A ‘People First’ Strategy Is How Great Companies Thrive

Employee retention is important for businesses large and small. Losing team members is not only disruptive, it’s also costly and time-consuming.

Employee retention is important for businesses large and small. Losing team members is not only disruptive, it’s also costly and time-consuming to find new employees and train them.

A recent Nisbets hospitality industry survey suggests that workplace environment and relationships with other colleagues are “very important” issues (16%), followed by work-life balance (14%). Interestingly, a competitive salary came in at number three on the list (13%), followed by working hours (12%), and training opportunities (11%).


Culture and colleagues are key

As the study suggests, employees tend to leave a business that exhibits a poor company culture. Jo Fowle, managing director of Urban People Recruitment notes that people tend to stay in position where they feel they’re part of the culture and valued. “Companies need to invest time, effort and money in ensuring people come first,” she adds.


Photo: Mentatdgt, Pexels
Photo: Mentatdgt, YFS Magazine

Aideen Whelehan, a human resources manager at London-based Lancaster Hotel, shares why colleague relationships (especially management-employee) relationships are so important. “We’ve been focusing on this for the last three years and it’s really had an impact. Some people work for money but for most people it’s the person next to you and your manager. This is the person to whom you report so you really have a problem if you can’t connect with them. That’s why many people leave their jobs.”

A separate Gallup survey found that half of those polled left their jobs primarily “to get away from their manager.”

Surprisingly, the Nisbets survey found that compensation was not a primary motivating factor when it came to a decision to leave a job. According to Fowle, “They may say it is, but when you probe further, you find out it’s about a raft of different aspects,” she says.

“We find it’s usually that they’ve reached a point where they aren’t learning anything new or growing as an individual. This is key for many people, who may feel stagnant and unable to develop their role.” Although pay does get people through the door, Whelehan claims it doesn’t mean they will stay. “You pay someone once – it’s what they expect so it’s only going to make a difference if you pay them more, again and again.”


Development is a retention factor

It’s clear that in order to retain staff, development is essential; The Lancaster Hotel reports low staff turnover due to their commitment to develop people “whereas some industries don’t,” Whelehan adds. “We invest in development opportunities and give people the chance of promotion.”

For example, their Future Leader program is designed for employees who seek out upward movement within the company. After interviews, 16 people are selected to start weekly training (2 days per week) for seven months. “They work in between, we connect them with the business and expect them to develop and stay with the hotel,” according to Whelehan. They have the opportunity to listen to the top people in the company about all the elements of the hotel such as strategy and finance, as well as attend seminars.


Photo: Christina Morillo, Pexels
Photo: Christina Morillo, YFS Magazine

Apprenticeships are also incredibly helpful when it comes to motivating and improving an employee’s skillset. Whelehan says, “When we had a new painting and decorating apprentice, we buddied him with a senior member of staff so they were working together. The apprentice’s interpretation of work is going to be different to someone who has worked here for 30 years. The benefit for the apprentice was to learn from the stories and experiences from the older colleague and vice versa. They shared experiences. This wouldn’t work with everyone, but we knew this would work well with these particular individuals.”


The survey confirms what we inherently know. “No-one wants to work in a job they feel is leading nowhere. If your company promotes a mentality of stand-still-or-move-on, people will likely use you as a stop-gap before finding something more meaningful.” As you grow your business and seek to retain top talent, focus on building a culture with meaning and cultivating colleagues who care and collaborate. Develop your people and your business will benefit.


Jake Holyoak is the Senior Outreach Coordinator at Mediaworks,  n award-winning digital marketing agency, offering a comprehensive range of services to help businesses succeed online. He creates and syndicates news articles for multiple clients across the UK.


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