How to… keep your best employees

21 November 2014
How to… keep your best employees

The economy is now moving, but unfortunately so are your people. Jon Reed of Purple Cubed gives his tips on how to retain your best talent

The economy is picking up, more hotels and restaurants are opening and the hospitality sector is flourishing. However, along with this success comes the risk
of losing your best people.

Last month, results from the inaugural Best Places to Work in Hospitality awards, created by The Caterer and Purple Cubed, found that a third of hospitality employees are ready to leave their employer right now.

This is a worrying statistic. New research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development estimates the average cost of replacing an employee at almost £5,000, based on both direct and indirect costs of departure. And this figure can be at least 10 times that for a senior employee.

However, it has been found by numerous studies that salary is not the ultimate driver. To retain staff, employers must tap into and deliver the innate drivers of employee motivation: inspiring leadership, open communication, opportunities to develop, shared values, and a clear career path. There are many innovative ways to incorporate these into your people strategy, and opposite we outline just three.

You can also take advice from this year's Best Employer Catey award winner, Mike Williams, people development director at De Vere Hotels and Village Urban Resorts. In a video clip he explains how he not only helped grow EBITDA by £3m, but saw almost a £1m saving through reduced recruitment spend, increased engagement and halving his labour turnover. Go to - to watch the video.

Jon Reed is operations director at Purple Cubed, which helps grow organisations through a contemporary, results-driven HR strategy, delivered through cutting-edge technology and highly engaged people. For more information,

Three ways to keep staff happy

1. Get under their skin

By far the best way to retain people is to get to know them - what they are thinking, feeling, and working towards. However, people engagement trends continue to highlight communication as the number one employee frustration.

So although it may seem common sense, businesses must make a greater effort to talk and listen to their people and then act on the feedback they are given.

It's like the old adage: if you don't ask, you don't get. Well, if you don't ask, you won't know, and they'll leave. If people can easily tell you their challenges, you will be able to fix them. If they can't, then you won't, and you'll lose some incredible talent.

Are you providing ample opportunity for employees to offer their thoughts, views and ideas? Do you know whether their needs are being met? Do they receive enough communication from the organisation? Are they happy? If you don't know the answers to these questions, it's time to review your communication channels and the way you use them. Employee opinion surveys, performance reviews and one-to-ones all provide an easy opportunity to get under the skin of your people. This small act can, in the longer term, be more powerful than any other retention initiative.

2 Give back to the community

As work and personal lives increasingly converge, there is a growing desire among employees to derive a greater purpose from their work. Employees are
demanding the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution and, as a result, they are actively searching out employers who make a difference.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has therefore become a popular retention strategy. Whether that's naming Hospitality Action as your charity of the year,
cleaning up the River Thames or giving your team a day a year to spend in their community.

Not only has CSR been found to satisfy the motivational desires of high-potential employees, it can be cost-effective too - not-for-profit organisation Net Impact found 45% of employees would take a 15% pay cut for a job that helped them make a social impact.

If you are yet to create a CSR policy, first decide what it means to your business. Ask your people to help you define it and ensure it links to your values and culture. Then agree what it will involve - whether it's a company-led initiative or giving time to individuals to support their own personal causes - and set clear
guidelines around the 'how'.

It's important to be realistic about your chosen activity, otherwise you run the risk of disengaging people. For example, Whitbread may have the means to create a £7.5m charity pot to fund the development of a clinical wing at Great Ormond Street, but it's unlikely that John's Fish 'n' Chip Shop would be able to. Start simple and then build. Looking at local community initiatives is a good starting point. And don't forget to communicate to your people - what's happening, how they can get involved and the successes so far.

3 Hire right first time

Retaining someone starts from recruitment. If you don't hire the right person first time, it will always be a battle to engage and keep them. It's vital that those doing the hiring understand exactly who you are as a business and what you stand for - your culture and values.

Once deemed a fluffy HR term, 'values' are now a fundamental part of a successful business. This information is your secret weapon, so put it in job adverts, add it to your website and ask questions about values in interviews.

Check that an individual's personal values are aligned to those of the organisation - usually if something isn't right, it's down to a values-clash. Ask yourself, 'Would I go for a coffee with this person?' 'If they were hired by someone else, how would we feel?' - if the answer is yes and you would be devastated,
you've found your person.

Enter the Best Places to Work in Hospitality now

The hunt is on for the 2015 Best Places to Work in Hospitality. The top 30 employees in our rankings will be recognised with an award for being a Best Place to Work - a vital differentiator when it comes to recruitment and retention. Plus, each of the top 30 has the chance of winning the 2015 Best
Employer Catey.

The entry process is simple and each entrant has the benefit of a confidential staff survey, which can be used to streamline people practices and improve performance.

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