can mean less stress and more balance – making staying with your company much more appealing.

Create appealing development opportunities

Companies that facilitate growth retain more employees. Study after study shows that a commitment to development (or lack thereof) is what makes or breaks people’s feelings about their current company.

“Regardless of what else you expect from your managers, facilitating employee learning and development should be a non-negotiable competency,” explained Harvard Business Review contributor Monique Valcour.

She goes on to cite surveys from the likes of Google and Gallup that have all come to the same conclusion: Without investment in their career development, your employees won’t stick around. Leaders and managers should put a concentrated effort into identifying and creating professional growth opportunities for their teams. Whether this means group training in critical business areas or some one-on-one mentoring, focusing of these kind of initiatives can be the difference between retaining your top talent and losing them.

Investing in professional development opportunities can be the different between retaining your top talent and losing them.Investing in professional development opportunities can be the difference between retaining your top talent and losing them.

Take exit interviews seriously

While we have pinpointed some of the main reasons employees leave, the reasons for turnover will vary by company. You need to identify the problems that are unique to your organisation, map out trends and address them accordingly.

That’s why exit interviews can be so valuable. You have the opportunity to have an honest conversation with your departing employees. What were their main reasons for leaving? Is there anything that could have made them stay? Do they see any viable fixes to the current issues? Your employees know better than anyone else what makes people leave and what makes them stay – leverage your exit interview to get a staff perspective on turnover and retention.

In the current marketplace, attracting and retaining top talent is a critical function in order to remain competitive. When you lose an employee, it’s likely one of your competitors will gain their talents. To learn more about how to effectively manage a team and cultivate loyalty internally, check out some of ICML’s leadership and management courses today!

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