retention of your key staff

9th April 2020

The JobKeeper payment should have been called the Retain-Your-Critical-Staff payment. At least that’s how businesses should be thinking of it.

First and foremost, you want your business to still be around. But a close second is to still have your key employees when you do.

Consider the Christmas period. Businesses shut for the holidays. Employees take a break, they spend more time with their friends and families, and rethink their priorities. Inevitably, workplace social connections weaken. Given the space (voluntary or not) and a healthy dose of negativity bias, employees tend to forget how much they enjoy catching up with Jim to discuss the latest Netflix Original and instead start to focus on how long the daily commute was and how unreasonable their boss was with task deadlines.

These factors come in January every year, more people seriously consider changing jobs, particularly if they’ve been staying in their current role by sheer force of habit. Given a forced hiatus and thinking space, some will decide to try a new opportunity, leading to many businesses experiencing their highest turnover around this time.

Now take that situation, multiply it tenfold and we can start to better understand the significant impact coronavirus could have on long-term key employee retention.

The message is simple. Managers – think long-term. If you want your jobs to be easier on the other side of this, keep the people who make your job easy. Cutting staff expenses now will result in short term gain but will cause long-term pain when you have trouble getting your prized employees back.

Where to from here? Start with identifying your critical staff – the employees that significantly affect key performance measures such as revenue, costs, quality or customer-engagement metrics, or are critically important to the business strategy.

  1. Establish criteria for critical positions

Two key characteristics must be present for a position to be considered critical –

Is the job core to the organisation’s mission?

Does the job have a significant impact on the business?

List specific, measurable and time-based statements that act as reference points for determining whether a critical position satisfies a characteristic.

  1. Identify ALL critical positions – evaluate jobs against the criteria
  2. Prioritise KEY critical positions

While each business has critical positions that are pivotal to its success, some jobs are more important than others at any given time. Which jobs are KEY for this particular situation?

What if there’s no way you can retain even your most critical staff? How can you ensure your key employees return when the crisis is over? It’s all about maintaining the social connections.

  • Communication, communication, communication. Stay in contact with your people. Humans are social beings – we need to connect with others in order to survive – what mechanisms can you put in place to maintain connectedness during isolation. Be as informative and specific as you can about situation updates and next steps. Utilise social media – e.g. set up a Facebook group with key employees. Encourage them to post updates as well (personal).
  • Health and wellbeing. This is not just about physical and social health. Consider intellectual heath. Consider intellectual health. What activities can you suggest for employees to keep their minds engaged.
  • Employer branding. How well have you been treating your employees up until now? Hindsight is always 20-20 but perhaps there are still some strategies that you can put in place now to improve your brand (organisational culture, reputation) to ensure the right people return.

Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint

Recovering from this event will take months or maybe even years, which can make it overwhelming for you and your employees when you’re trying to get things back on track. It’s important to pace yourself, your employees and your company.

This is a challenging time for businesses, with new initiatives and legislation being passed quickly due to the COVID-19 situation. TP Human Capital IR/HR Consulting can offer you strategic advice that can help mitigate your risks and protect your business during this period.  

Contact us today and we are happy to help you with your workplace queries.