The war for talent, a buzz phrase from the late '90s, is back. With companies adding new jobs, especially in sales, there's a demand for good workers. Companies are sourcing, screening and hiring again, but what are they doing for retention?
It's a huge cost savings to keep a star employee engaged. The costs associated with recruitment, training and mentoring are high, especially if the star decides there's something better out there. More than ever, companies, large and small, need to make sure retention is part of the management strategy.
Sharon Jordan-Evans, president of the Jordan Evans Group and co-author of "Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay," recently spoke to a group of Monster employees and their clients at the Westin Hotel in Boston.
The crux of her message was that the new corporate rainmaker will be the person who can find and keep talent. Here were the 10 key points she made to ensure your star players are engaged:
1) Make sure the job fits.
This starts with the job ad and job description. You know what you're looking for. Ask good questions on the interview. Do a good job communicating the value proposition. Not all salespeople make great sales managers. Irrigation specialists aren't necessarily good plumbers. A bad fit is a waste of time and money. Then you get to do it again.
2) Be a mentor.
Be sure there's someone on your staff (maybe it's you) who works with the star employee, engaging her with savvy knowledge and real-life experience. Share advice on how to work with different people in the company. Don't be late for so-and-so's meeting. Don't go over this person's head. Push, challenge and inspire.
3) Explore opportunities.
Star players want to learn. They want to grow. That's why they're stars. Make sure you're offering a clear upward career path. If that path falls outside your group, be open to allowing him to switch departments. It's the right thing to do for your company if divisional movement keeps him employed by you. It helps your bottom line, and that's why you're in business.
4) Share information.
Two-way symmetrical communication is key, but make sure you're revealing what you know. Obviously not everything is open to full disclosure, but share what you can. If you're a public company, financial results are already out there. Be willing to talk about what the numbers mean and where the company needs to improve. Who's new? Who's who? How does this affect us? Be open and inclusive.
5) Give space.
Allow your stars to think big. When giving assignments, don't plan every last detail up front. Allow collaboration and be open to new ideas on how to approach a new project. Be open to requests. Bend the rules from time to time. Treat your stars with respect.
6) Show concern for family.
Show support. Get to know your star's situation. Is she married? Does she have kids? What are their names? How old are they? Be family-friendly. One example Jordan-Evans used was a manager knew that his star's daughter sang in an a cappella group. He also knew she videotaped it. So he called together a bunch of people at the company to watch the tape. Think the star felt good about her job that day?
7) Customize your approach.
A company cannot have an overarching retention strategy that serves as a template. Retention must be customized to each individual star. You need to take the time to build and nurture one-on-one relationships. This is not automation. This is taking the time to be personable.
8) Pay competitively.
Money isn't everything, but it's key. Make sure you understand the going industry rate for your star's position. Base it on skills and years of experience, but also consider this: How good is he at this job? If he's really, really good, finding an extra $5-$10K is worth getting if it keeps him around. If you can't get it, at least show a visible effort.
9) Have fun.
Have some kicks. This isn't planned fun, like a company outing. This is bringing humor to the workplace, spontaneous cheerfulness that can be sprinkled throughout the day. Show a pulse. Make the work environment a breezy place to spend time. Smile. A positive culture with a few surprises will do wonders for retention.
10. Write a letter.
Your star deserves thanks. It's easy to do this verbally and in an e-mail. Instead, write her a letter. Date it and sign it. This is something she won't expect. It shows you truly do appreciate her effort. And she'll save that letter because it's more tangible than an e-mail.