The Importance of Retaining Employees

Published: 26th January 2011
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One of the most challenging aspects in an organisation, and in the business world as a whole, involves retaining employees. Rather than looking for ways to keep their existing employees, organisations often opt for letting them go and recruiting new employees instead. However, recruitment and selection can be a lengthy and very costly and risky process that doesn't necessarily guarantee whether you are really choosing the right person with the right attitude for the right position. In addition, terminating an employee’s contract or service also increases the likelihood of other employees feeling insecure in the organisation and may greatly affect their morale, loyalty and performance, thereby triggering an increase in workforce turnover. Particularly in the UAE, the importance of retaining employees is becoming of interest to many employers. At the 7th Annual Middle East HR Summit* in October, in his workshop conducted in Dubai leading leadership and HR guru Chester Elton focused on the three areas which companies should pay particular attention to: appreciation, communication and alignment of employees. He further suggests that recognition of employees is the key to retaining the right staff and that the basics of such recognition should be acknowledged by companies.

Organisations should strive to understand their employees’ expectations and to align employees' personal goals to the organisation's goals; thus ensuring that there is a win-win situation for employer and employee alike. This then encourages employees to remain working in the organisation as satisfied individuals who are motivated and keen on working hard to achieve the organisation’s business goals.

A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)**survey of 505 human resource professionals reporting their perceptions on employee satisfaction, compared with previous surveys conducted by the SHRM, found that both employees and human resource professionals rate compensation and benefits as the most important factors in employee satisfaction. However, when there is a problem with the organisational culture and working conditions set by employers, employees will note these factors as reasons for leaving.

Protecting the most important assets of the organisation improves customer and client perceptions of the organisation and its services in the long run and also facilitates strong relationships between the organisation’s employees and its customers.

There are different methods of retaining employees including employee reward systems, career development programs and performance-based bonuses. One very effective method is through employee referrals when recruiting employees, where existing employees are given the chance to participate in identifying the competitive advantages of working in the organisation and the factors which would attract candidates to their organisation. This method empowers the employees, giving them a sense of responsibility for representing his/her organisation positively while also serving as an open communication channel for voicing concerns between the employer and their employees. Retaining employees in such a manner brings about Organisational Citizenship Behaviour (OCB) where employees feel a sense of belonging to the organisation, and hence are willing to go that extra mile to achieve the organisation’s business goals.

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