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Curbing the Talent Drain: HR’s role in keeping high performers

HR professionals everywhere want to know how to put in place winning HR practices. These are approaches that create a workplace environment that attracts and retains high-performing employees.

Numerous studies have been carried out across a variety of industries that indicate that there is one common element shared by all successful firms: placing a high value on developing a quality workforce.

Employees today want to be well compensated for their contributions, of course. But what they really value are work environments and positions that allow them to grow and develop.

In normal work situations, there are two types of employee turnover that can be identified: unavoidable and avoidable.

Unavoidable turnover results from life decisions that extend beyond an employer’s control, such as a decision to move to a new area or a job transfer for a spouse.
Avoidable turnover is something organisations can take certain steps to prevent by hiring, evaluating and motivating their employees more effectively.

All HR professionals know that management should focus on preserving top talent and reducing turnover rates by taking proactive measures before it is too late. But it is one thing for HR to know that. It is quite another to ensure that managers at every level implement such an approach.

Some of the practical steps that HR can initiate, in virtually all organisations, in order to keep high-performing individuals, include:

• Hire the Right Person in the first place:Most avoidable turnover is due to issues of “chemistry” or “fit” within an organisation. HR leaders have a responsibility to ensure that their company adopts the strategy of “hire for fit, train for skill.” By doing a thorough analysis of the success factors required for a position, the responsible parties can be better prepared to conduct a behavioural-based interview process.

• Integrate for Success:The first few weeks of employment are usually a critical time to lay the groundwork for long-term employee commitment. Turnover can be cut dramatically by implementing a thorough, well-executed orientation program. Demonstrating employer commitment early-on to a new person’s success, does a great deal to foster trust and commitment from the employee.

• Phase in Training:When a new employee is recruited, there is always a steep learning curve. It is better not to overload people too soon. It can be a major turn off. It is much better to let recruits build their experience level over time. Then they can take on more training when they are better equipped to absorb the learnings.

• Provide Growth Opportunities:  For many workers, and especially for younger people, what they learn is more important than what they earn. In the 21st century, people are very conscious of personal growth opportunities. If you don’t offer options that allow people to grow, you don’t keep them. It’s that simple.

Of course, in some situations, the surest way of keeping the best employees is to pay them what they’re worth. Salary is always an important factor and in some cases it is the defining factor. It is the role of the Human Resources specialists within any business to know what motivates particular workers.

With regard to money, some commentators say that because high performers can more easily find alternative employment when compared to their lesser-performing colleagues, their turnover is more highly dependent on how satisfied they are with their job, and job satisfaction in large part, depends on salary growth.

Another important issue relating to keeping staff, is perceived fairness.

In some organisations there is a lack of connection between pay and contribution. The difference in contribution between a top performer and a below-average performer at the same grade can be well over 100% yet, the typical pay difference may be around 10%.

There are also many situations where younger employees contribute more to the company than older employees but they make less money. These sort of glaring discrepancies, can have a major impact on turnover rates – and it is the higher performers who are most likely to walk out.

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