The Importance Of Retaining Top Talent

With increasing competition for top talent, business cannot afford to lose their current employees to other organisations.

Businesses still focus more on acquiring good candidates with the right skills, but often still fail to retain these valuable individuals once appointed to their new roles. Not only is scouting for and hiring talent costly, but the training and orientation of new hires too comes with its own inherent costs in terms of both time and resources spent.

In this article, Kay Vittee of Quest ( looks at the challenges surrounding staff retention and its importance as an ongoing business imperative. She also shares her top tips on how businesses can ensure that they retain their top talent through securing employee buy-in and loyalty.

The Importance Of Retaining Top Talent
Despite increasing emphasis on organisations implementing measures to retain top talent, very few organisations consider the financial implications of losing employees, opting to rather see it as an opportunity to cut the excess baggage when it comes to unhappy, underperforming staff.

A recent survey by Deloitte interestingly found that around two-thirds of millennial employees have expressed a desire to leave their organisations by 2020*. In South Africa alone, 76% of millennials plan to leave their current employers before 2020*. This worryingly means that our next generational leaders already have one foot out of the door.

The real cost of high staff turnover
The reality is that poor staff retention negatively impacts not only employee morale, but also productivity and therefore ultimately your organisation’s bottom-line. Additionally, getting a new hire which includes advertising the position, interviewing the candidate, screening and hiring, can prove costly. Furthermore, the new staff member will need to undergo on-boarding, training and be managed, all of which consume valuable time and resources.

Compensating on the productivity backlog caused by high staff turnover cannot however be done overnight, and realistically speaking, optimising lost productivity can take up to two years.

Organisations also need to be aware of and understand the impact of poor staff retention on other employees – whose engagement will understandably be experiencing a downward trajectory as they witness fellow co-workers opting out on a regular basis. And while high employee turnover comes with a hefty price tag, it is still not always easy for companies to accurately track the real costs involved when it comes to employees regularly coming and going.

Employee retention requires ongoing interventions
And while employee retention is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges facing organisations today, without implementing appropriate measures to retain staff, organisations will soon find themselves on the losing side in the war to secure top talent.

Here are some ways to minimise the potential impact of poor staff retention:
• Ensure the right hire from inception by being stringent during your interviewing and vetting processes. It is important that you make sure candidates are the right fit when it comes to company culture, and their team fit with management and co-workers, before you consider their skill set, no matter how impressive it may be.
• Be fair and consistent when it comes to compensation benefits available to your employees. Rewarding staff need not only be limited to financial incentives, and can for instance include flexible working hours, travel vouchers, or the opportunity to attend additional training courses. Employees who work flexible hours are more likely to stay with a company for longer. This allows them to invest their time in their families, studies and other personal interests.
• Publically acknowledging that your employees are valued and appreciated. This can be done by offering them real-time recognition that celebrates their successes and their efforts will go a long way in promoting staff loyalty.
• Promote a positive working environment, employee optimism nearly always translates into job satisfaction, which in turn means less sick leave, absenteeism and improved overall productivity. Provide employees with opportunities for success and personal growth, make them feel valued and part of the organisation, recognise and reward them, and create trust.
• Keep the lines of communication open, to ensure you foster good relationships with employees. To achieve this, encourage an open-door policy where employees feel comfortable addressing personal issues with you whether they be work related or personal.
• Employees, especially millennials, enjoy receiving positive feedback. Here something as simple as an email of thanks or praise at the completion of a project goes a long way in promoting staff morale. When it comes to promoting a team oriented culture it’s also a good idea to introduce monthly memos outlining team achievements as well as peer-recognition programmes that further enforce individual contributions.

When it comes to millennials and Generation Z, always bear in mind that they are driven by challenging, meaningful work that has a tangible impact in the world and workplace. They are innovative and ambitious, and like to be stretched all while working independently on engaging assignments that allow them to optimise and innovate in the business. For these generations money is a secondary consideration and they are instead driven by having a set purpose and making a difference in the workplace. Taking time to understand and speak their language will most certainly assist in building a productive and loyal workforce.

Ultimately you cannot stop each and every resignation, however through implementing proper hiring processes, and strategic employee management practices backed by appropriate reward and incentive programmes, you can ensure that your organisation experiences highs in terms of productivity and retention as opposed to lows.

Author: Kay Vittee, Quest (Source:



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