shutterstock_107632895_smAn improving economy and a more buoyant jobs market naturally makes it harder for employers to hold on to their best people. So, with talent retention a big concern for HR, what can employers and HR do to tie down their top talent?

While no employer wants to keep an unhappy member of staff or someone that desperately wants a new challenge elsewhere, I suspect that a high number of those saying they intend to move jobs in 2015 don’t fall into either of those camps. These are the people who we can and should be trying to reach.

But what can be done to prevent to prevent your talented people from having their head turned by a job offer?

1. Understand their motivations

People don’t move jobs for no reason. In order to lower your staff turnover, you need to pinpoint the reasons people choose to move on and then address those reasons. This could be done by putting in place a more structured leaver’s survey to ask people about their choices for leaving and then act on what they’re telling you.

Of course, this is a retrospective action. There are, though, a number of things you can look at proactively that will likely increase overall employee engagement and, crucially, people’s intention to stay.

2. Provide interesting, meaningful work

Given that estimates suggest we spend, on average, over half of our waking lives at work, it’s hardly surprising we want to be stimulated while we’re there! In the simplest terms, this means aligning peoples’ skills and interests with their role and the overall business goals.
Employees today need to understand the big picture – what their employer stands for and what the mission is. Then they need to know that the part they’re playing works towards the final goal. This is where meaning can be found.

3. Offer career development

None of us wants to feel as if we’re standing still in career terms. It’s therefore important that every employee has a clear development path. You need to help them map this out and offer clarity around what opportunities exist to move laterally or upwards and what they need to do in order to achieve this progression.

But career development isn’t just about getting a promotion. It’s about helping people to learn, to develop their skills and capabilities and offering them greater responsibility and new challenges. This is particularly relevant for smaller businesses where there perhaps aren’t more senior roles for them to move into.

4. Give generously with rewards and recognition

Employees feeling they are fairly rewarded and that their efforts are recognised is crucial to engaging and retaining them. While increased pay isn’t the top reason why people leave their role, it’s of course, a factor. But organisations need to look beyond basic pay to satisfy employees’ need for reward and recognition. What else will help you keep your best talent in the business?

You should identify what’s most important to your employees – is it health & wellbeing? If so, you could offer subsidised gym membership or a contribution towards their chosen pursuit. Or is it a better work-life balance? If that’s the case, could you offer more flexible working arrangements or increase their annual leave allowance.

Ben Egan is a consultant specialising in communications strategies at UK-based HR consultancy and bespoke technology firm ETS. ETS are experts in employee engagement, development and performance appraisal working with major global businesses including PepsiCo, Tesco and Vodafone.