MSP Answers

MSP Answers

30.1.2012 Article 26


Great staff are vital to a great MSP (Part 2)

Last week I spoke about the number one reason employees leave their employer – in ninety per cent of cases it is because they think their boss is a jerk.

This week I want to discuss strategies to keep your employees with your organisation (assuming you want to keep them). I ethically have a problem with poaching employees – but unfortunately not everyone else subscribes to the same ethics that I subscribe to. My employees are often approached by competitors in an attempt to poach my greatest asset. Part of my job is to make my employees unpoachable – which is no easy task. The challenge is to make your work environment so appealing to your employees that when the promises of the unknown are made, they prefer to stay with the environment they are in.

The secret here is to find out what really appeals to an employee. Anecdotally, most employers would think that employees would think the perfect job would involve sitting around doing nothing and getting paid a huge amount of money.

The real-world survey results tell a completely different story.

The number one reason for an employee to stay with their current employer is…challenging work. Employees actually say they want to work harder. They want to be challenged and given a real reason for turning up to work each day. Don’t be scared to challenge your staff and ask them to extend themselves. It is the main reason they want to be at work.

The second reason your employees stay is closely linked to the number one reason they leave. In second place is having a good boss. If they have a good boss, they are more likely to stay with the same employer. Having talked last week about the main reason that people leave – being the fact their boss is a jerk – it makes sense that a good boss will be more likely to keep them employed. The world is run on relationships and the relationship between and employer and employee is vital.

Very closely behind a good boss is recognition. When a staff member performs wonderful work, they want to be acknowledged. Even when they perform adequate work, they would like to be acknowledged. It is about feeling valued and worthwhile as a person.

Those top three reasons stand out above all others. Number four is a reasonable drop below number three in importance but still worth noting. Career growth is the number four reason people stay employed. They want to feel as if they are going somewhere and have a path set out for them. I often talk about the value of training – not just in improving the skills of your employees but also in improving the chances they will stay with you. Many people tell me they are concerned about spending money on training as they will commit funds to an employee and have them trained up and then they will leave to work for a competitor. This is always a possibility but are you better off having a group of untrained employees lacking in skills that work for you forever or skilled staff that work for you for a shorter period of time. The irony is that by training your employees, the statistics reveal that they are more likely to stay.

Number five on our retention list is flexible conditions. Employers can no longer demand that they own an employee and run their life. If an employer can show they are flexible and will work in with the needs of an employee, they are more likely to stay.

At number six is the item that most employers mistakenly think is number one. Fair pay. It has been proven that if you pay around market wages, the actual amount of pay is relatively insignificant. If you pay well below market rates, this issue may slide up closer to number one.

The number seven reason is one that fascinates me. When I was at school our careers adviser would tell us to get a job in the bank because you are then set with a job for life. The modern employee is not that concerned about having a job for life – and consequently job security is now at number seven on the list of reasons to stay. The modern employee assumes that he will be able to get another job tomorrow – and he is probably right – so job security is not that important.

You can see there are a range of ways to make an employee want to stay working for you. The last piece of advice I will give you on this is to talk to your employees. I have my direct managers interview my employees on a monthly basis and they ask them what they think of their current work environment. How can it be improved? What will keep them and what will make them leave? The answers are often interesting and fascinating – but never what you expect.

Do not underestimate the value of attracting brilliant staff and then keeping those staff for as long as you can. The importance of staff is often overlooked but the number one asset in your business is the group of staff you have assembled.

Next week I will explore further a few little nice touches you can add on to really make the staff feel special.

Tell me what you think the number one reason people stay with an employer at md@smallbusinessrules.com.