Towards the end of the year, many employers face a shrinking workforce, with the high turnover associated with this period often disrupting growth plans.
Departures can also affect morale. They also draw away customers whose loyalty is placed with an employee rather than with the company.
This is the worst challenge an employer can face, especially if the worker is leaving to join a competitor.
It is every company’s desire to attract and retain top talent, but what does it take to attract and keep a highly skilled workforce?
Companies need to anticipate their talent requirements and build a brand in the marketplace that attracts a high calibre of worker.
“To attract the best people, you must also market yourself as the best. A firm’s rating lies in its brand value earned through brand building initiatives. People will often opt to work for less in a reputable firm than earn better salary at a firm that does not have a strong brand,” says Mr Raymond Muthama, Talent Manager, KPMG East Africa.
An organisation that brands itself as an employer of choice is likely to attract top performing employees better than a weak brand.
“A company can secure the best skills in the market by branding itself the company of choice and by meeting employees’ demands.
Businesses must offer competitive salaries and benefits and provide opportunities for professional development.
Top talent is susceptible to competitors’ recruitment strategies. Among the commonly suggested reasons for job-hopping is remuneration, which is common across all industries.
“Top workers have high expectations, including core values both in word and practice, a grand vision, an inspiring mission and market leadership,” says Mr Albert Wambugu, the human resources manager at CIC Insurance Company.
According to human capital experts, other than effective branding, hiring policy should also be designed to draw top talent at the initial stage of recruitment.
It is not enough to have structured oral interviews. Have a system that ensures you have the right people for various jobs.
Additional requirements and strategies such as diversity and experience will follow.
“Cross-selling and collaborations will also help a company to fish for expertise in the diaspora. Build presence, maybe through “partner” firms globally to tap talent in foreign countries,” adds Mr Muthama.
Attracting talent is not the only challenge. Companies internal structures matter, including prospects of professional growth, work environment and career satisfaction, among others.
Top performing employees are always seeking opportunities to upgrade their skills, increase productivity and retain their relevance in a certain profession.
By ensuring that these issues are addressed to fit the needs of the employees, not only does a company retain its motivated staff but it is also likely to attract fresh talent from the market.
“What happens within a firm largely dictates how far it can keep its star workers. Provision for clear growth opportunities, room for creativity and innovation, recognition of efforts and an established reward system are some of the ways a company can retain skill,” adds Mr Wambugu.
Investment in qualitative strategies such as open communication systems, fair practices, especially when rewarding performance in addition to investing in programmes meant to groom young workers for bigger roles in the company are essential.
Open communication allows free flow of information from the management to the employees and vice- versa, hence creating a feeling of involvement and appreciation among them.
“Quantitative strategies address the issue of remuneration which largely determines how long such a firm can retain the worker. It is advisable that you start by having a competitive pay package by benchmarking against the market and competition. Other benefits that an employer wishes to extend to employees can then follow,” says Muthama.
Failure to put in place relevant policies for acquisition and retention of top performers will see an employer constantly contending with high staff turnover and low productivity, which would be an indication of weak retention strategies.