In recent times we have been made aware that there is no such thing as “a job for life” and that we are now living in a short-term working culture. In line with this, employee retention in the insurance industry has become a major issue. Salary and promotional opportunities are no longer the primary reasons a person stays with a company. Employees desire a rewarding job, one that matches their skills and ability and also gives them recognition and respect. While companies are paying close attention to the initial attraction of staff, they are not always doing enough to retain them.

In this increasingly tight labour market, employers need to take responsibility for holding on to key staff. It is essential to communicate to employees how they can benefit directly from the company's success. Also, employers must invest in the training and development of employees, promote the balance between life and work and ensure regular reviews and continuous learning for all staff. When a company gets the formula right, people are much less likely to leave.

It is essential to see training as an investment rather than a cost, as it is said to increase employee loyalty and productivity. Employees need to know that their employer values them, and is willing to invest in improving their career prospects by expanding their skills in this multi-skilled environment. The downside of this, however, is the occasional employee taking advantage of excellent training facilities with the clear objective of making themselves more marketable and quickly moving on to a
new job.

Another process that improves relations between the employer and the employee is the practice of more structured company appraisals. It seems both parties underestimate the value of regular reviews. If you feel you don't get enough reward or recognition for your efforts, or you feel your job title does not represent your responsi-bilities, you should be encouraging regular appraisals as a way of discussing your problems. Employers in turn will admire your enthusiasm and determination to make your job work for you. The appraisal should focus on past performance as well as future plans for development, giving the employee a sense of place and belonging in the workplace.

The money side

Renumeration is another key issue, which comes to the forefront when considering staff retention. However, not all people are motivated by money alone. Most employees are attracted to and stay with companies that offer personal development, challenging work and a healthy environment. Employers should combine financial reward with opportunities, to promote feelings of achievement and involvement. Companies have to become more imaginative in the rewards and incentives they are offering to employees. For example, many people want flexibility in their working day to avoid the stress that can often occur as a result of long hours.

Striking the balance between one's career and home life is key in today's dynamic corporate environment. Individuals need to take responsibility for their own personal agenda, but it is important for companies to play a part in helping staff to achieve harmony in their lives. Work-related stress is one of the biggest health problems in the UK, estimated to be responsible for six million days' sick leave annually. Employers are now beginning to recognise that alleviating stress can be cost effective, reduce absenteeism and lead to lower staff turnover. It is essential for management to set reasonable and appropriate workloads, in a monitored and controlled environment. Performance appraisals, channels for employee concern and staff support systems are also important considerations that employers should embrace. Companies must commit to employees if they expect the same in return. Work-life balance programmes, adequate investment in staff and reassurance of job security should all be priorities.

For success, every organisation depends on the competence of its people. Motivating staff and building employee relations is vital to ensure individuals that they are making a difference.

The most successful companies can attract the best employees and also to retain them for long enough to develop their potential to the maximum. Some companies invest a vast amount of resources in people, and many employers genuinely care about the opinions and ideas of employees. Through communication, feedback and sharing, staff can highlight the positive aspects and the areas within the organisation that need improvement.

All these factors lead to greater staff retention and improved morale within a company. Retaining key staff leads to the subsequent retention of a top-quality client base and the result is positive for all concerned.