Although the term “brain drain” was first coined to describe the mass emigration of intelligent, talented people from post-war Europe to the United States (such as Albert Einstein), it is often used today to refer to the poaching of talent from companies by rivals and other organisations. A lot of these companies have inherent issues that prevent them from holding onto their key team members when another business comes in for them. These high levels of staff turnover leave them unable to progress and develop within their industries.
With that in mind, it’s vital to tap into the minds of employees and figure out what incentives, apart from money, will keep them loyal and aligned with your company and its objectives and goals so they are not tempted away by other businesses. Bear in mind, however, that certain incentives will not appeal to everyone, so try and tailor them so a broader selection is available.
Many people regret that they don’t have as much of a chance to travel when they’re locked into a full-time career, so one thing companies should offer is the option for employees to take a three-to-six month sabbatical once they have worked there for two or three years. This not only gives employees an incentive to remain with the company at least for that long, but hopefully ensures that they will return, given that their job will still be waiting for them after they get back from their travels.
Sabbaticals also give employees the chance to recharge their batteries so they can make a greater and more focused contribution to the company upon their return.
Employees in every industry want to develop their skills and learn new ones in order to progress in their careers. If they feel they’re not getting that, they will leave, because it’s an indication that the company doesn’t care about them and their futures. They will also want to keep up with their peers who work elsewhere.
Offering coaching and learning and development initiatives to employees not only benefits them but also the company as a whole, because team members are now much more useful and more of an asset to their departments. They will remain with the company for longer and hopefully become indispensable to it.
Meaning can be misinterpreted as a bit of a hippy New Age word – we’re all searching for it, but we don’t know what it is, etc. It applies in business in terms of employees wanting to know that their work matters to the company’s overall objectives and they’re not considered to be easily replaceable “drones”. Ultimately, they want to know that what they’re doing has meaning and that they’re the best candidate to do it.
Companies can go a long way towards assuaging employees’ doubts about the significance of their work by being as transparent as possible about the work the organisation is doing and why it is doing it. This means being open about failures as well as successes, in addition to examining the big picture as well as the progress of different departments.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important to practically everyone, regardless of their age – younger employees want to be able to enjoy themselves with the first real money they’re likely to be earning, while more mature employees may be focused on spending time with their families and not spending the entire lives in the office. If they feel as though they’re being restricted by their work commitments, they may choose to find employment at a company that offers more flexibility.
Offering flexitime or a greater number of annual leave days (within reason) will be big plus points to any current and potential employees.
Doug Chapman is an L&D Consultant focusing on Management and Leadership at Thales Learning & Development. Doug specialises in training leadership and management capabilities, consulting with Thales L&D’s customers to help them develop and implement effective training programmes.
Doug is a regular contributor to Enhance – The Magazine for Learning and Development.