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Playing for Keeps

Useful advice on keeping top talent

FINALLY. After those long hours of collating and scanning resumes, interviewing several applicants, negotiating with the ones you've chosen and sadly turning down everyone else (preferably by e-mail, and only when they contact you), you've finally made the hire. They're skilled, easy to be with, hardworking, smart and then some - exactly what your company needed you to get. Kudos baby.

But I hope you haven't forgotten one of the more important part of your job as HR Manager-making sure that the top talent stays. With the talent market becoming more mobile and less loyal as time goes on, there will always be firms suffering from the high turnover cost, not to mention the downed productivity of employees due to job dissatisfaction. And you know that these guys are the ones already looking for their next job online.

There are only two reasons why a lot of employees find it easier to "move on," especially the good ones (you know, the ones you'd rather keep). First, some other company can give them what you can't - job satisfaction. Second, because its fairly easy for them to do so - all they have to do is post their resume online, wait for an interview sked from companies they like, and then "call in sick" the next day.

So if you want your top talent to play for keeps with you, here's some useful advice to help them do so.

Know specifically what they want.

The best way to do this is simply ASK. And make sure you've established with them a relationship wherein they can easily do so. Be open. Keep in mind that the major wants they keep are any or all of the following:

- Good, fair pay and other perks
- Reasonable workload
- Fine working conditions (that includes the people around and above them as well as the equipment they use)
- Fulfilling, meaningful and exciting work
- Sensible rules that they can follow easy
- Due credit for their efforts

Also remember that its also important to know HOW they want each one and what they MEAN by each. Have a sit-down and talk about it.

Keep up their MORALE!

Have office-sponsored activities like holiday parties whenever warranted, like a Christmas party or a trip out-of-town. If your budget can't afford it, let them have their own whenever they can and agree to do so. Remember the key words: "team building" and "morale boost". If they're doing well, reward them. Don't be stingy with your praise; throw it wherever it'd deserved.

Don't treat them like "JUST WORKERS".

Employees are people too. Don't treat them like their only objective in life is to work for you, because this isn't the case. If they don't work 100% of their time, its because they shouldn't. This isn't a production or efficiency flaw; its human nature. The only essential things about their working habits should be to meet company goals on time. Be reasonable.

Don't get them stressed out and pressured TOO much.

It's a common maxim that ALL types of work entail stress and pressure. But it's also not fair to let too much stress and pressure. Be willing to reduce it whenever both get too unreasonably hard on the employee.

Make sure they form good relationships with their respective superiors.

Many employees jump ship not just for better pay, but for better management as well. Be prepared to approach that grouchy supervisor about his or her attitude towards other employees.

Listen to their long-term goals.

The good ones are always looking at a better future. Make sure that they see it as members of your organization. Open the doors of opportunity to deserving employees and you'll be just fine in that department.

Don't wait for them to get an offer first.

Don't wait for other firms to make an offer to your people before you take action. This shows that you cannot see for yourself the true value of your people. This is especially annoying among employees who value credit and their self-worth as workers.

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