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After the Rebound: Will Your Top Talent Leave?

January 31, 2011

By: Carletta Clyatt

Are you ready for the US economy to rebound? Say “yes” only if your senior management has already:

• Updated hiring practices
• Set the retention of top talent as a primary goal
• Worked to actively engage employees
• Provided staff monetary and non-monetary motivators

The fact is that without these four turnover-lowering strategies in place, the future success of your financial institution is at stake. The chances of losing top talent to the competition will skyrocket as soon as the business climate improves if you don’t take the steps needed to buy long-term employee loyalty NOW.

It’s no secret that when the fear of a recession – or anything remotely similar to a recession – looms, most workers hold tight to their job, perform their best and do whatever they can to keep themselves from being let go. But once the first sign of light from an improving job market appears, everything changes. Expect to see some marked differences in your employees’ attitudes and mindsets. And, depending on how they really feel about your organization, their manager and the overall workplace experience, they may or may not choose to explore new opportunities with others.

This is of particular concern to those in the financial industry, since there is an increasing demand for specialized employees in areas like commercial lending, compliance, technology and wealth management has already made hiring and retaining good employees a huge challenge. Now is the time to take the steps necessary to avert a mass exodus of your key people as the economy rebounds. Here are a few tips:

Hire the best person for a job the first time:

Workers who feel well matched to their position and in sync with their environment will be happier, more productive -- and more loyal. If you’re still utilizing the same old hiring practices of yesteryear, it’s time for a change.

Don’t guess about an applicant’s abilities or rely mainly on a gut instinct, impressive looking resume or notable references. The person who seems best for the job will only be so if he or she has suitable behavioral traits and a personality that fits well with a workplace culture. Obtain as much fact-based information about your potential new hire as possible.

If your office is fast paced, you need people who can adapt quickly, multi-task and deal well under stress. And don’t take on a self-directing person if you expect conformity, caution and comfort with structure. Match the applicant to your specific objectives, needs and management tactics. Doing so will lower the frustration level for everyone.

Know the value of employee retention

The price paid when employees leave is high. Statistics show the cost of each loss can range anywhere from 30% to 150% of a person’s annual compensation. If a company with 100 employees normally experiences 10% turnover annually, assuming an average salary of $40,000, the company could add $120,000 - $600,000 back to the bottom line just by decreasing turnover.

Retaining the best employees ensures customer satisfaction, product sales, cohesive co-workers, effective succession planning, and deeply rooted organizational knowledge and learning. It’s worth it to gain a very clear understanding of what it takes to keep each good employee happy. But bear in mind that their needs will vary depending on their specific behavioral traits, expectations, desires and concerns.

Spark enthusiasm for the work culture

Most employees leave jobs because they don’t get along with their boss. Therefore, the importance of teaching your managers how to manage becomes vital. Too many make the mistake of treating every employee the same way, thinking this is the fair and equitable way to operate. What’s overlooked, however, are the individual and often very diverse needs of each member of the team.

Communicating with everyone the same way, for example, doesn’t work. Some people respond best to bottom-line answers and limited banter, while others feel neglected and disliked if frequent praise and a lighthearted conversation style are not delivered by their leader. One group of workers might need frequent managerial guidance; others expect to function on their own. Knowing who’s who and how to respond to each member of the team is key to employing happy, satisfied workers who feel understood by management.

Give what employees really want

Of course paying competitive salaries is an important retention tool. But there are other perks, benefits and forms of compensation you can offer employees that might make them rethink any plans to jump ship.
Be creative but keep in mind the unique personalities of each individual! While those attracted to status symbols might appreciate being “Employee of the Month”, workers pressed for time would probably be more grateful for a flexible schedule or an early afternoon dismissal. Most employees also list good communication from management, performance feedback, and corporate praise for strong efforts as top motivators, initiatives that keep them happy. And “redeployment” -- in business, the practice of placing key workers somewhere else in the organization rather than lose them -- is becoming increasing popular as employers look to hold on to their human investments.

Remember that attracting and keeping the right people translates into real dollars on the bottom line. New opportunities are within reach and building as each day passes. But only with a well-rounded, appreciated and loyal staff at your command, will the expectations of future unprecedented growth and success become a reality.

Carletta Clyatt

Carletta Clyatt, a popular seminar speaker, is the SVP at The Omnia Group. She offers clients advice on how to manage more effectively and gain insight into employee strengths, weaknesses and behaviors. For more information about employee behavioral assessments, call Carletta at 813-280-3026 or email:

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