The Art Of Retaining: How To Hold On To Your Best Staff


There can be no doubt that the workplace has evolved in the last couple of years. From the switch to remote and flexible working to the changing demands of applicants and existing employees, virtually every industry has been affected to some degree.

One widely discussed aspect of workplace change has been the notable increase in people questioning their career choices and rethinking what new direction they might like to take. Indeed, some surveys found that over 50% of workers were considering some kind of career change as a direct result of the pandemic. 

This current trend has left companies with something of a secondary crisis to deal with: how do you hold on to your top performing staff when so many are weighing up their options. In fact, two years removed from the beginning of the pandemic, many employers are still struggling to retain their best workers. 

However, there are things that any business can do to give them the best chance of keeping their most talented workers content and loyal. Ultimately, what every employee is looking for is a good reason to stay. It’s your job to work out those reasons in order to retain your high-performing staff. 

Communicate effectively

One of the best ways to alienate staff is to make them feel like they don’t know what is going on within the business. Some employers like to keep their cards close to their chest and only confide ideas and plans with a select group within the company. But doing so can lead workers to feel like they are trusted or that their opinion isn’t valued.

When you include employees and keep them updated with the latest information about business performance and strategy, it makes them feel like a larger part of the organisation; they feel invested in what is going on. 

Good communication takes multiple different fronts. If you recognise that a valued member of staff might be considering a change or could benefit from a more flexible working pattern, speak to them in person. Regular whole team meetings are also highly recommended – and you should make sure that employees are provided with time to ask any questions or get details clarified. 

Regularly check in with staff

It is also a great idea to regularly check in with your staff to get a feel for their morale, motivation and opinion of the company. Doing this actually has two purposes. The first is to get a genuine snapshot of employees’ feelings towards the company. It gives your staff the chance to have their opinion heard and listened to. 

The second purpose is that employees like to be listened to. If employees feel that the company that they work for takes them seriously and wants the best for them, they are more likely to stay loyal to the organisation as a whole. 

Getting their feedback can provide you with useful things that you can action to keep them and the rest of your team happier. If you receive negative feedback – use it wisely. Knowing what your company is doing wrong can be really constructive. It will help you identify key areas to improve and ‘right the wrongs’ that can encourage talented staff to stay on board.

Make the right hiring decisions

It is really worth pointing out that one of the key places for retaining staff comes at the very first stage of their time with the company. When you come to make that initial hiring decision you may be choosing between a number of candidates. Some of those candidates may well have exceptional CVs – but you need to look beyond what they have achieved, and ask: are they likely to stay loyal?

It is a great idea to put a focus behind hiring a team that is going to work well together and that is likely to encourage them to stick around. The costs of having to hire someone new on a regular basis can outweigh the potential gains of hiring an employee with slightly more experience. 

Know when to seek alternatives

It is also important to know which battles to fight. Yes, businesses want to hold on to all of their best staff but in some cases it can be inevitable that some members of the team will leave. 

A good example of this is currently playing out due to the shortage of workers to fill cybersecurity positions. The cybersecurity skills gap is pushing up wages to the point where small businesses cannot hope to afford to retain their best cybersecurity workers, as there are so many larger companies looking for these skills. In an instance like this it makes sense to move your priority away from retaining your team, over to outsourcing a high quality alternative. 

“Organisations are under pressure due to the global shortage of IT security professionals, which now exceeds four million, and means security experts are costly to recruit and retain,” says George Glass, Head of Threat Intelligence at cybersecurity firm Redscan “outsourcing cybersecurity requirements helps to alleviate the pressure on in-house IT and security teams, supplying experts to help carry the load.” 

Pay what a member of staff is worth

There are undoubtedly some employers who will go into every pay review with a plan to keep a member of staff happy while still getting a ‘good deal’ for the business. And for many employers, getting what they want is much easier than they might think. There is evidence to suggest that millennial employees (who make up the majority of the workforce) are less likely to ask for a pay rise than previous generations. 

This can lead to a situation where an employer will feel that it is fine to continue having that member of staff on a lower wage than the market would demand. However, this is not a good strategy for retaining staff. Millennials may not feel comfortable asking for a pay rise, but leaving them on a lower salary than they deserve will only result in them looking at other options.

Most members of staff prefer to be recognised for their hard work rather than having to directly ask for more money. By pre-empting their requests, businesses can make them feel far more positive about a pay rise, and actually build their loyalty too. 

Offer training, development and incentives

Employees don’t like to stagnate. One of the most common reasons for staff to feel like they want to move on from a business is that they feel they don’t have anywhere to progress and aren’t learning anything new. This can leave them feeling frustrated and believing that their only option to further their career is to head elsewhere.

That’s why it can be so effective to offer training and development to employees as a part of their role. Investing in employee training not only provides your business with additional skills and expertise, it can also leave them feeling more positive about the company that is helping to further their career. 

Offering top-performing employees incentives can successfully motivate staff. By actively proving that you value your staff, you inadvertently enrich your entire workplace culture.

A good working environment is vital

We’ll finish this on the note that having a great working environment is probably the single most important thing that a business can do to retain staff. Workers are more likely to stick around if they like where they work and feel happy. It is up to you to provide this working environment and to understand what it takes to make it.