Retaining key employees through change

Losing staff who resist the change process is one of the biggest risks in managing business change. The staff who make the greatest contribution to your business are usually heavily invested in their role and your business operations. Often these staff are the most challenged by change processes.

Your key staff may find they need to change strongly held beliefs about the purpose of your business or the way your business runs. Finding ways to help them adjust to changes will help you reduce staff turnover during and after your business change. Consider these tips for retaining key employees through change.

Target key staff – not just star performers

The key employees in your business are not necessarily the star performers. Your business needs a balanced range of skills and knowledge to run effectively. Consider your goals and drivers for change and your future directions. What skills are going to be important to your business? Identify staff in each area of your business who work effectively and have skills and expertise that your business will need in the future.

Consider tailored incentives to retain key employees

Once you've identified the employees who will play an important role in your business's future, work with your management team to identify the needs, interests and aspirations of your key team members.

Consider offering incentives that match their goals and needs. Your incentives don't have to be financial—they simply need to be well matched to the needs of you and your team members. Be creative. Examples of incentives might be:

  • promotion opportunities in the preferred fields of motivated team members
  • leave entitlements that help team members manage particular demands in their personal or family lives
  • business travel opportunities for restless employees
  • flexible working arrangements for parents with school-aged children
  • training and development opportunities for employees in line with new roles—helping you retain skills and ready your business for necessary process changes.

Taking steps to meet the particular needs of your team members will demonstrate your commitment to supporting them through the change process.

Identify low-priority skills

Through this process, you may also identify skills in your organisation that are not well matched to the future needs of your business. Consider offering redundancy packages to those in roles or fields that your business no longer needs.

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