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How to Improve Global Staff Retention

What makes staff stay at global companies?

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Companies are investing more in their staff than ever before. Over the past 18 months, countless articles and think pieces have told us the importance of valuing employees, prioritising wellbeing and avoiding talent shortages. In lean economic periods, employers will want to ensure this investment is worthwhile by maximising retention rates.

But what factors help to boost an employee’s loyalty to a company and prevent their head turning elsewhere?

Exploring the issue of staff retention, a classic study from a 1973 issue of the Harvard Business Review found that simply fixing what makes people leave does not go far enough. The article found that a lack of a holistic understanding of staff retention covered up potential inertia of employees who were actually dissatisfied at work: “…the fact that an employee stays on a payroll is meaningless; the company must also know why he stays there.”

Although the study was published long before the age of globalisation, the key point is still valid. Without understanding what the appeal of your company is to employees, your attempts at retention may not go far enough – and may even disguise job dissatisfaction. A global company investing substantial sums in the compliant employment of remote workers needs to establish why staff stay, before working to boost that longevity to justify the resource outlay.

Why do Mauve’s staff stay?

As a global company with a quarter-century of operations under its belt, Mauve Group is uniquely positioned to explore the meaning of staff loyalty to a global business.

Our organisation has an annual retention rate of 98%, with every department boasting an employee with at least 10 years’ service, and many with 20 years+. With staff based across 6 continents, the reasons behind their desire to stay with the business are varied.

With the words of the Harvard Business Review’s researchers in mind, we surveyed Mauve’s international workforce to find out what makes them stay put. We asked what their top priority was when it comes to loyalty to an employer and longevity in their roles – read on for our top 5 findings.

1 = Supportive Management

24% of workers surveyed confirmed a supportive management structure as the most important attribute keeping them loyal to a global company.

With the backing of their manager, employees have greater confidence in their work and feel freer to innovate. This makes them less likely to feel stifled and seek out other roles.

Remote employees situated outside centralised office locations reap the benefits of supportive management. A supportive leadership style is more hands-on than simply delegating tasks and awaiting results – so it is easy to see the appeal for a global workforce. Managers who support and empower their workers through the production of a piece of work keep in regular communication, promote strong team bonds and ensure none of their staff feels isolated. This is valuable when teams are situated across multiple countries.

Supportive managers will also play a big role in succession planning, training their direct reports to eventually move up the paygrades. Having a supportive manager in your corner is conducive to a better working life – whether that is in negotiating pay rises, overseas moves, flexible working practices and so on.

1 = Competitive salary and benefits

Tied for first place priority for Mauve staff is competitive salary and benefits, with 24% of the vote. Although much recent research suggests positive company culture is more important to workers than salary, this is not always the case when it comes to retention and longevity.

Millennials and Generation X-ers make up the largest proportion of the global workforce. As these generations have grown older, their financial responsibilities have increased – as has the cost of living in most countries. While many seek out strong company cultures when they look for a role, employees are still acutely aware of their value and are more likely to stay loyal to a company if they feel adequately compensated.

Remote workers sometimes miss out on in-person, non-financial benefits of good company culture, such as socials, office perks and camaraderie. A competitive salary package will go some of the way to satisfy staff separated from traditional office settings.

3. Being recognised, praised and rewarded for success

Validation for positive impact at a company is also important to global workers. In our survey, 16% of Mauve staff indicated that receiving praise and reward was a key factor in determining their longevity. Rewards might come in the form of increased responsibility, internal promotions, or even simply vocal recognition for positive contributions.

Sometimes this reward might be financial. Leaders at global companies should benchmark bonuses and commissions against local expectations, to ensure they are correctly pitched and will not have a detrimental impact on morale.

Where employees are spread over a number of countries, good internal communications should step in to ensure they are credited properly for their successes. Whether this is through well-devised appraisal processes, internal awards, or even simply shout-outs on internal platforms, it serves to show appreciation for the effort put in.

4. Opportunities for growth and progression

When ambitious employees reach the ceiling of where they can go at a business, they will have no choice but to look elsewhere.

This priority, ranked first by 12% of surveyed respondents, goes hand-in-hand with themes of reward we have previously explored. Global employees want to know that they have a potential upward trajectory in skills or position if they are planning a longterm career with an organisation.

High longevity rates of staff can sometimes hamstring opportunities for career progression – if employees do not leave, there can sometimes be fewer vacancies to be filled by internal promotions. However, global companies often provide greater opportunities for growth and progression than domestic ones. Global expansion can lead to lateral “promotions” or assignments into new markets, with the opportunity to expand skillsets and work on different types of projects.

5. A healthy work life-balance

Workloads have increased exponentially in the past year as the pandemic set in – as the writer Joanna Biggs suggested in her 2015 book All Day Long: A Portrait of Britain at Work, work is too often “how we give our lives meaning when religion, party politics and community fall away.”

8% of Mauve’s survey responses showed that heaping heavy workloads on to time-poor workers might be an oversight when it comes to staff retention rates. Workers want to feel that their employers respect and make space for their life outside of work. With much in the media pointing to an increasing trend of employee burnout, it is in employers’ interests from a productivity angle as well as staff retention to actively promote a positive work-life balance. Employers that help their workers switch off will be rewarded by refreshed, happier workers – who will in turn be more inclined to stay.

Value breeds loyalty

From the findings of our survey, it seems that the question of value is reciprocal in employee retention. If companies demonstrate value through rewarding their employees in the above ways, employees will reward them with loyalty.

Most companies successfully keeping employees long-term will combine a mixture of these top priorities in their retention strategies – accounting for individual variances in staff needs. The key is an awareness of what employees actually need.

When a global company understands what incentivises employees to stay, they can funnel their resources down these avenues – boosting productivity, increasing morale and protecting an experienced global workforce.

Want to learn more about incentivising a global workforce – salary benchmarking, benefits consultancy, statutory local compliance and more?

Or maybe you’re considering taking the leap and expanding your business overseas. Get in touch with our team of experts and we’ll explain everything you need to know.