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Your Business’s Secret Weapon: Talent Retention

Why keeping your employees around will be your best kept secret.

David Sand

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The figures that speak to the cost of replacing an engaged employee are more than surprising; in many ways they’re quite staggering. To replace an engaged employee costs between 60%-200% of the employee’s total annual salary. Indeed, replacement isn’t exactly a cheap exercise.

Related: Does Good Leadership Increase Profit?

A high employee turnover translates into higher operating costs, a subsequent loss of profits and, possibly, a loss of market share. All of the above are obvious disadvantages in a competitive environment, but the good news is that talent retention is a well-researched subject, and that there are answers to your questions.

Why is Talent Retention Important?

Good, engaged workers know your company well, are knowledgeable about its products and services, can make good decisions when needed, and, further, understand the market in which the company operates.

In other words, human capital is a valuable asset and an investment in retaining your personnel is an investment in productivity.

The following is a brief list of essential reasons that point out why talent retention should be a business priority:

  • Hiring is a time consuming process: Each CV needs to be examined, and a single round of interviews is often insufficient to find the correct fit.
  • Training: new recruit training is an essential element in the hiring process, and it takes time before a new recruit can begin to perform at optimal levels.
  • “Defection”: It is likely that if an employee leaves his/her current position in your organisation, they may be employed by a competitor operating in the same space.
  • Engaged employees are adjusted: The longer an employee has worked in an environment, the more they understand about company structures, key personalities, company culture and the value creation chain.
  • Loyalty: Loyal employees tend to work harder and feel a sense of ownership over their work: this is to say that a personal emotional investment by the employee in their work leads to productivity and returns.
  • ROI: Businesses across the size spectrum that retain their top talent perform on average 20-30% better than those companies that don’t. This in itself could be a key motivator for management to implement a staff retention strategy.

Related: Get Your Customers to Buy More Stuff

What Do Employees Want?

The secret key to retaining talented individuals is to engage with them, understand their concerns and needs, and respond to this information as best as is possible. In a general overview, the following lists the items that contribute to employee satisfaction:

  • Involvement in decision making
  • Freedom to voice ideas
  • Feeling enabled to perform well
  • Having adequate opportunities to develop
  • Feeling that organisations treat individuals as individuals, as opposed to mere production units.

Wanting to retain talent?

In the effort to retain top talent, a strategy needs to be developed that speaks to the criteria that actually make an employee want to stay at a company. In this regard, executives may want to approach incentive specialists who have years’ worth of experience in the field. If you decide to develop a programme without aid, however, bear the following in mind:

  • Build relationships and communicate with employees regularly
  • Build good recruitment processes
  • Build morale and provide a work environment that is comfortable and pleasing
  • Build respect: it is important that employees respect their direct supervisors as well as company leadership
  • Always, always treat employees fairly
  • Recognise and reward behaviour that reflects good work habits: A culture of appreciation is easy to implement, but the ROI is very high as productivity increases.

Indeed, retention can certainly go a long way to improving productivity, profit margins, and general morale, and can foster a happier, more positive work environment. Armed with the above information, and some enterprising thought, you may be on your way to designing a successful retention gambit.

Related: How To Find The Pricing Sweet Spot

David Sand – CEO and founder of UWIN IWIN (Pty) Ltd -1994, with offices in South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, India and Brazil. 2013 Global President of Site Global, the professional association for leaders in the motivational events and incentive industry. Regarded as a pioneer in the field on online incentive point banking and online loyalty, recognition and reward fulfilment. David is also the founder of the Youth Employment Index a non-profit company that addresses youth employment issues in Africa.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Anna Banana

    Mar 9, 2015 at 21:04

    Although SEI CMM is generally deprecated nowadays because the certifications were widely abused, it’s still very important to recognize that one requirement for both CMM 4 and CMM 5, the two top levels, was to maintain corporate memory by maintaining long-tenured employees.

    So when an organization unloads long-term employees for any reason other than malfeasance, it loses the knowledge and corporate memory borne by these employees.

    That’s never a good thing.

    I know a really good story about corporate memory that involves a ladder, a firehose, and a bunch of bananas, but it’s too politically incorrect to describe further.

    A.Banana

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Increase Profitability

Why Purpose Drives Profits

If you want to succeed, it’s time to start engaging where it matters.

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Over the past two years, many clients have been extending brand positioning exercises into purpose-driven expressions.

When we look at it, it makes sense given the country’s demographics. With many of our fellow countrymen struggling to make ends meet, brands have stepped in to provide them with a picture of a future worth striving for.

Global customer-centricity study, Insights 2020, led by research firm Kantar Millward Brown, has attempted to understand how brands could drive customer-centric growth as well as the factors that really make a difference. The research surveyed 10 495 individuals in 60 countries, and there are some significant efforts worth investing in if brands want to engage where it matters most, in consumers’ hearts.

The research uncovered that for market-leading companies and brands, traditional value drivers such as quality, packaging, or distribution are necessary, but no longer provide a competitive advantage; most brands are capable of providing these drivers. What is important, are a few critical approaches.

1. Purpose-led brands

The study found that when companies or brands linked to a purpose, 80% of them outperformed the market. Only 32% of non-purpose led brands managed to perform better than the market. 

Related: How To Calculate Gross Profit

2. On the ground

It’s important to engage with consumers in their space and on their terms. Through the use of memorable campaigns, experiential events and activations it is critical to engage with consumers on their turf.

3. Be truthful and authentic

Consumers can smell something inauthentic a mile away, especially when it’s coming from a brand. This forces brands to strive for authenticity in everything they do, especially when it comes to marketing. Building values and principle-based attributes into your brand as a guiding tool is essential.

4. Helping consumers commit

By allowing individuals to attach themselves to a brand with a purpose, it helps consumers personally commit to a cause that they consider important. When a consumer is personally invested, the link between the brand and product or service deepens.

Related: Profit Share for Increased Performance

5. Balancing heritage and modern relevance

There is a continuous tussle in balancing the traditional market, transitional market and the new consumers brands are trying to attract. Keeping the heritage and roots of the brand true to itself, while creating relevance for the new market, is a battle marketers are still fighting.

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Increase Profitability

Need To Trim The Fat To Boost Profitability? Listen To Your Clients First

Jeff Bezos believed that once you win the client over by doing this, everything else will follow – not least profitability.

Marc Wachsberger

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Finding the balance between offering the extras that set you apart from your competitors and keeping things ‘lean and mean’ to minimise wastage and maximise return on investment is a tricky balancing act.

I’ve noticed that many businesses try to attract or retain customers by offering what they think their customers want, rather than finding out what they really need, and then delivering that. That’s an expensive mistake to make – and it’s not going to achieve the business results you need.

I’ve also observed that now is the age of the new entrepreneur – the game changers who disrupt the status quo long set by big bureaucratic competitors who think that their customers will just accept an inflationary (or slightly larger) increase every year, just because they always have.

While Amazon has been around for a while now, there’s also an important lesson to be learned from its launch goal, which was to bring the price to the client. Jeff Bezos believed that once you win the client over by doing this, everything else will follow – not least profitability.

How have I applied these lessons in my business?

Firstly, we design our hotels backwards – we focus on the needs of our clients, very aware that what hotel guests wanted years ago is not what they want now. That’s why we don’t offer thing like a turn-down service with chocolates on the pillow. Nobody eats the chocolates, and nobody uses the toiletries – so why should we include the costs of these unwanted extras (and the cost of the staff required to implement them) in the final bill to our clients?

Related: 7 Steps To Optimise Your Cycle Of Customer Service

We do, however, offer free WiFi internet connectivity, free parking in our buildings, free laundry services and either bed-and-breakfast options or self-catering rooms.

Simply put, we’ve cut the fat that nobody wants anyway, and added the value that our guests have said they expect.

Our clients have said that they expect the whole hotel to be a workstation, and not just the business centre in a dark, unwanted corner. So, we’ve put a workstation in every room, with always-on access to the internet. Our hotels are designed with beautiful work spaces that cater for nomadic entrepreneurs and double up as comfortable meeting spaces, again – gone are days of boardroom only meetings, our spaces are primed for work and play in one integrated space.

Our clients have pointed out that they’re already paying for their room – so why should they pay for parking?

Many of our clients stay with us for days or weeks at a time, and have said it would be helpful if we did their laundry. So, we do that for them – and we don’t charge them for it.

Related: Good Customer Service Is About Relating At The Same Level

It’s true that many of our old-school competitors offer a broader range of products and services than we do, but we’ve built a successful business on adding the value that our clients need, removing the costs and extras that annoy them, and keeping costs (theirs as well as ours) under control by cutting out unnecessary frills.

It’s an approach that’s worked for The Capital Hotels and Apartments as a disruptor in the hotel and long-stay accommodation industry, and I’m confident that its principles would apply to any other industry that’s ripe for disruption.

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If You Want Scale, Fail Fast And Learn Quickly

Mindset, focus and an understanding of scale are essential if you want to build a highly profitable, growing business.

Matt Brown

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“The secret to scaling a business is increasing revenues without incurring a corresponding increase in operating costs,” says Tom Asacker, author of The Business of Belief, Opportunity Screams, A Little Less Conversation and A Clear Eye for Branding, all groundbreaking books that redefine business and communication for the new age of abundance. “The single most important challenge is to have a deep understanding of your value creation and customer attraction and retention process, as well as how the company will ultimately make money over time through the unique realisation of that process.”

According to Howard Sackstein, founder of Saicom Voice Services, scale used to be measured by the number of people you employed or the number of branches you opened. “Today, these questions have become irrelevant,” he says.

howard-sackstein“When Whatsapp was sold for $19 billion the business had only 55 employees servicing 450 million users who were sending 34 billion messages a day – that’s a tiny company with enormous scale. So, today scale has come to mean something very different. In the new economy, scale is about scalable technology, how do we build software and apps that can cater for a billion users? The ideas of lots of employees and lots of offices has become old fashioned.”

The problem is that scale comes with costs and that’s why money is often the enemy of entrepreneurship. “Many of the great businesses of the new economy all began in garages, a small group of people, each with real skills each trying to bootstrap an idea to see if it worked,” continues Howard.

Related: Do You Have That 1 In 100 Business That Can Scale And Land An Investor?

“Often people go looking for funding; there’s a problem there too though – they scale too fast once they receive the cash and ultimately they fail because they have too much money. Entrepreneurs need to start small and if they fail they must fail fast. They need to test the market and grow incrementally to prove their idea. Once the idea has achieved a degree of adoption and has ‘crossed the chasm’ of technology adoption, only then can you start thinking of scale. And today scale means few costs, few employees, and tech that can scale to a mass market.”

Your Mindset is Everything

Your mindset while scaling is critical. “Value creation, customer attraction and your retention process are the result of every decision you make as an entrepreneur,” says Tom. “Your mindset shapes how you make these decisions.

“Every rand spent should be to add value in the eyes of the customer, or to improve the process that delivers that value, through automation, distribution, channel partners and so on.

“If businesses aren’t hyper-focused on adding value and deepening relationships with customers, someone will come along who will. If that happens, whether or not that process produces rapid growth is beside the point.”

Howard believes that follow-through is also essential. “So many people really want to build empires,” he says. “But how do you measure your success? Is it the number of employees you have, the number of companies, your disruptive influence on the market, revenue or actual profitability?

“You really need to decide this up front and that will affect your strategy. I probably have an old school mentality, but for me profit is everything. I don’t really understand the idea of focusing on scale with no business model in the hope that on an exit someone will find value. I know that’s a common idea in the tech world and you could get lucky by following it, but I think there are few people with that degree of luck – build for profit and sustainability, build as lean as possible and keep your eye on the actual ball.”

Related: What’s Stopping Your Business From Growing?

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