“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”​ –Richard Branson

Oct 6, 2021

I wrote a short post on retention last week and it received a lot of interest so I thought I would go into a bit more detail in an article.

If you are an employer within the data centre sector then you need to thinking about retention. The market is moving fast and the war for talent is well and truly in full swing. A quote I like regarding this is as follows;

“Start the retention process when the person is still open to staying and not after they’ve already told you they’re leaving.”

We have all been there – A key employer resigns because they have a better offer elsewhere and you then start the process of trying to keep them. At this stage it is normally too late.

I am sure you all spend hours working on your customer retention strategies, but do you spend time working on your employee retention strategy?

There are a number of companies that focus heavily on retention and as a result they retain a high percentage of their staff, but what are they doing?

They increase the flow of communication – How can you know what your employees are thinking if you don’t ask them? You need to create an open way of communication at all levels of your organisation. What is important to a CEO may not be important to an engineer, every level needs the opportunity to communicate. When you have the feedback, discuss the ideas, and feedback back to your employees about what you will implement and by when. Communication is critical!

“Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it.” Timothy R. Clark

They ensure each individual employee has a career path – Don’t assume that all employees are happy in their current role. Ensure all levels have the opportunity to develop, whether that is to develop at the level they are at or to develop to the next role in the career ladder. As soon as you promote someone you should put them on a development plan to reach the next level. The majority of people need a goal, they need something to work towards and as an employer you should ensure every single person has that opportunity. Manage this correctly and you will limit the amount of people that leave to achieve the next step on the career ladder.

Tied in with a career path is learning & development – Everyone should have the opportunity to develop knowledge within their role. A number of organisations offer in house or external training courses to ensure employees have access to development opportunities.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” –Richard Branson

They recruit well – Having a defined recruitment strategy will improve retention. Have a structure to your process and recruit to your company values, not just the skills required for the role. Recruit people that match your company values and sell them your company vision, tell them why people want to work for you and therefore why they should join. And if they don’t fit your values, don’t recruit them no matter how great they appear on paper.

They recruit via direct referrals – If you can recruit like minded people that are recommended by your existing employees you will improve retention. If you can push direct referrals you will notice a large impact on employee retention.

They focus on employing a diverse workforce – I have worked with a number of clients recently that have been focussing on recruiting diverse talent and establishing a diversity & inclusion strategy. It is a well-known fact that diverse workforces have a better retention rate. You can also gain fresh ideas and views that help to improve your company culture. Go big on diversity and look to other sectors for diverse talent.

“Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.” Ola Joseph

They have a defined company culture that is built on company values – This can’t just be writing on the wall, you need values that mean something and values that create a unique culture. A team working together will always have greater retention than a group of individuals. Work with your employees to define your values and let that create your culture. What makes your company great? And what makes a great employee within your company

“Treating employees benevolently shouldn’t be viewed as an added cost that cuts into profits, but as a powerful energizer that can grow the enterprise into something far greater than one leader could envision.” Harold Schultz – founder and former CEO of Starbucks

They regularly review remuneration / packages – It is easy to forget to review existing employees’ salaries and packages but it is essential that you do. As talent is becoming more in demand packages always increase. You can easily lose a key employer simply because you left them on the same pay scale as when they joined the company two years ago. Make sure you regularly review based on market conditions.

They give recognition – Dont undervalue the impact of employee recognition. Celebrate the small wins as well as the big wins. Share the success with all levels of your organisation, make everyone feel a part of the journey.

 “People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise and rewards.”

And finally they are flexible – If you are not offering flexibility right now then you are in trouble. Make sure employees have the option to work from home if required (if possible for the role) and ensure you offer flexibility on shift patterns. Flexibility also comes in with employee remuneration – are you offering everyone the same package or can they choose what is most beneficial to them? As always ask your employees what they want and work with them to find a solution.

A retention strategy needs to be unique to your organisation, it is not a one size fits all approach. Engagement with your staff is the first step on the road to developing a strategy. So why not start today by asking your employees how you can improve your organisation?

And if you are an employee, take your ideas to your employer. Offer solutions and not problems. If they don’t listen, then there are plenty of companies out there that will. 

You cant stop employees leaving unless you have a plan to make them stay”