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3 Things Leaders Can Do to Retain Key People in 2015

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Many people made New Year’s Resolutions this year e.g. quitting smoking or going to the gym. However, for some employees they will have started the year with a resolve to leave their job.


A survey from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) has shown that 37% of UK workers are planning to leave their current job in 2015, which is a dramatic increase in potential employee turnover as the figure was 19% in 2014.


Charles Elvin, Chief Executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management, said: “The survey illustrates just how crucial it is that workers feel valued in the workplace. As many workers like to make a change at this time of year, it is important that organisations adapt to this phase by offering the chance to learn new skills and opportunities to progress wherever possible.”

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The average cost to recruit and train one employee is estimated at anything between 1.5 and 2.5 times an employee’s salary. Research has shown that retaining your best employees ensures customer satisfaction, product sales, satisfied employees, effective succession planning and deeply embedded organisational knowledge and learning.


So as a leader, to what extent are you maximising the potential of your teams and the engagement of your best employees?


According to the ILM survey* of more than 1,000 UK workers and managers, this year employees want more from their job than better pay. Many employees are considering leaving their jobs because they don’t feel valued by their current organisation.


The survey also revealed that staff are feeling increasingly undervalued by their managers, with 25% of those planning to leave because they feel under-appreciated in their current role.


Nearly a third of employees looking for a new job this year said better management would tempt them to take a new role, while 27% of respondents are looking for more training and development.


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“All staff want to feel that they are appreciated by their organisation so it’s crucial that companies actively recognise the efforts and talents of their employees,” Charles said.


If you would like to do more to help retain your key employees this year, there are 3 things you can do:

Involve Them;              Support Them             and              Recognise Them:


  1. Involve them

People (especially great people) like to feel that they’re an integral part of the success of their company. There are 2 simple ways you can do this:

1) keep your people informed about what’s happening and why, and

2) give them as much influence over decisions as possible.


So, first, be honest and consistent in communicating important information about the company. It’s demotivating to find out critical news about your company by reading about it through the grapevine, or worse, in the paper.


Communicate both the great stuff and the difficult stuff first to your employees. Second, include employees in the decision-making process whenever you can. This can be anything from asking for their input in an employee survey, and then actually responding to what you hear in substantive ways, to creating a culture where authority to make specific decisions is pushed as far down into the company as possible. 


The ability of the employee to constructively speak their mind freely within the organisation is a key factor in employee retention.


As Patrick Lencioni (Author of ‘5 Dysfunctions of a Team’) says: Do you let them weigh in, in order to get buy in? Does your organisation solicit ideas and provide an environment in which people are comfortable providing feedback?

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  1. Support them:

In companies that are bad at keeping great people, employees tend to feel disconnected and even though leaders can be effective in doing many things, if they don’t spend time supporting their team, the message is clear: do your work and don’t bother me.


Supporting your people can take many forms, but the ones that have the biggest impact are those that let them know you genuinely care about their success: checking in with them regularly; doing your best to remove obstacles and provide relevant resources; asking about how you can support their personal development and finding ways to help challenge them and grow.


So find out what each individual person wants in terms of support and give that to them. In terms of workplace satisfaction this is probably the most important factor of all. Frequently saying thank you – genuinely – also goes a long way.


How often do you praise your team and recognise them as individuals for the contribution they make?



  1. Recognise Them:


People often leave jobs because they feel their hard work has gone unnoticed and unappreciated. Everyone is different and great leaders work out what each of their team members need: some employees can go years without praise, whereas others will leave after six months.


Many people want to be appreciated for their hard work and good results. It’s as simple as letting those who work for you know, regularly, that you’re aware of what they’re doing and that you’re grateful for their efforts and results. It is often cited by employees who leave organisations that they had:


  • lack of clarity about expectations
  • lack of clarity about earning potential
  • lack of feedback about performance
  • failure to hold scheduled meetings and
  • failure to provide a framework within which the employee perceives they can succeed




Most companies give lip service to the importance of good employees – they don’t actually treat them as though they’re important. Companies that keep most of their great people, at every level, treat them like valued partners in the business’ success.


What part are you playing in retaining your key employees and how well are you doing it?


I am passionate about maximising your leadership effectiveness and the potential of your team, so that you can get better results.


If you would like to get in touch, it will be great to chat about your leadership goals and options for achieving them. 


In the meantime, many best wishes for your success in 2015.



* ILM Survey and Website Article