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Gemma Harding


Head of Client Services

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The real reason that your staff are leaving


Gemma Harding delivers some home truths for the community.

No one is ever truly honest with their employer when they hand their notice in, for fear of never seeing a reference from them again, but there are often plenty of reasons why people look for greener pastures that would be valuable for managers to understand. Rehiring is still one of the most costly parts of business, and a recent report carried out by Oxford Economics has found that replacing a staff member can cost a British business around £30k. This is mainly due to the amount of time it can take to interview, cover work in the meantime and advertise, so employers obviously want to hold onto their staff, especially if they add value to their organisation.

Staff leaving is an inevitability, of course, and new hires can be a great opportunity to expand a business's skill set and repertoire, but if it’s happening all too often in your organisation, or desks around you keep emptying as colleagues abandon ship, it’s definitely time to look into it.

Know the culture of your office and hire accordingly

It makes sense to start at the beginning. Some interviewers will be really thorough when faced with a potential new member of their team, much to their credit. A ‘good fit’ isn’t all about ability or experience, it’s more about what kind of person someone is, and it’s absolutely essential for the morale and culture of a workplace to make the right decision. Asking someone questions about what they like to do in their spare time, if they ever played in sports teams or if they organised charity fundraisers at their previous place of work, will help you get to know a person. If your current staff like to get involved with these kind of things, you can guarantee this candidate will be a great addition.

If your place of work is much more formal, this will demand different questions that are perhaps slightly more subtle. Some people keep work as work, and some fields demand professionalism above all else, so finding out who is sitting across from you in the interview room is crucial.

Think about more than just salary

According to a 2009 survey conducted by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, praise and commendation, acknowledgement from higher management, and the opportunity to lead, all motivated people more than ‘performance-based cash bonuses’. While there will always be people who want a bonus, and who can blame them, this isn’t sustainable and it doesn’t encourage good performance long-term.

People need an opportunity to progress – no one wants to stagnate. Knowing that there is a clear path of advancement and development in their career – something that tells someone how valuable they are – can ensure an individual stays loyal to a particular company for years to come. Just saying ‘thank you’, giving a brief acknowledgement, and letting someone know that they’re trusted can go a long way.

Some would say that rewarding individuals personally isn’t the way forward, and treating a team as a collective entity is the way forward. This is definitely worth considering, and a balance must be struck, but what’s more important is taking into account how differently some people work. Some are very content to be part of a successful whole, and others need a bit more individual recognition. What motivates some doesn’t motivate others, so good employers should put feelers out amongst their staff to find out what works.

Offer thorough training

Claire McCartney, resourcing and talent planning adviser at the CIPD, recently lamented the fact that 'training spends are down' in many corporations, according to the organisation’s own research. 'It’s really important that employers identify the development needs of their employees', and she attributes comprehensive training to combating 'high recruitment costs', as staff will inevitably look for opportunities elsewhere if they don’t feel like they’re encouraged to progress and learn in their current situation.

Our careers are a long-term development and dominate our lives, so the large majority of people will look for variety and promotion wherever they can. Employers who don’t make this easy for their staff, and who avoid training because it’s costly or time-consuming, will keep losing ambitious staff.

Retaining the best and the brightest doesn’t always require a significant financial investment, but investing time and effort is a must. Employers who are creative in their approach and demonstrate that they’re appreciative of their staff will benefit in the long and short-term, as their staff will both enjoy the day-to-day and remain loyal. 

Gemma Harding is the head of client ervices at CallCare, an outreach call centre based throughout the UK

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Gemma Harding

Head of Client Services

Read more from Gemma Harding

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