A few weeks ago, I shared insights on hiring as part of LinkedIn’s #HowIHire series, which prompted a number of commenters, including @TheRedBrand, to ask about what it actually takes to retain the people you hire. And so, as I often do on matters of talent, I turned to career expert Stacy Lauren Musi, a Managing Director at executive search firm, Chadick Ellig, Inc., for her insights on this topic.
The key to retaining employees is to understand what motivates them, says Stacy. And, the motivations and drivers of engagement are not the same for everybody, and employees’ priorities may change at different points in a career. “For example, some people are very driven by monetary rewards,” she explained, “so providing performance-based financial incentives is an obvious way to retain employees who are focused on the amount of their paycheck or bonus.”
So what do you do when an employee is not primarily motivated by money, or when the company does not have additional money to spend as a retention device? Use recognition, says Stacy. “Many employees – particularly many women – are motivated by recognition. A token of appreciation, such as a dinner or tickets to a show, go a long way to say ‘thank you’ for a job well done. And don’t underestimate the power of non-monetary rewards, such as extra time off or a company award. Even bestowing compliments in front of colleagues can go a long way.”
Some people need to feel that they are being challenged and progressing their career. When people are focused on growth, Stacy recommends making it a priority to provide them with developmental opportunities, such as sending them for training and professional education and/or providing them with an internal mentor. If a promotion is not readily available, consider putting them on a special project or task force, or give them an opportunity to move laterally as a way of broadening their scope.
Another important factor in retaining great talent, believes Stacy, is to create an enjoyable work environment. “People are motivated to stay with a company when they feel they have a supportive boss, they believe in the mission of the organization, and they have faith in the company’s future,” she added, “so it’s important for managers to communicate good news and let everyone feel a part of the company’s success.” Contests, company parties or outings, or other fun team activities also provide great opportunities for people to bond with each other. She continued, “When people wake up and want to go to work every day because of the camaraderie and spirit of community they feel, that is probably the most powerful retention strategy!”
A number of Citi colleagues I spoke with echoed Stacy’s sentiments. Digital marketer Geoffrey Sanders made an interesting point about role of trust in retention. “I think the ‘quality’ of an employee’s relationship with his/her manager (and an organization) is almost entirely driven by trust…trust that your manager has your back, trust that he/she is looking out for you and your development, and trust that you can say anything to your manager and get an honest answer,” explained Geoff, adding, “For managers, that means you need to build that culture within your team, and focus on maintaining it particularly in times of challenge or adversity. For employees, that means you need to look for managers with whom you can have that relationship, not just interesting roles or new parts of the business.”
For Jessica Marquez Elizondo, who works in Citi’s Banamex subsidiary, what keeps her engaged is pretty simple: a passion for the work she does; strong work ethic and personal responsibility; a healthy work environment; being treated with respect and knowing that her work is valued; and ongoing feedback and coaching.
What makes you hesitate when a recruiter calls you about an opportunity outside your company?
Linda Descano- Managing Director and Head of Content & Social at Citi