Throwing more money at your staff might give you short-term loyalty, but Joel Hill of Noojee Contact Solutions explains, the most effective incentives are more personal.

How is business going? Are you nailing targets, making budget and on track to get a nice bonus? Do your staff seem happy and motivated to come to work every day? If you can’t confidently answer yes to these questions, or you’re really not sure, then you’re not alone. For small and medium sized business in particular, growing a business profitably, while retaining top talent, can be a challenge.

For an SME, staff is not only an asset, but the experience your staff have can make or break your culture, productivity and ultimately your reputation in the market. The mistake often made by managers is to offer financial incentives alone in order to keep staff. By doing this, you might get your people to stick around a while longer, but the toxins will remain, and so will the turnover. By taking some time to understand why people are leaving and what needs to change, you can create an environment conducive to great energy.

  1. Recruit the person
Don’t just recruit the experience and/or qualifications. Have a conversation in your interview, ask questions about what excites them, what challenges them and see the energy they bring to their answers. Have a coffee- ask them about their life, what they enjoy doing, to get a real sense of the person. Experience and qualifications you can get from their CV- the less tangible assets you need to invest the time to discover yourself.
  1. Get clear on your objectives
According to Barney and Griffen, organisation goals exist to meet the following business needs:
  1. They provide clarity and direction
  2. They help facilitate effective planning
  3. They help businesses understand and control productivity
  4. They motivate and inspire employees
Similarly, set clear objectives around the kind of culture you want to cultivate, and implement this thinking into your recruitment process.
  1. Make it easy for them to do their jobs
No matter what your industry, happy staff are generally not frustrated staff. Having the right technology in place can be crucial to alleviating staff frustrations.

The call centre industry, where staff turnover is a real challenge for a number of reasons, is a clear example of where the right technology can save a whole lot of staff frustration and disillusionment. A system that allows them to bring up customer details quickly and easily so they don’t flounder on the phone is crucial, as is the ability for them to access key information so queries can be closed off then and there.

  1. Recognise your people
When you have clear objectives, you have clear wins. Acknowledge these wins in the way that best suits the individual who has achieved them. For a more introverted person, this might mean a quiet word in their ear letting them know you are noticing their great work. For a more outgoing sort of personality, they might love getting them up in front of the rest of the group and being acknowledged loudly and publicly.

Birthdays, babies, retirements, any personal achievements should also be a reason to bring everyone together and celebrate. If your staff have friends at work then they are more likely to stick around.

Getting your staff to stick around doesn’t have to be a costly exercise. Financial incentives are a motivating factor, there’s no doubt about this. But without strong leaders who pay attention to their staff, money will be a short layover on your way to the same destination.

Joel Hill is General Manager at Noojee Contact Solutions.