Recruiting and retaining staff are the top priorities for medium-sized businesses when faced with challenges to their businesses, according to research from Bankwest.
Bankwest’s Business Leaders Report, published today, found approximately 41% of leaders in mid-size businesses identify the recruitment of talent as their top priority when faced with challenges to their business, followed by staff retention at 36.5%.
These people-focused strategies are followed by pricing strategies (36.5%), diversification of products and services (31.8%) and new distribution channels (30.6%).
The study, which interviewed 85 business leaders from mid-size businesses with annual turnover of at least $1 million, also touched on effective leadership strategies, with 59% of respondents reporting focusing on individual staff members and providing coaching and mentoring as the most effective ways of motivating employees.
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However, 70% of respondents said different motivational strategies are needed for junior and senior staff.
While 71% of managers said coaching and mentoring is most effective in motivating junior team members, 73% said senior team members are most likely to be motivated by managers who are good role models.
Likewise, the study found junior and senior team members are motivated by different types of incentives. For junior staff, 58.6% of managers surveyed said providing career progression opportunities is the key to motivation, while 48.3% said senior staff members appreciate cash bonuses the most.
Overall, 51.8% of respondents said they provide flexible working hours as a way to retain staff.
Change Factory consultant Mike Dwyer told SmartCompany the focus of these managers on recruiting and retaining staff is not surprising, as “your people are your best differentiators in the modern business world”.
“It’s a tired saying that people are your best asset, but it’s a tired saying because it’s true,” he says.
Psychologist and CEO of Seven Dimensions Eve Ash agrees.
“Businesses are only ever as good as the people in them,” she says. “As leaders, we need to really hone our recruitment strategies and ensure we get the best people. One job interview or perhaps two may not be enough, as mistakes invariably trace back to the selection process.”
When it comes to motivating junior and senior team members, Dwyer says the generational gap is likely to be one of the factors at play.
“Usually your more junior staff are Gen Y or Millennials, while your senior staff will likely be Gen X or Baby Boomers,” says Dwyer. “So they have different priorities”.
“Gen Y like to see their career progression and where they are going, while Gen X and Baby Boomers, especially those approaching retirement, might be looking at how best to look after themselves after they leave work,” he says.
Dwyer says another factor may be that junior staff members have less experience and, consequently, will appreciate a manager who shares their experience.
Conversely, senior staff members have probably been with the business for some time and therefore “don’t feel the need to be shown the ropes”. For these workers, a cash bonus as recognition of their work could be more appropriate, says Dwyer.
However, Ash says it’s important not to assume that Gen Y workers are all the same.
“Talk to every individual and understand their needs, and ensure they are treated well if you want to keep them,” she says.