Following on from our series on managing the labour market 2022-2024, this advice for Tenfold clients and small business owners contains real-world actions you should take to retain your team.
We’ve all had that sinking feeling when a critical employee resigns.
Then you start to tally up the effort and work that will go into placing the job advert, screening applicants, finding someone, inducting them, training them in your ways and systems and then hoping they work out right. That’s if you can actually get someone to apply for your role in the first place!
You think of all the things you could have done (and maybe should have done) to keep them.
Before you find yourself in that position, be proactive and don’t give your key people a reason to leave.
Be aware that many of them will be getting approaches from other companies, maybe even your direct competitors. I was speaking to one employee the other day in the IT industry , and they mentioned that they are getting around 6 employment approaches through LinkedIn every week!
One of the issues many businesses have found is that once one person leaves, it can trigger a domino effect. Other team members start to question why they are staying, and the person departing often isn’t backwards in justifying their decision to leave or spruiking the new role they’re taking up.
Actions to take to retain your team
Here is what it is likely going to take to retain your existing team in 2022. Many longer-term Tenfold clients are doing some of these activities consistently. These retention strategies have been implemented and refined over time and those clients have seen the benefit.
Other clients haven’t gotten around to these activities or haven’t seen the benefit until now. We strongly recommend that you prioritise this in 2022.
I have mapped out a quarter-by-quarter plan of best practices for team retention, with detailed explanations below. I’ve also attached the action list as a PDF for you to print as a ready reference: Best Practice Action List for Team Retention
Team retention best practice action list
Quarter 1 – Jan to Mar
- Introduce team shout outs into a weekly meeting
- Schedule your first team event for quarter 2
- Before the end of the quarter conduct a salary review of every team member and roll out pay rises
- Prepare for performance reviews in quarter 2 and book them in
- Identify key team members who are part of your succession plan
Quarter 2 – Apr to Jun
- Commence performance reviews in quarter 2
- Make a time each week (or fortnight at least) to provide individual feedback to each team member
- Hold a team event in quarter 2 and schedule a team event for quarter 3
- For team members who are part of your succession plan, develop and present a career plan and/or a development plan to them
Quarter 3 – Jul to Sept
- Complete all performance reviews early in quarter 3
- Hold a team event in quarter 3
- Conduct a second 2022 salary review of every team member and roll out pay rises
- Build a training plan for all junior team members
Quarter 4 – Oct to Dec
- Consider conducting a team survey to review the year and prepare for 2023
- Revisit all performance reviews and determine what follow up items need to be addressed or actioned
- Review all development plans and ensure each individual’s development is on track
Team Shout Outs
This is one of the easiest initiatives to implement. At your weekly meeting, toolbox talk or in a weekly email or text to the team, acknowledge team members on an action they have taken in the past week.
Do this in front of the team so everyone gets to hear about it. Don’t wait for major successes, such as the delivery of a big project.
Team shout outs are often best done if they are incidental actions that would otherwise go unnoticed. For example, one of your team received a compliment from a client or a team member picked up a small mistake in an order before it was sent out.
30 seconds acknowledging the person and their action is all it takes. These shout outs will reinforce strong workplaces where there is already a good culture.
Note: you don’t need to provide gifts or rewards in addition to the shout out. Keep the focus on those great behaviours being part of your culture, not an opportunity to “win stuff”. Employees want to feel that what they do matters.
Feedback is different to a shout out in that it’s delivered one on one. Individual feedback can be both positive and improvement-oriented. It is best delivered in a ratio of 3 to 1; that means 3 instances of positive feedback to one instance of improvement-oriented feedback.
The best way to deliver positive feedback is to start with the line, “Well done on …”. Be specific and explain why what they did matters.
The best way to deliver improvement-oriented feedback is to start with “Can I suggest that next time you ___”. Avoid being critical of the person, instead focus on the behaviour you want.
Interestingly, quality team members embrace improvement-oriented feedback; they strive to know how to improve their performance. If delivered correctly, it can be a powerful tool for retention.
Get a copy of your payroll report and assess the wages of each team member. Do some research on Seek.com.au for the salaries of comparable roles using the salary band filter under the search box. Review the Hays Salary Guide: Hays Salary Guide FY21-22
A salary review doesn’t need to be part of a performance review, so be proactive and approach the relevant team members with good news of their salary review as soon as you’ve made the decision.
A proactive approach is often valued by employees more than a reactive one. In fact, research by Harvard shows that employees perceive a pay rise to be worth more when it is unexpected than when it is provided as part of a performance review.
When you have a team event, it increases the glue that binds your team together. There is something about a shared experience in a social setting – especially one where you’re trying to achieve a common goal – that creates bonds that then carry back into the workplace.
At Tenfold we’ve held team events such as; an axe throwing competition, a 3 course cooking class, a painting and wine tasting class, an escape room experience and a pottery class. You could also do a golf day or a go kart afternoon.
While some of these events naturally lend themselves to competition, try to select an event that has people working together or at least encouraging each other – this is the key to a successful team event.
I suggest shutting the office or factory early one day and having your fun activity after lunch or in the late afternoon.
Many companies consider doing performance reviews, but not many do them regularly and even fewer follow through on the outcomes. A performance review is simply a dedicated time in which you run through a series of questions with a team member one on one, giving them feedback on their KPIs and performance, and getting their impression of their role and the broader company.
There are many different templates and methodologies for doing performance reviews, but the most important thing is to pick one and complete the reviews.
Performance reviews do take considerable time to prepare, but I’ve always found that they are a good investment of that time.
I also suggest that you explain to your team that a performance review is separate from a salary review, and then complete them at different times. In a performance review you want to have an open and honest discussion, and it works best if your team member isn’t jockeying to get a pay rise out of the discussion.
Speak to your coach about which method might be best for your team.
Team surveys enable you to get feedback on the company, and they generally work well in teams larger than 10 people. Importantly, they prove to your team that you are interested in their thoughts and that you are going to the effort of listening to them.
Surveys can be done online (with tools like Google Forms) and the results can be combined. Questions can include: “How would you describe the level and quality of communication between you and your co-workers?” or “How engaged are you in the vision of the company?”.
Simply distributing a team survey isn’t enough; you must also communicate the results to your whole team in a presentation and then implement the ideas that you have decided to adopt.
Again, like performance reviews, they take time to prepare but are a worthwhile investment.
Your Tenfold coach can help you prepare a team survey that’s appropriate for your business.
Development plans detail the exact behaviours that someone needs to adopt to lift their performance to the next level. They are often created in advance of promoting someone and are important to allow you to clearly explain what is required from the individual before they’ll be ready for promotion into a senior role or management position.
The plan outlines the current behaviours and attitude and then defines the required behaviour and attitude. By setting it out this way, the individual is enrolled in the process of improving. Mentoring is required in addition to the plan to assist the team member to make the transition.
Training plans identify the course that will provide the skills and/or knowledge a team member needs to be able to fulfil their role.
A training plan is tailored to each individual and is used when someone is transitioning roles or when there is a clear skills or knowledge gap – often for junior members of the team.
The training can involve online video courses, inhouse mentoring, self-paced learning and external classroom courses and are generally varied based upon the learning style of the individual and the required learning outcomes.
A career plan outlines the next 2 stages in an individual’s career that the business would like them to take in the coming 3 to 5 years.
It gives the individual confidence that the business is committed to their career development over the long term and is prepared to back this up with appropriate uplifts in their salary. It outlines the likely next two roles and the timeframes for their transition.
Many progressive companies are hiring a dedicated HR assistant in 2022 (often in preference to a salesperson) to help drive these retention initiatives. Consider your business and the benefits you’ll see in 2022 and beyond if you invest the time, effort and money in retaining your team this year.
Ashley Thomson B.Eng. (Hons), Grad. Dip. Mgmt, MEI
Tenfold Business Coaching