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  • Writer's pictureVinay Kalliat

The Great Retention

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Retain your staff in these turbulent times. Look within your company and work on plans and programmes that work for YOU. Here are some ideas...

Ants - the epitome of how a whole can become greater than the sum of its parts


A lot has been said on social media, webinars and conferences about the ‘Great Resignation’, ‘Great Rethink‘ and many other ‘Great’ concepts that seem to present a picture of doom and gloom in everyone’s minds.

Let’s face it. Many of these scenarios are downright scary. Everywhere we look, we are surrounded by stories of people quitting, companies struggling to source talent and most often, stories of high salaries being doled out to either poach or retain talent (depending on which side of the table you’re on). HR folks have taken to doom-scrolling on LinkedIn and Twitter to look at the bloodbath that seems to rival even medieval wars.

While some of these stories of doom and gloom may be true, we believe that this movement masks an opportunity for companies to double down on employee experience by improving employee engagement.

Getting philosophical about Retention

Hiring and resignation are like birth and death. They are inevitable. What matters is how the employee lives, breathes and works during her tenure while she is at her employer.

Employers should ask themselves (and their workforce) these questions: Is she happy? Is she expressing opinions and ideas freely? Is she making mistakes, learning from them and breaking new ground regularly? Does she have psychological safety? What are we doing to encourage people to stay? What are we doing to make employees feel that their personal and career goals would be met by us and that they don’t need to look out?

From philosophy to practice

These solutions can find success in companies of all sizes and all sectors. Because whatever the situation, human beings will always be human beings and would be guided by the guiding set of goals, beliefs and attitudes. Employers that tap into these innate reasons behind employee engagement can really move the needle on employee retention.

Here are a few simple tools that employers of all types can leverage to gain immense value. These tools are rooted in Design Thinking and Systems Thinking, using empathy as a keystone.

Segment employees

HR Teams should take some time to segment their employees around 2 axes - tenure and level. Doing this would provide immense value and idea-generation capabilities on how to approach each segment with customised approaches to employee engagement initiatives.

We have seen that doing this exercise actually helps HR Teams realise that their programmes can actually be fine-tuned to better serve the end goal of their Business and

Employee stakeholder groups. We have also seen “OMG” expressions on our client's faces when they went through this exercise and realised that they were approaching an engagement problem all wrong in the beginning!

Measure the right things

Business and HR should sit together while working on measurements. While “What can’t be measured can’t be improved” is certainly true, there is a flip side to it. Not everything that matters can be measured.

Here’s an example: HRBPs are tasked with employee retention and are measured against this metric within the HR Team. However, what if the Business only wanted to retain top talent or people with niche skills? What if they really wanted to let-go of people who were mediocre performers? It’s important to measure what’s right as opposed to measuring for measuring’s sake.

Deploy easily accessible communications channels

Communication is really important. It’s the glue that binds everything together. Employers need to work out what is the communication channel that works for them and their employees and not be swayed by the shiny new platform that everyone else is on.

Make sure that the channel is useful and is updated regularly. Create not just long-form content, but also bite-size information that is then shared with employees.

Take intranets, for instance. This channel is underrated in its ability to become a ‘town centre’ for employee information.

We have worked with companies to create intranet pages based on segmented employee cohorts and have seen employee experience improve dramatically. Intranets are easily accessible within the company firewalls and can be filled with information that is relevant, useful and timely

Look at the 'Big Picture' with Stakeholder Matrix Management

Policy rolls outs are a great thing for HR Teams. It is the culmination of weeks of hard work, dozens of interviews with other companies and a lot of meetings. But HR Teams sometimes forget to look at the big picture while in the middle of these activities. They forget to look at the complete picture of the different stakeholders (apart from employees) who would be impacted by this policy.

Policy rollouts affect People Managers, Leaders, New Joiners, relevant cohorts who would actually be affected (segments) and even support functions like Legal and Finance. Just as it takes a village to bring up a child, it takes the involvement of multiple stakeholders to successfully deploy a policy.

Build Communities of Employees with common interests

We believe that ‘Communities’ are the Future of Workplaces. This is an extension of what is happening in the world outside workplaces. More and more people today trust information that comes from people who they perceive is closest to their situation. Purchase decisions are made with community feedback - because the community understands our needs better than the salesperson.

We have helped companies build communities within their staff and helped them with the tools and resources that they then use to tell their stories - content for an intranet page set up just for this group and collaterals for outreach programmes, amongst others.

Notable among these are D&I initiatives where Community Members were encouraged to tell their stories and then see them come alive through collaterals that were shared with not just existing staff, but even with new joiners who had accepted offers, as part of the Employee Value Proposition document.

Article summary

Employers need to look inwards now more than before and do everything in their power to retain employees aggressively. Multiple tools are available to employers now. Technology - the very thing that seems to be disrupting the demand and supply of talent in the market can also be used to retain the talent that joins and provide them with the fuel to soar to new heights. These initiatives must not be seen as one-off exercises but as long-term initiatives.

Communication is an important part of this exercise. Companies need to play the long game here and look for people, processes and partners that can stay invested with them for long-term projects.

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