Project Staffing – Got the right team? Work hard to keep them.

Retaining key staff

Welcome 2014!  Everything changes over time, but one thing that will most likely not change in 2014 is a business’s desire to grow top line revenue while keeping expenditures low.

At the same time employees are looking to grow their career, increase job satisfaction, and increase their income.  I guarantee if you were to get an honest answer from your staff about their New Year’s resolutions at least half of them would include some kind of career aspirations. 

With these two competing forces it becomes clear that organizations need to work hard to retain valued staff members.  The key to retaining these staff members is to be able to offer opportunity while not breaking the corporate piggy bank.

So what can I do to retain my staff?

The answer to this question used to be simple.  Give raises, and if you can’t offer raises, throw a worthless “title advancement” at the team member.  There are two problems with this approach; one you don’t have heaps of money to hand out; two, employees have learned the “no value title” trick. 

Here are some suggestions on meaningful things that you can do to help keep your team satisfied.


It may surprise you to learn that while many team members repeat the mantra “I want a raise”, they actually care about many aspects of their career including how their employer perceives them and how they perceive themselves. 

Nobody wants to be “just another number”.  Take time to praise your employees when they perform well on specific duties.  Let them know that the organization values their contribution.  Don’t forget to include “above the call of duty” items in their annual appraisal.

Growth Opportunities

Ever been stuck in a dead end job?  Doesn’t feel good does it?  If it doesn’t feel good for you, how do you think your team members feel?  Not only is it discouraging to do a repetitive job over and over again it is even more discouraging to feel like “I will be doing this forever”.  Paint a clear picture of the advancement trail you see for your team members.  Clearly outline what milestones need to happen to make the growth possible.  Again, make these clear at annual review time.

Work Life Balance

Imagine a team member that is unhappy with their job and thinking about looking for new opportunities.  Now imagine that not only do they have a job that makes them unhappy 40 hours a week, but rather they have a 50 hour a week (often more if weekends are included) that they are unsatisfied with. Are you surprised that they are considering a transition?

Maybe you can’t reduce their work load but maybe you can give them something they value even more.  Is it possible to give them a day or two working from home?  Can you introduce a “mandatory electronic disconnect” policy two weekends a month?  Use your imagination to come up with something that will work within your organization’s constraints. Studies show that not only will you have more satisfied teams, but their productivity will go up when they are working.

Non-Salary Financial Incentives

So your organization can’t or won’t cough up the dough for big raises huh?  Elusive bonuses that are tied to organizational performance that never happen are so 2005. But maybe there is a way you can financially incent your team members without breaking the bank.  The right approach will vary by organization; Again, be creative; Here are some ideas:

  • Have your company come up with some $50 American Express gift cards;  Each time a client praises one of your staff’s performance, they get a card;
  • Each month the team votes for an MVP;  That MVP gets rewarded with a gift card ( consider a rotation rule, like “nobody can win two months in a row”);
  • It’s been an exceptionally tough month for your team in meeting a key deliverable; the team is overworked and exhausted; organize a team outing on a Friday; if it’s a creative team, maybe it’s a visit to an art museum; if it’s a tech team, maybe it’s a visit to a laser tag place; Be creative, make it fun!

Remember, these small investments can have a massive impact on team moral and staff retention.

In Closing

Staff retention is not always easy during financially challenging times, but if you don’t work hard to retain your staff, you could end up losing them.

It’s not always easy showing staff appreciation on a limited budget, but small investments can have a massive impact.  After all, what is the cost of obtaining, training and retaining new staff?

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