Make Your Workplace Culture Impossible To Leave

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Retain the talented people your organisation needs through strategic succession planning, internal promotion and job role benchmarking.

retain your talented people

We’re not suggesting that you bolt the doors and refuse to let anyone leave the building. Instead, retain the people who drive success by creating and elevating a workplace culture that knocks spots off others who might compete for your top performers.

In addition to strong relationships and sound leadership, a healthy workplace culture should include opportunities for growth, career progression, and a clear commitment to the long-term development of its people.

RETAIN through strategic succession planning

Demonstrate that your people have a future in your organisation worth staying for. Nobody stays in an organisation for retail vouchers or gym memberships. Flexible working is of course a strong draw, but these days it isn’t likely to be unique to your organisation. What will activate loyalty however, is the knowledge that your organisation has a strategic approach to career development through succession planning, and that anyone with the appropriate talent, attitude and skills can be part of the plan.

Your people need to see that there is an inclusive and clear pathway to progress. Those who want to embark on this journey should expect the organisation to support them, optimise their skills and encourage development in areas they find challenging.

Identify talent at every level of your organisation. This doesn’t just apply to leadership potential. Not everyone wants to be, or should be, a leader. Product and service experts should also be included in your succession planning strategy, otherwise you could lose all of that valuable experience, knowledge and skills to your competitors. Sideways moves which redeploy people into other areas of the organisation are also hugely valuable. They allow you to retain your loyal people and give them the opportunities to upskill and grow in a different direction.

Organisations can’t promote everyone. There will always be high-performing employees who want to get promoted in situations where promotion isn’t possible or requires waiting. This creates a problem for managers who want to retain top talent; a recent survey found the number one reason for voluntary employee departures is a lack of career mobility.

Carrie Ott-Holland and Mengyang Cao, HBR 4 January 2023

RETAIN through sound internal promotion

Promote the right people. Not those with the loudest voices or the biggest personalities. Especially avoid promoting people in your own image, simply because how they look/sound/behave feels safely familiar.

Too often, people are overpromoted, resulting in poor leadership, fractured team relationships and ultimately avoidable attrition. Promote on merit, not (for example) sales results that do not reflect leadership potential. If promoting into a leadership role, ensure that you have identified the required skills and personality traits that the role requires. Past individual performance could well be the least important indicator of potential leadership success. Instead, look at how they work with the fellow team members. Do they have good-natured, respectful and productive relationships, or do they run roughshod over their peers? If the latter, no matter how stellar their sales figures, there is a good chance that the promotion to a leadership role will not be popular. Just watch any episode of The Apprentice to see this in action.

Internal promotion decisions should give confidence to anyone that will be impacted by the move. Stakeholders should feel that the decision is sound, fairly made and taken in the best interest of the team. Internal promotion is an opportunity to help those at an earlier career stage to believe that they too can benefit from a fit for purpose promotion strategy.

By moving to a skill-based hiring model, organisations can identify talent who have the foundational skills required for a job—and then invest in upskilling these 'near-skill' candidates into the specific skills required for the job. Organisations with skill-based models find that they are able to widen the front-end of the hiring funnel to attract more applicants, build more internal mobility pathways for current employees, and attract a more diverse set of employees.

Bryan Hancock & Asutosh Padhi, McKinsey & Co 3 Jan 2023

RETAIN by benchmarking your talent pipeline

Succession planning/internal promotion is dependent on the effective benchmarking of job roles that may evolve over time and individual development plans to work towards those job role requirements.

As your people progress through your organisation, employers should have a plan to seamlessly fill their places. This is why it is vital to identify and develop talent at every level. Look even to your most junior ranks. Who, with mentoring and skills training, could be a potential team lead or confident product expert in two years time? At the other end of the spectrum, who could bring the value of their years of experience, loyalty and transferable skills to a new role?

Strengthen your talent pipeline to ensure that you always have a talent pool from which to select when opportunities arise. It’s important, however, not to allow this to morph into a cutthroat, dog-eat dog, hyper-competitive culture (again we’re referencing The Apprentice as a worst case scenario). You’ll need to emphasise the need for a flourishing team culture based on mutual respect. The ability/skill of treating their co-workers fairly is an important indicator of how successful an individual will be in a leadership role. And for those who do not want (or ought not) to lead, there should be an effective recognition strategy which recognises their contribution and inspires ongoing excellence.

"As many organisations look to reinvent their business, their focus is often on technology and data. Yet we know the real difference-maker is people ... Especially in a constrained labor market, investing in people and their skills is a key source of competitive differentiation."

Ellyn Shook, Accenture’s chief leadership and human resources officer

Work with Holst to make your organisation impossible to leave

We help organisations to recruit, develop and retain the talented people it needs to drive success. Your workplace culture glues your people to your organisation, its values and goals. Work with us to create a culture, which all your people are proud to be part of.

Contact us to learn more.

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