Survey after survey is showing that employee retention is a growing human resource concern for today’s businesses and not-for-profit organizations. In fact, some surveys are showing that over 50% of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs and have placed themselves back into the job market. While one might think this is good news for recruiters and employers engaged in a candidate search, it also suggests that attention needs to be paid to those work elements that will not only attract new employees but will help to keep them.That being said, I continually see recruiters and employers neglect to examine the various work elements and organizational culture factors in their executive search process. In my view, identifying organizational culture and potential attraction and retention issues is the key to a successful search. I agree there is no “one-size-fits-all” recruitment and retention strategy, but there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration.
For instance, today’s employees expect their work to be interesting, engaging and provide opportunities for personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Younger generations want a job that is challenging and fun. With this in mind, one of the first things I do as an executive search professional is to identify the various elements of a job that would be attractive to a candidate and then I help to determine what type of candidate would be interested in the required tasks.
Next, I examine the personal characteristics of an individual who would be successful. This includes such factors as the need for autonomy and independence, the desire for challenge and change, the drive to be either a technical or managerial expert, the level of drive toward social service or a just cause, and/or whether or not a candidate will work well in a business versus a not-for-profit organization. All of these factors are absolutely key to finding a candidate with the right fit to organizational needs.
I then also identify what additional organizational elements will help to ensure the attraction and retention of a candidate. For instance, while money is not always the final answer, candidates do want to be paid fairly and want to see career and financial progression as they contribute to the organization. My role is to provide important advice regarding the market rates for salaries and to help my clients select a compensation offering that will work.
Retention of a new candidate is also impacted by the nature of the orientation program and the integration and development of specific first year goals and objectives that are aligned with the corporate vision. As an executive search consultant, I work with the client to clearly spell out these items as well as to advise the client to implement an effective methodology for measuring success. When possible, I suggest offering executive coaching to the new incumbent for at least the first 90 days.
At the senior executive level, one of the key recruitment and retention strategies in my view is a focus on independence and autonomy in leadership and decision-making. In fact, I pay particular attention to this environmental factor because it is most often the one that is frequently misrepresented. If a candidate is promised independence and autonomy only to find an environment of micromanagement, I guarantee they will leave within the first year or shortly thereafter. Yet, this is the most difficult factor for business owners and board chairs to acknowledge.
There’s no two ways about it; the best retention strategy is to recruit the right person with the right credentials and characteristics at the right time for your business cycle. This can only be accomplished by applying a thorough and intensive executive search process that examines and considers all of the environmental and cultural elements for recruitment and retention.