Retaining Key Employees
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In today’s competitive market, it is increasingly difficult to attract and retain high-performers. 3P Partners provide executive search services to our clients in the food and agribusiness industry. We spend the majority of our day reaching out to candidates who are not actively looking for a new job so that we can provide a wider talent pool to our clients.

We are tasked with understanding: Why someone would accept a new job when they are happy in their current role?

To find some answers, we surveyed a wide range of professionals within our food & agribusiness network; these participants had varied technical competencies and years of experience. Here are our top four findings:

1. Money isn’t everything. Our survey debunked the common misconception that a higher base salary is the sole deciding factor in employees pursuing other employment opportunities. We saw that more senior level candidates — i.e. those with 15 to 25 years of experience — valued career growth just as much as salary. Opportunity for a greater bonus was ranked as the #3 most common answer given by more junior level candidates — i.e. respondents with less than 10 years of experience. Although this seems like a popular reason within this group, it did not have the same weighting for individuals with more than 10 years of experience. There was also a significant variance depending on the industry focus. For e.g. participants in commodity trading put a greater emphasis towards the importance of a bonus, compared with those in engineering.

2. Expectation setting is critical. All candidates — from each and every experience level, industry, and position — reported that the lack of expectation setting had a significant impact in deciding to leave a company. The solution is simple: managers should establish clearly defined goals and objectives with their employees and reward their employees if they do what is expected of them. It should be a mutually beneficial scenario. If an employee’s performance exceeds expectations, the key is to follow through with what was communicated as a result of exceeding their goals, which has a direct correlation with satisfaction and engagement levels.

3. Identify opportunities for career growth. More than 50% of respondents listed opportunity for career growth and progression as one of the main reasons why candidates left their companies, regardless of the years of experience or industry focus. Engagement levels and productivity are positively correlated. The majority of the candidates that we speak to would benefit from more frequent, informal catch-ups with their managers. Tracking performance against what is required for their next promotion, and identifying opportunities for training and development is critical — even if it is shadowing a more senior colleague or suggesting tips to improve their output.

4. Flexibility does not decrease productivity. The ability to work remote and flexible work schedules were among the top 5 reasons respondents in all categories gave for seeking new employment. In the smart phone era, juggling work commitments with other priorities has become much more attainable. As long as expectations are clearly established, granting flexible work schedules or allowing employees to work remote, should not hinder work performance. Not only should it have the adverse effect, but it would enable managers to tap into a broader talent pool.

There is no single solution to retaining high performers. Our survey proved that employees have diverse criteria for leaving or taking a new job; however, if you:

  • Dedicate the time to understand your team and their individual drivers.
  • Set clear expectations and deliver appropriate rewards and/or recognition.
  • Identify opportunities for training and development.
  • Consider alternative flexible work schedules or work environments.

You will boost employee engagement levels and retain your high-performers.

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