Retention starts at the recruitment stage
By mining recruitment expert, FORREST BRIGGS, Senior Consultant, RecruitR
With the well-publicised skills shortage within the mining sector, and Australia as a whole, any Manager worth their salt understands the importance of retaining their staff. The length of time it takes to find a replacement, the time and money spent bringing the replacement up to speed and the risk associated with their culture fit, not to mention the rising cost of recruitment, all add to the importance of employers keeping their staff.
First of all it should be said that 'counter-offers' that offer more money to exiting employees are not effective; they are a band-aid solution to the problem. There are well published statistics indicating between 50-70% of candidates that accept a counter offer leave within 6 months. This coupled with increased tension in the working environment and the fact other staff may use this as a bargaining chip often results in 'counter-offers' being more detrimental than helpful to a companies staffing. Retention of staff should start at the recruitment stage.
When employers are assessing a candidate's suitability for a position it is important to think long-term. I actively encourage my clients to think about what positions and career opportunities will be available to the candidate in 2 years, 5 years, and even further. Succession planning is an essential part of the recruitment process. Taking the candidate's career into consideration is highly appealing to the potential employee as it demonstrates at the initial stage that a company values and rewards their people, it can also be a key indicator to an employer of how long a person will be with the company.
If you hire a person for a job that they will 'master' within a short time period, 12 - 24 months, and don't offer them any new challenges you can be assured they will be seeking challenges elsewhere. Candidates realise that their skills are in demand and are seizing opportunities to further their experience at every chance they get. When you consider there may be a 2-3 month lead time to recruit a suitable replacement and a similar amount of time for that person to come up to speed in the role; you want to keep employees for as long as you can.
While it is important to discuss career opportunities with potential candidates, it is essential employers deliver on promises. Many candidates are getting caught out by employers making promises in the interview process and not fulfilling these pledges (understandably, this is often due to staffing constraints). During the recruitment phase employers should avoid setting expectations they can't meet, as this only creates disappointment down the track. Communication with personnel is also vital. If you are communicating with your staff regarding career opportunities (or lack of) you may be able to avoid unnecessary resignations, or in unavoidable circumstances, it will allow you to prepare appropriately.
Another consideration to be made at the recruitment stage is that lifestyle conditions provided with the role, fly-in / fly-out rosters and locations for residential roles, are sustainable. Whilst potential employees may initially believe at the interview stage that they will be able to manage the roster / location, in reality the strains of the roster or location is often not sustainable, meaning that after a short period of time the candidate starts looking for conditions that better match their lifestyle. One way to minimize this risk may be that the employer allows for the candidate and their partner to visit the town, although this does add to the initial cost in the recruitment process, it may save money and heartache down the line. This issue is commonly seen with candidates that look to the West for higher salaries and still want to FIFO from the East coast. After 6 months or so the candidates realise that the time spent travelling is not worth the increased salary. This obviously varies for each individual however is another important aspect of retention to be address at the initial stages of recruitment.
We all know there is no sure-fire way to retain staff but I can guarantee that if there is no career path mapped out for the candidate, if promises are not kept, communication is not continuous and if the lifestyle conditions offered with the role are not sustainable, candidates will start to look elsewhere.