Retain talent despite their new year’s resolution

The New Year is officially here and with it comes new business opportunities. It is a time to reflect on your organization’s progress over the past 12 months and plan how to develop it in this year of new beginnings. As business owners and managers across the Middle East make New Year’s resolutions in favor of change, employees may be making similar declarations. Your top talent might make a resolution in January to look for a new job in another company, for example. At this time of year, what can you do as a manager to avoid losing talent?


The Issue of Employee Retention

High turnover rates can devastate a company. While employee turnover is a natural part of a business in any sector, an inordinate rate can be costly for a business, both financially and timewise.


The money invested into an employee who later abruptly leaves can be substantial when you factor in education, training, and licencing costs. A great deal of time is spent recruiting and interviewing candidates to replace the worker who leaves, not to mention the several months that it typically takes for a new worker to learn the job in its entirety. The unexpected event can also negatively affect other workers’ moods.


Trusting Relationships are Key to Retaining Top Talent

To avoid these issues that stem from employees leaving a company at the beginning of the year, a manager must maintain an environment that supports employees. Just as a business puts a lot of work into attracting the right talent, they also must focus on keeping that talent.


A winning employee retention strategy involves more than just competitive pay. The key to retention is trust, both in the company and in other employees. This statement appears to be supported by Gallup, an American research-based consulting company, as follows.


When Gallup conducted a multiyear investigation of workplace dimensions, including employee retention, the organization said that “The development of trusting relationships is a significant emotional compensation for employees in today’s marketplace. Thus, it is easy to understand why it is such a key trait of retention.”


Indeed. In addition to gaining financial compensation from a company, employees also seek to form a meaningful relationship built on trust with their co-workers. Such relationships can strengthen workers’ allegiances to a company.


Staff Retention in the UAE

For you, as a leader, the New Year is not only a good time to make improvements in areas such as business planning and promotion but also when you should assess and reflect on why particular staff want to leave your company. While this article focuses on providing tactical actions for managers to do at this point, when employees are likely to leave, you should also enact strategic actions to improve your talent retention all year round.


In the UAE, the majority of businesses have a high staff turnover and a workforce that is more transitory and younger than workers in European countries. Thus, staff retention can provide a competitive edge to your company, helping it to stand out in a competitive industry.


Our Connecting Perspectives team often are asked by UAE-based businesses to deliver sessions at end-of-year corporate get-togethers. Such sessions provide valuable opportunities to build bridges between the departments within companies. When we meet privately with a company’s leader, we also share other ways to avoid losing talent once the New Year arrives.


Potential Actions by Managers

There are several actions available to managers and below are the ones that Connecting Perspectives suggests as they are generally the most effective for businesses based in the UAE. The below activities serve across the board and can be very useful for the cases where you have not identified a risk of leaving. Likely these workers are looking for new and challenging projects. Of course, if you identify a specific staff member is at risk for leaving the company, the best response would be that you address a staff member individually about this concern.


Six useful potential actions for managers to take, in no particular order, are:


Share Success Stories – Share personal stories of success from 2015, along with aims for 2016. Ask employees to share their stories, in a narration format, either via the Intranet, a physical poster board, or another means.


We have seen these activities yield very good results in terms of trust building and staff satisfaction. Best practice is also for you as a leader to share your story too. Storytelling is very deeply ingrained in Arab culture, which makes this particular strategy a welcomed one by employees.


Temporary Job Rotation In this approach, two staff members from different departments swap their jobs for a month or another specified period of time. Employee rotation can increase employee interest levels and provide better overall worker development as they learn new skills in the temporary jobs.


Desk Swap When staff choose to take their holidays, a desk swap helps the remaining employees stay connected in spite of the empty desks in departments all over your building.


To improve communications, one strategy we suggest to companies is to enact a policy that while an employee is on holiday leave that a different employee from another department fills that empty desk temporarily. This rotational strategy provides a unique opportunity for your employees to build new relationships, which leads to trust and, in turn, strengthens worker retention.


Share Company Goals Explicitly share company strategy goals, specifically for 2016, with staff members. The discussion can motivate employees and strengthen their company loyalty. By telling them about the direction of the company, they are also likely to feel they are part of something bigger than themselves, which is exciting, and this feeling encourages them to remain with the company throughout the year to help it to reach the communicated objectives.


Start open Dialogues Another way managers can improve employee retention rates is by starting a dialogue with staff members. The New Year is a good time to get close to your employees and understand their real drivers and what are their current motivations.


Avoid just asking them what drives them and instead start the dialogue by telling them about your drives. Open first, enquire later. This rule has worked for many of our clients successfully at this time of year.


Conference Attendance Encourage staff members to attend conferences in the first quarter. These professional events provide amazing occasions to further each attendee’s personal and career development.


Aside from learning, an obvious benefit of conference attendance, employees will also value the investment you make in them and enjoy the opportunity to network with people in the same industry at the conferences. They will bring back valuable content to share with people at the company who didn’t attend the same conference too, which can strengthen co-worker relationships.


Closing Thoughts

The strategies you use to retain talent in your company are best put into action before you receive word that an employee is a high risk of voluntarily leaving. Prevent a sudden leave by keeping your best and brightest talent satisfied and closely engaged with one another as well as with the company.


A great time to focus on retaining your workforce is in the New Year, a time of year when some employees make resolutions to look for new jobs. By using one or a combination of the six strategies listed above, under the guidance of a consulting firm (either Connecting Perspectives or another one of your choice), you can retain valuable employees who are key to the successful growth of your company.


About Dr. Jordi Robert-Ribes

Jordi Robert-Ribes (PhD) is the Founder Connecting Perspectives, which offers conferences and workshops aimed at companies seeking ways to increase their business opportunities. He enables effective collaboration within companies. He inspires professional connections through his method, Connecting Perspectives. His vision has allowed him to work in various disciplines in different countries.


Dr. Jordi coined the term “bridge building” to symbolize the development of relationships between members of different teams or departments.


His own methodology features in his hands-on performances (ExperienTalks™) delivered at companies worldwide and taught at internationally renowned universities in English, French and Spanish. 



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *