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How to retain your top talent

How to retain your top talent

In the wake of the global resignation trend of 2021/2022, many companies resorted to drastic measures to retain their top performers. Company allowances, remote working arrangements and wage increases formed part of these incentivized schemes, but companies quickly learned that it is impossible to buy loyalty. Here are some things to consider when trying to ensure your team’s happiness.

The hunt for talent is real

Businesses around the world, especially in the outsourcing industry, were dealt a crippling blow during the global pandemic lockdowns, when there was a sudden uptick in staff resignation. Research indicates that the BPO industry is grappling with a 60% – 70% employee attrition rate, while the IT industry is in the low 10% – 20% range. While trends and business statistics are in a constant state of flux, the resignation trend has persisted long after businesses reopened or returned to normal.

This inexplicable skills exodus also gave rise to the relentless pursuit for available talent to fill gaps left by experienced individuals, regardless whether they were currently employed or not. With recruitment specialists scouring social platforms in search of specific skill sets and luring them with attractive packages, it turned into an unethical poaching exercise.

According to a recent study by Joblist, 60% of high performers were approached by recruiters on online job platforms. Further to this, 84% of those who had been poached, were contacted by a recruiter from another company even after accepting an offer for a position. Another survey by Talent Works in 2021, confirmed this when they found that 38% of respondents were engaged more than 5 times in that year. What was important to note, was that the preferred talent to be approached were not government workers, but highly skilled software professionals.

Can you stop recruiters from poaching your talent?

Job poaching might be entirely ethical, but it is not illegal. Essentially any individual has the right to make their own decisions. Some employment contracts, however, include a non-compete clause, which prevents someone from working at a competitor for a defined period after their termination, or a restraint of trade clause, which prohibits someone from opening a competing business for a defined period (or in a defined radius) after their termination.

However, post-termination restrictions can be challenged when it impedes an individual’s fair right to earn a livelihood or to provide for their family, especially where they have a rare skill set. No contractual clause can prohibit an individual from earning a fair living, unless they are creating a real monetary loss to their former employer by taking existing customers with them, or by deliberately challenging their former employer’s cashflow in any way.

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What can you do to retain your top talent?

The notion of earning a better pay makes a good argument for ensuring that all team members receive a living wage, but the subsequent rungs on the decision-making ladder could motivate your team members to think twice before jumping ship. Here are some things to consider if you want to ward off recruiting agencies.

1. Hire right the first time

This might seem dead obvious, but it’s often overlooked. At the onset of the employer-employee relationship, make sure their views and values are aligned with the company’s mission and vision. This important stumbling block can be dealt with at the interview stage. If you are conducting a virtual interview, introduce yourself and the company, then take the required time to engage the individual in a comfortable discussion about themselves. This investment in the interview process will pay off in dividends down the road.

As the interview process progresses, be open and honest with the candidate about the proposed job description and what exactly their position will entail. This will manage everyone’s expectations and establish a trust relationship from the start. 

2. Create a positive working environment

The age-old adage that “people don’t leave companies, they leave people” is more relevant today than ever before. Studies have shown that Gen Z workers are less likely to endure a toxic work environment, which could result in higher staff rotation purely based on their willingness to depart from negativity in the workplace. Not even the luxury of remote or hybrid working arrangements can overcome this obstacle.

The days of dictatorial or exploitative working agreements came to a grinding halt at the turn of the century, though, in rare circumstances, it still shows its ugly face. For some, this transition was a willing adoption of a more humanistic management structure. For others, it had to be enforced through the amendment of country-specific labor laws. The modern workspace has become an inclusive, people-centric experience where real efforts are made to appreciate team members. While all the points mentioned here will contribute towards cultivating a positive work environment, the following should also be considered:

  • Promote diversity, inclusivity and equity
  • Optimize the onboarding experience for new hires
  • Conduct regular one-on-one meetings
  • Develop a meeting culture that encourages open communication
  • Recognize and appreciate a job well done
  • Establish a strong code of ethics or code of conduct

3. Put mental health first

Following on from the above, employers have become more sensitive to the needs of their teams, especially when it comes to mental health and incorporating a work-life balance. It stands to reason that someone’s mental health directly affects their performance. Through engagement groups or sessions, like book clubs, hiking groups, or virtual exercise or meditation sessions, you could help team members to balance their mental health. This focus on mental health awareness will positively contribute to each team member’s working experience.

4. Encourage learning and development

From the 306 notable HR professionals who took part in the Joblist survey, 80% agreed that pay was the deciding factor in retaining high-performing individuals, while 75% felt that training existing talent was more valuable than poaching high-performance individuals. By introducing training, coaching and mentorship initiatives, you create a powerful relationship with each team member, which will trump most offers from rival companies.

5. Promote from within

As opposed to bringing in foreign skill sets, there is nothing more powerful than internal promotions. The fruits that accompany the growth of a team member across a variety of roles or designations within a company, is unequaled. This is a surefire way to attain loyalty from your team. A detailed process of how to progress along the company hierarchy or organogram will eliminate the perceived fears that accompany these structures.

6. Structure comprehensive benefits

Even for those who are tragically disinterested in the wellbeing of their team members, there is a requirement to design a favorable employment package that will offer individuals incentives that translate to more than just remuneration. These benefits could include health or medical assistance, retirement planning, investment opportunities, or dividends. Beyond this, if the opportunity presents itself, there could also be relocation assistance, or accommodation and transport allowances. These benefit structures can form part of a sound retention strategy to prevent job poaching.

Outsourcing with a conscience

It’s not always possible to prevent team members from admiring the grass on the other side of the fence, but it is possible to improve matters in your own backyard. Where your talent still falls victim to persistent recruiters, it might be wise to relook outsourcing as a solution. This removes the burden of having to implement benefit structures or upskilling initiatives to retain your talent. However, if you decide to outsource, consider an organization that seeks first to create a non-poachable environment.

At Boldr we believe that there is an abundance of talent out there, but not enough opportunities available to them. This has filtered through our talent acquisition processes. That’s why we search for talent in its rawest form. By enabling team members to reach their true potential, we aspire for a long-term journey with them, which is why it’s our vision to ‘hire to retire’. Reach out to us if you want to know more about our team member retention strategy.

James Fouche is a Content Writer at Boldr, an author and a columnist. He is passionate about sharing his love of reading and writing with others.

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