A good strategy to retain employees will help your Professional Services business become more profitable by reducing the cost of finding and training new employees.

Professional Services firms are arguably the keenest on employee retention. Since these are people-centric businesses with their biggest asset being its people, they invest a lot of time and money in their people to build their skills. Naturally, they would want to retain their talented workforce to continue to add value to the firm and grow the business.

Why do businesses face high employee turnover?

When you ask employees the reason why they are leaving, the usual suspect answers are: 1. Better salary 2. Better career advancement opportunities 3. More responsibility/challenging work in the new company. But these are only the pull factors that people share in exit interviews. There are other deeper reasons why people leave.

Salary increments and career advancements should come naturally in growing businesses. The reasons that may actually push people to greener pastures could be:

  • Lack of work-life balance
  • Lack of recognition within the firm
  • Lack of faith in management /the future of the business

When you start to observe a little more closely, you will find the problems you need to address in order to reduce employee attrition. This could be at the individual level, which can be addressed by exploring some of the issues mentioned above, or it could at the company level, where you have to check if there are those who are unable to fit into the company culture or if this culture itself needs to evolve because of changing circumstances.

What is an employee retention strategy and what benefits can you expect?

Simply put, an employee retention strategy helps you manage employee turnover. It is important to understand that you can only manage the attrition. All businesses face some level of employee turnover, which is a good thing, and the objective shouldn’t be to just reduce it because that will make you create strategies that will retain non-performers, which is equally unhealthy for the business.

If, however, high employee attrition is an immediate problem you need to solve, then your strategies can be around reducing this to an acceptable number. Here are some of the benefits you can expect with an employee retention strategy:

  • Reduce cost of employee hiring and training
  • Improve performance of the business with highly skilled talent
  • Build strong work culture and foster stronger co-worker relationships
  • Create work-life balance and lower chances of burn-out

What employee retention strategies are other businesses using to retain talented employees?

There are many strategies to choose from and you can’t or shouldn’t implement all of them. You will need to pick and choose the ones that are relevant to your business and work environment. Some of the strategies that other businesses have been using to control attrition are:

  • Plan for the long-term engagement with new hires by talking about company culture from day one and help them align to the culture through regular communication, support, and mentoring
  • Have a buddy or mentor assigned to help new hires navigate the initial days and months in the firm and help them deliver those quick wins to establish credibility and build confidence to take on bigger responsibilities
  • Think of compensation instead of just measuring salaries. This will be handy when you are unable to offer bigger increments. You can compensate for that by offering better work-life balance, travel, and other perks
  • Have an open door policy that allows employees, no matter their level in the hierarchy, to approach you with ideas or issues
  • Offer feedback, recognition, and rewards, especially when the team delivers on a difficult project
  • Think about the long-term growth of the employees by offering them trainings and personal development opportunities
  • Have flexible work arrangements with good work-life balance and don’t try and force people to come back to office or have too many virtual meetings just to monitor the work
  • Make employees feel seen by recognizing and nurturing their individual strengths, which can be immensely powerful because most people don’t know their core strengths
  • Create opportunities for employees to build stronger connections with meetings and events that are not about work
  • Allow employees to experiment and try new things or take on radically different responsibilities or join different teams to test their capabilities and build new skills
  • Have an automated tool that helps managers search for specific skills to find resources for different projects, which will help them allocate resources more accurately that will in turn help employees deliver their best

While the above-mentioned employee retention strategies will help, they can’t ensure 100% retention. Some employee attrition will always be there, and this is healthy for the business. You need to let go of people who are unable to perform, and you need to bring new blood into the business with fresh perspectives and new ideas.