Effective management is the best way to retain staff

To retain staff, pay attention to relationships at work and sort them out before they become toxic, writes Gill Taylor

Gill Taylor
Gill Taylor

January provides an opportunity to reflect on where we are in life. For some people this means assessing their work and job satisfaction. This is the most popular month to change jobs, but we need to work out what we can do to retain talented people. To do this, our sector needs to know what motivates people in the workplace.

Charity Pulse, an annual voluntary sector-wide survey conducted by Birdsong Charity Consulting and Third Sector, last year surveyed working relationships and their impact on job satisfaction and charity effectiveness. In charities where working relationships are mostly healthy, they found that 70 per cent of staff planned to be working there in a year's time - but this plummeted to 20 per cent of staff in "unhealthy" organisations. As many as 77 per cent of workers leaving unhealthy organisations cited management or organisational issues as the reason. In healthy organisations, the main reason for leaving was "to make better use of my skills".

A study conducted in 2013 by the Institute of Leadership and Management found that the most important motivators across all sectors were: - enjoyment of the job (59 per cent); how much they are paid (49 per cent); and being treated fairly by their managers (22 per cent).

Meanwhile, only 13 per cent of employees said that bonuses motivated them to work harder. Regular feedback, allowing staff to be innovative and improvements in office environments also helped, they said.

In the same study, 82 per cent of managers said their staff knew exactly what was expected of them and how their performance was assessed. But staff felt less positive about the impact their managers were having, with only 58 per cent of employees saying they knew what they were supposed to do and how their performance was assessed.

It follows that staff retention and motivation depend on good managers who can communicate effectively and make a real difference to their teams. Invest in getting your managers to really understand and put into practice the five fundamentals of good management: coaching, giving feedback, listening, recognising success and performance management. For a member of staff, something as simple as hearing the phrase "you've done a good job" has a far greater effect than most managers realise.

Pay restraint over the past few years has contributed to staff dissatisfaction. But once the pay level is enough to attract people into the role, most employees care only that there is a fair rewards system.

To retain staff, pay attention to relationships at work and sort them out before they become toxic; ensure that your managers are managing effectively; pay a fair starting salary; and - if you can afford it - provide a cost-of-living award. It is also important to do what you can to increase cost-of-living payments across the organisation, especially for lower-paid staff.

Gill Taylor is a sector HR consultant

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