Ross Clennett Archives | Underwood Executive | Executive Search & Talent Management

How to retain top talent

By | Retention

The recruitment industry is notorious for high staff turnover. Statistics range from 43% (Staff Turnover: A Recruitment Industry Crisis) to the average length of service of a new Recruitment Consultant being 8 months! Ironic for an industry that specialises in recruiting the right staff for their clients to make a buck!

So interesting as I reflect on my recruitment career, that I too left my first recruitment role after exactly 8 months.  I didn’t leave because it was too hard or I wasn’t succeeding, in fact the opposite was true – I was out billing the existing consultants, thriving in a new corporate career and enjoying my interactions with clients and candidates.  I left because of leadership (lack of it) and culture.

I left the industry. I had no other job to go to. I didn’t have a clear idea of what I was going to do. The following year, I was put back on my path to success by two of my mentors Greg Savage and Ross Clennett.  They hired me to assist in the start up of the Adelaide office of Recruitment Solutions and what a refreshing approach! They practiced what they preached; they were only interested in top performance regardless of years of experience or age (I was only 21!). I was treated as an equal member of the team, they believed in me and I delivered what they expected – top performance. The outcome – I loved the culture, was inspired by the leadership and stayed.

Two different examples and two different outcomes based on the same criteria.

Now 9.5 years into leading Entrée Recruitment in Adelaide, I have learnt many of my retention lessons the hard way – through making mistakes in the first place.  I won’t say its fool proof, but I am confident the recipe is working as the average length of service for my consulting team is 5 years.  Some of the key ingredients include:

  1. Recruit the right people – competencies, attitude and culture fit is mandatory.  Forget experience and length of service in a similar role.
  2. Believe in them – assume people want to perform at their best and relate to them as a top performer, don’t expect anything less.
  3. Empower others – being the leader doesn’t mean making all the decisions and that I know best.
  4. Flexibility – give people the tools and freedom to achieve their goals.
  5. Feedback –recognising top performance ensures that it happens again and people learn the most when they are uncomfortable.

How can you retain top talent? It’s not about money and perks such as days off for your birthday and free yoga classes – although nice and staff will appreciate it, it isn’t what gets them to stick around long term. Its 2 things – leadership and culture.

Become a better leader, have great systems and an inspiring culture.  Only then can you attract the top talent that will stay.