Imagine what a difference it would make if you could keep your key staff! When you think of it like that, it’s obvious that investing in a good retention strategy more than pays itself back. So here’s a menu of nine of my top ways you can hold onto your employees:

1.     Ownership schemes – if your employees have a stake in the business then that ties their interests to the company’s performance. And it’s a virtuous circle - improved performance will typically mean their shares become worth more making it harder for them to leave. EMI share schemes are a proven way to tie senior employees into the business helping day to day revenue without paying out dividends before an exit and, correctly structured, making the business more valuable to investors.

2.     Staggered bonus systems – paying out bonuses in single lump sums will see employees often resign the day after a pay out. Staggering bonuses or commission payments means that employees will always be forfeiting money they will feel they have earned if they leave meaning that there is never be a good time to walk away.

3.     Social purpose (CSR) – companies with a social purpose enjoy better retention rates. This is particularly true with firms looking to engage with generation Y who expect employers to make a positive difference to society.

4.     Social budget – the bonds between employees that come from a positive team atmosphere make it much harder for other employers to tempt your team away. Social activity is indispensable in building these bonds.

5.     Lifestyle career options – the traditional nine 'til five role is changing.  Employees look for careers that can fit around their lifestyles and modern technologies. Employers able to offer flexible, remote or other lifestyle career options will enjoy higher retention rates and will find a rich pool of underexploited talent in flexible workers such as part time parents.

6.     Career development plans – a formal career progression plan gives staff confidence that they will be rewarded if they achieve their targets and so reduces the urge to look outside the company for career progression.

7.     Marketing, training, admin and tech support – the more support employees have to thrive in their jobs the more they will recognise the company’s investment in its success. Reducing admin, delivering visible marketing support and offering plenty of training gives employees confidence that they have the tools they need to perform to the best of their abilities making them feel valued.

8.     Sabbaticals – offering your staff the opportunity to take an extended break if they hit agreed targets can both be a motivator and help to reinvigorate them.

9.     Training grants – supporting staff with their career goals by funding their training shows a commitment to helping them develop. Many companies will cover the cost of external training courses to support employees’ development but with the provision that if the employee leaves within a certain period of time after the training finishes then they need to repay the cost of the training.

Alex Arnot is non-executive director to 35 companies.

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