How do you retain staff? What do you consider as a long term employee in today’s market?

Doing what we do in recruitment, we see a lot of resumes coming through our system on a daily basis. The stand-out thing for us is the short tenure that most applicants have in their work history, which makes us ask the question – what is considered a long term employee? We also ask, do you hold employees longer than 3 years, and if so, do you do anything special to retain them?

Reading a story from this month’s BRW magazine about ‘The 50 Best Places To Work’ we saw some common themes about engagement of staff, team building, flexibility, having fun at work, recognition and professional development. We also read with interest some of the other activities such as free holidays, competitions, Kung Fu sessions (yes, Kung Fu!!!) and thought, what do our clients do to retain staff? We select and work with some great businesses on the Gold Coast and each has something to give that helps retain their staff. We have found that the culture plays a huge part, recognition for effort, flexibility in work hours (this one needs clear policies in place) and being paid appropriately were the major factors. Minor factors included the workplace perks such as bbq’s at lunch, Friday drinks, gym memberships and huge Christmas parties, that are all real factors for some people and they really love to tell their friends (or brag) about it.

Now we ask the question of what is considered a long term employee? Again we spoke to clients and our candidates about their employment tenure, and whilst we had quite a few that were 10 years plus in the one organisation, we are seeing more and more that employees are leaving around the third year mark or earlier. With this in mind, have you ever thought of working the opposite way to others and decided to recruit your next role with the focus on the person being in the role for 2 or 3 years maximum? Obviously there should also be a longer term plan for the role, as we always hope that they would stay longer, but what if they don’t?

Some may think that deciding on your next employee only lasting 2 or 3 years in the role as a defeatist attitude however, it can also prove to be a very smart and practical way of working within the current employment environment. Consider this for a moment:

  • If you have committed to having the person for 2 years, you can now plan what outcomes you want from that person (and the role) in the 2 years, break it down into quarters and set targets and/or projects for the role over that period
  • The role and KPI’s / targets will actually be better defined, giving the new employee a purpose in their role and better engagement as they know where they currently stand
  • By doing this, you may find that the new employee is focused on and may actually enjoy, achieving those targets (all roles can have targets, not just sales) and could become a long term employee and ultimately, an asset to your business
  • It could also help you develop a new recruitment strategy and succession plan for developing staff internally – recognition is valued by employees including the opportunity to advance their career

What you may find from taking a different approach is that morale and focus could be boosted, employees are more engaged, employees develop faster, and you lower the attrition rate in your business. There is no magic pill; however a small change in strategy can yield very good results.

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