How to Hang on to your Talent
The one thing I hear over and over is how challenging it is to get and keep talent. Don’t follow this lead if you want to hang onto your talent…
It upset me to hear what had happened to my friend’s daughter. She had what seemed like a lovely opportunity at a local 5 star hotel. But when I asked how she was getting on my friend told me she’d left. Why? Because they kept messing her about. She’d been given her schedule for the weeks over Christmas and New Year and she’d planned her family Christmas activities around this.
So, when they told her they no longer needed her to work on the days she’d been scheduled but they did want her to cover on other days this meant cancelling family commitments.
She is young and keen and didn’t want to disappoint her employer, but after several weeks of this, enough was enough. So, she quit. Not only is she now disillusioned with the industry but so are her friends and family.
Of course, staff turnover doesn’t just impact you, it has a knock-on effect on the rest of your team and will certainly impact your customer experience either directly or indirectly.
If you are constantly striving to look for new staff then consider why you have a vacancy in the first place. Fantastic news if it’s down to growth; but more often than not it’s down to staff turnover.
If this is the case here are a few factors to consider to help hang on to your talent…
1. Why do they quit?
Staff turnover can be infectious, the more people come and go, the easier it is for others to make the decision to leave. Unless you understand why staff leave it’s unlikely you’ll reverse the trend.
In a perfect world a confidential exit interview is best done by someone other than a line manager. Let’s be honest, if the reason is poor management or leadership that’s behind them leaving, it’s unlikely that you’re going to learn the whole truth if the line manager is asking the question! The saying goes people don’t quit jobs they quit bosses.
But even if your staff structure doesn’t allow for this it is important to find out as much as possible about people’s motives for leaving.
2. Recognition and reward
When someone hands in their notice, if the reason they give is more money look to see how your rates compare with the competition (bearing in mind for some roles your competitor for staff may be in totally different industries). But also look at what benefits your staff are getting that they may not be getting elsewhere and ensure people are aware of everything that makes up their package. And if they don’t value these things, find out what they would value.
What about the less tangible aspects of their package? Recognise and reward performance and achievements. Celebrate and share successes; identify and utilise people’s strengths, training, delegating and giving them control and ownership where appropriate.
Be sure to recognise all departments, including back of house staff, e.g. housekeeping is often the most undervalued department, but is commonly the most profitable aspect of a hotel.
Encourage and reward loyalty by conducting regular pay/benefits reviews. Think about incentives that are within reach of any member of staff who performs well. This might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has an opportunity to be recognised for their particular skills or strengths, or make the incentive tailored to each individual dependent on their role, development needs and aspirations.
3. Career and prospects
If they’re moving for career progression, is this something you could have given them but they simply weren’t aware of the opportunities? What can you do in future to ensure that everyone gets the recognition and development they need for their career progression, so you can hang on to your talent?
Grow from within where possible, and give people the opportunity for career progression as well is enhancing the skills to do their existing job. Consider life skills; such as offering language tuition for English as a second language or other languages that may prove useful in conversing with your customers.
Make use of potential grants through the tourist organisations, colleges, and government-funded schemes, apprenticeships. Did you know this week is National Apprenticeship Week? https://www.gov.uk/government/news/look-beyond-with-an-apprenticeship-this-national-apprenticeship-week
You won’t be able to accommodate everyone’s aspirations particularly if you’re a small business, but having some kind of succession plan in place does at least give people something to work towards. However, don’t make promises that you’re unable to keep.
Make learning and development a part of day-to-day management, so it’s not seen as something that is additional or optional. This goes for both staff and supervisors/managers. Identify those who have an interest in developing their skills and are willing to take on coaching or mentoring responsibilities as part of their own development.
Change makes people uncomfortable, and so when another opportunity comes along, they jump at the chance if they feel it has better long-term security.
Communicate what’s happening in the business before it happens, and how this might affect them.
Ensure people know what’s expected of them by having clearly defined standards, and can measure their own performance, and not left in doubt about their contribution. Be consistent, ensuring the same ‘rules’ apply to everyone. Focus on telling people what you want to achieve, i.e. the end result, rather than dictating how to do it. This gives people flexibility to adopt their own style (you’ll be surprised how often they end up improving the process) rather than living in fear of not being able to comply with strict processes. Provide the appropriate resources (including time), the tools and training to do their jobs effectively.
Training your staff in the mechanics of the business operation puts them in a better position to contribute to cost control and income generation. If people understand how the business makes its money they are then in a position to contribute to this and put forward their own ideas. A win-win for both.
5. What if you are the problem?
You may not want to admit it, but you or your management team may be the very reason people leave. Rather than hide your head in the sand, reflect on what you need to do to change to hang on to your talent. Find out the things that people find difficult or frustrating about working for you or with you, and then figure out a way to change your approach before others decide to jump ship.
How much direction do you provide? Do people know exactly what’s expected of them, and have the resources to meet your expectations? Lead by example so there are no mixed messages.
Ensure that you and your management team are approachable and provide any support when it’s needed
Not everyone will be confident enough to ask for help, so be receptive to when this is needed. Listen to their ideas; they may be able to offer better ways of doing things.
Show an interest in them as individuals, and take time out to talk to them. Listen to and act quickly on any concerns. Identify what’s important to them recognising that with the varied cultures and backgrounds of your staff that their values and priorities may sometimes be different to your own.
6. Keep talking
Communication is a two-way process, not only do people need to know what’s going on, they want to be heard. Daily briefings need to include what’s happening that could affect the operation or the customer experience in any way (e.g. maintenance, staff shortages, unavailable products or services), as well as any feedback from staff on their observations or ideas. Let your team know how the business is performing, and what this means to them.
Give constructive feedback: what have they done well and how it has contributed; where they have fallen short and how this can be improved.
Having a happy and motivated team will not only help you retain your talent and reduce staff turnover, but will lead to better productivity and customer service, maintaining sales and controlling costs.
If you want to hang onto your talent you need to give them what they want.
Take action to hang onto your talent
If you only do one thing, to hang on to your talent, find out what’s important to your team and how well you’re meeting their needs and expectations. One of the most valuable ways to gather this feedback is through anonymous surveys. This is a brilliant platform to do just that…
Get a complete engagement assessment that delivers quantifiable scores and honest feedback, so that you truly know where your company stands and where to focus to make an impact right away.
…And hang on to your talent.