Industry Updates

The choices you make around staff retention strategies

24 Feb 2016

If Staff Stay or Go in 2016…

Isilumko Activate Director, Lauren Durant

At the start of every year, organisations are faced with resignations when staff who waited for their 13th cheque return from leave, only to hand in their resignation. With all signs pointing to a difficult year ahead, what is it that will cause your staff to jump ship in 2016? Is it in search of greener pastures as the price of living escalates beyond their salary – or will it be other internal factors that cause them to quit? These are the questions leadership must consider as the year starts to unfold.

One possibility is that as the economy slows down, staff might be tempted to move for very small salary increments. Leaders must therefore invest time in making sure their staff understand the value of staying and of loyalty. Many juniors may not be aware of FIFO (first in first out) and planning a career path around this thinking will be critical in an economically unstable work environment.  So when the fight for top talent is greater than ever, what can be done to avoid “resignation season”?

One proven way of gathering insights into why employees leave – is to conduct exit interviews. But while exit interviews may be effective, in some ways they are too late. A different step towards retention is to understand why some employees remain with a company, and this can be achieved by staging interviews with longer tenured employees (with the company for three or more years).

Consider asking these questions informally in face-to-face “staff satisfaction” interviews:

  • Why did you come to work here?
  • Why have you stayed?
  • What would make you leave?
  • What are your ‘non-negotiable’ employment considerations? What about your managers?
  • What would you change or improve?
Employees require a careful balance of different factors, often beyond financial, to feel truly satisfied and to remain with an organisation.  “Staff satisfaction” interview insights should be up played during interviews with potential candidates being considered for hire.  This information could also be worked into staff development plans that assist employees in reaching their own goals – be it a skill objective or a promotion.While the insights will vary per company and individual, the common themes (the glue that keeps people in companies) likely to emerge, include:
  • Colleagues
  • Strong leadership
  • The culture of the organisation / department they work in
  • A caring environment
  • Flexibility in scheduling personal time off
  • Rewards and recognition
  • Small perks
  • An environment which increases confidence and motivation
  • The opportunities for internal promotion and employee career development and the communication of the opportunities that exist for advancement
Remuneration only serves short-term motivational triggers because as humans we need so much more than just economic satisfaction. Organisations must therefore address the often overlooked retention factors outside of remuneration that will ultimately succeed in securing long-term commitment from staff.

Few organisations would argue with the need for talent management. The problem is that organisations often focus so much on what the high potential employee needs to do to meet the business’s needs, that they lose sight of what the organisation needs to do to meet the employee’s needs. This is obviously crucial to be effective in engaging and managing the talent within the business and high performing employees are at risk of leaving the company if never told there are exciting career opportunities available to them.

Organisations interested in success have robust talent development programmes that interweave coaching and mentoring within the overall talent strategy. Targeted coaching by a skilled career coach can be extremely effective and help an employee maximise personal performance – the potential for which was already there. Career coaching can help employees develop a clearer sense of career direction giving them a sense of where they are going in the future; a more accurate understanding and appreciation of their abilities and potential (self-insight); increased clarity, confidence and motivation (soft skills that go a long way towards empowering the individual); and a better grasp of the career options open to them and resources available to help them achieve their goals.

The majority of talent programmes will also use mentoring as a complementary learning method with coaching. Mentoring is a powerful tool for individuals who want to learn and grow within an organisation, particularly when moving or preparing to move into a new role, or taking on new responsibilities. It also builds employee confidence.

While options for the improvement of an organisational culture are many and varied, with a tough year ahead it is important to take into account ways to hold onto staff.Whatever the approach, staff retention is about understanding and working with the disruptive forces that are shaping the future world of work.

About Isilumko Activate
Isilumko Activate (powered by Studentwise) is a company focused on facilitating creative, integrated one-on-one interactions between a brand and the consumer. With impressive credentials built up over almost 23 years in the in the industry, this level 2 BBBEE accredited company has a rock-solid reputation that attracts and retains staff that are as passionate about activations as the company’s original founder members. For details visit:

About Lauren Durant
Lauren Durant is Director at Isilumko Activate. She’s been with the company since its inception over two decades ago, and has contributed significantly to the evolution of the business to one of the market leaders in the activations space. Durant spends much of her time with clients, understanding their needs and assisting in the development of cutting edge activations strategies. Parallel to this, she mentors members of the team to do the same, often lauding the value of co-operation and communication – all of which contributes customer-centric culture of the organisation which is built from the heart and soul of its people.

Drafted and distributed by SIMONSAYS communications and to contact for further information:
Melanie Stevens
011 465-9815
083 303 9667