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Cracking the Retention Puzzle: Insights and Tips from HR Expert Robyn Young

Cracking the Retention Puzzle: Insights and Tips from HR Expert Robyn Young

Managing staff is one of the hardest parts of running a successful business. HR expert Robyn Young knows this all too well and has seen just about everything under the sun over her years helping to educate and support business owners with recruiting and retaining staff. We were lucky enough to sit down with Robyn who shed some light on what she terms the “retention puzzle” and shared a few tips along the way.

Tell us about what you are seeing at the moment:

In the current economic climate, we are seeing that businesses are, understandably, feeling tight, so not many people are recruiting unless they absolutely have to. In this instance it makes it even more important to get the recruitment process correct. Recruitment can be expensive and recruiting again and again is something that everyone wants to avoid.

Within workplaces, many employment issues we see bubbling away are still a result of the pandemic. That period really showed people are fed up with dealing with frustrating people and just don’t want to anymore. On a positive note, we are seeing fewer wellbeing issues since the pandemic, with people feeling more comfortable and open about working through these sorts of things. It is great to see employers offering more support in that space.

That’s great! Is there any way employers and managers can avoid these ‘issues’ arising in the workplace?

First things first, people are lovely, they are awesome, but they are unpredictable! So, it is a given that every workplace has its niggles, and that’s ok - it’s about how you deal with them that matters.

Robyn’s advice? Deal with the niggles early! While it can be uncomfortable and hard to face at first, being proactive is crucial to ensure larger issues don’t develop. If you are working in a tiered organisation, ensure your people managers are empowered to do this. Where we see major issues develop, it largely comes down to managers and leaders not feeling confident or capable of having these hard conversations.

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Recruitment can be a daunting task, both for those new to the game and with a bit more experience under their belt. How do employers get it right the first time?

When it comes to recruiting, one awesome human can make a big difference! It’s not about getting a bum on a seat; you’re looking for someone who fits your organisation and your values. Taking some time to think about what those values are at a deeper level will mean you are more likely to connect with the right person. Remember, you will almost never find someone that ticks all the boxes, but if they share a Kaupapa with you they can learn the gaps. Some things are teachable, and some things aren’t - culture is one of those things that cannot be taught.

It is important you don’t hire someone with the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude - I promise it will not work out. If you are struggling, the best thing you can do for your business is get some help to do it properly. Do some research, have conversations with other people who have recruited staff, talk to recruiters directly - not necessarily someone to just outsource to - but experts who can guide you, and teach you along the way. And please, don’t write a long advert! Think about who you are trying to attract and write an advert that appeals to them.

Once employers find that awesome person, how do they help them become part of the team? What’s the next steps?

There are a few key things employers can do to protect themselves during the early days of any employment, such as trial periods. These are available to almost anyone and are good backstops for both the employers and employees, as long as they are set up correctly - get some expert advice as they can be fiddly!

But they are not the first port of call. The best thing to do is set expectations early. Be open about how you work and operate and ensure the new staff member has open communication channels with their managers and peers. Then, you let the culture spread in a good way.

If anything arises that doesn’t fit with your organisation, deal with it through a gentle conversation and move on. The more frequently you have those small conversations the easier it becomes, and you don’t end up with larger issues later on.

How do employers keep staff engaged?

A lot feeds into retaining an employee, it’s a puzzle, and you have to quietly work away at all of the bits that make up that puzzle all year round. The key thing to remember is that the majority of people are not driven by money: if they love their job and the team then you will get more out of them. Your leader's capability is a big driver here. If you can get good leaders in your business they will help develop your people and encourage them to learn. When everyone knows how they contribute and they feel valued, they will enjoy their role and want to stay.

At the end of the day, if people leave for better and brighter things and you’ve helped them on their way, then consider your job well done. Sometimes people will hit a ceiling and it’s part of life.

Last piece of advice?

You’ve gotta get support with this stuff. HR is not a nice to have, it is essential. Most people think HR is just hiring and firing, it’s not. It’s conversations, coaching, advice and culture - the invisible things you cannot see but you know when it feels right.

HR doesn’t have to be complicated, get advice from an expert that suits you and your business, and ultimately the culture will improve. RYHR provide common sense and no-fuss advice and support for businesses on all things people related. Find out more here.

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