Every firm tries to meet the needs of their talent in order to increase retention and employee satisfaction but only a few actually succeed. There are many areas that impact retention and satisfaction, a few of the key areas are: work/life balance, feeling valued, career opportunities, stimulating and meaningful work and virtual workplaces. The company that is able to address these needs is likely to see a positive impact on their overall business performance.
Surprisingly, work/life balance is one of the more difficult talent needs to meet. In the past, when people were successful in their work life they often sacrificed their personal life to do so. These days more and more employees are striving to have a balance between success at work and success at home. If a company stands in the way of this they will move on to another company. By offering programs such as flexible work schedule, remote workplaces, voluntary time off to pursue interests outside of the workplace or community service programs, companies give employees the opportunity to a better balance between work, home and community (Shaver, Understanding Generation X and Y Employees, n.d.). In my workplace we enjoy some work schedule flexibility as we meet the demands on our audience. For example, we work 8 hours every 9 weeks on the weekend to be available for needs outside of the regular work week. We then choose when we would like to take those hours off during the regular work week. We have the option of working more than 8 weekend hours if desired. I recently took 2 days off to attend an out of town wedding and did not use any paid vacation time. Instead I used flex time to cover the time I was away.
Another key area of need for talent in a company is the need to feel valued. An employee that feels they are valued and that their contributions are important will feel more engaged and more motivated in their job (Biro, 2014). An engaged and motivated employee typically is more productive and provides a higher quality of work than a dissatisfied employee. Making employees feel valued can be as simple as recognizing a job well done in a public forum or regular feedback from a supervisor (Biro, 2014). People want to know that what they do matters and is appreciated. In my workplace we have frequent team meetings. Often they are just quick 15 minute gatherings to make sure we are all on the same page regarding recent communications or initiatives. This time is also used to recognize any achievements within our group. Additionally, we have daily email updates that highlight team members who have gone above and beyond expectation to help someone. We also have regular meeting with our Vice President and President in which staff members are regularly recognized for everything from great work to innovating ideas. The result is a workforce that is highly motivated and engaged in their work.
A transparent career progression is important to all employees. People want to know where their career can go and what they need to do to get there. To retain top talent a company needs to make sure those employees understand exactly what opportunities might be available to them. If a career path is unclear with their current company employees will look outside the organization for the next step in their career. This is especially important when dealing with Gen X and Gen Y employees. In addition to understanding what their career options might be, employees want companies to provide the appropriate support to help them go down that path. This might come in the form of mentoring programs, formal training, informal on-the-job training, job shadowing, coaching for supervisors or even stretch job assignments (Shaver, Make the workplace fun to retain your Gen X, Y workers, 2008). My first day out of formal training and in my job I was assigned a mentor. This mentor checked in with me regularly but in a very informal way.