Retaining key staff – some tips

Your people are your greatest assets.  Of course, unlike many other assets, these ones have legs and sometimes, unfortunately, they use them to walk out on you!  Retaining key staff is one of the most frequent challenges that we come across in our work with ambitious owner managers.

Over the Easter weekend, our MD, Gerard Burke, was quoted in the FT in an article about the challenge of retaining key staff in a growing business.  If you subscribe to the FT, you can read the article at

If you’re not an FT subscriber, here’s the full version of Gerard’s thoughts before it was edited for publication

“The most important point in considering how best to retain key staff is to be very clear about which staff are genuinely key. This is particularly tricky in rapidly growing businesses since the people who helped you get the business off the ground aren’t necessarily the best people to help you grow it to the next stage, who aren’t necessarily the best people to help you take it to the stage after that. In order words, the genuinely key people keep changing as the business grows and changes!

And that’s one of the reasons why personally I’m not a great fan of staff retention methods, such as shares and share options, that tie both parties in for the long term. Such methods also tend to need quite a lot of management time to implement and, of course, cost money in the form of advisors’ fees. Far better, in my mind, to focus on two things that don’t cost much and will deliver immediate and long-lasting returns. Firstly, ensure that your business is a place where people really want to work and where they enjoy working. Secondly, articulate an inspiring vision of the future of the business that you’re trying to create and, most importantly, why achieving that vision will be a hugely rewarding thing for them to be part of.”


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