The most important resource any company has is human resource. Profit, customer satisfaction, shareholder confidence, competitive edge, market dominance—everything rises and falls on the humans that drive your organization. It is thus simple logic that if your company gets it right with human resourcing your chances of getting all other targets right is remarkably higher. The opposite is true as well, if you get human resourcing wrong.

Jim Collins shares an important maxim in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't. He said, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” The bedrock of great companies is great people. An organization that is able to keep great people for long enough secures her future. If you want to move your organization from just being good to becoming truly great, keep great people for as long as you can.

How? Here are 7 tested rules for achieving this for businesses everywhere, especially those that trade in emerging markets like Nigeria.

  1. Hire Great People
    • You have to start here—it is that simple. You need to perfect the art of finding great people who are worth keeping, right from the recruitment stage. There are two very important points here. One, it is a waste of time and resources to hire just anybody and spend years trying to figure out if they are great or ordinary; pay upfront, spend the time and money to determine this before you bring them into your company.

      The second point: great people love to work around other great people. If you hire average people, they will consciously or sub-consciously conspire to make the organization uncomfortable for the few great ones around them and force them out.

  2. Align Company Culture from the Top
    • Fish starts to rot from the head. You cannot keep great people working under mediocre bosses. If you want to retain great staff, your top management has to be really that, top notch. A truly great leader is one that inspires. You need the constant inspiration that flows from the top to keep your people coming to work every day. You need leaders that make the organization worth dying for. This does not mean weak, compromising leadership. It means inspiring, excellent, innovative and disciplined leadership that allows the people below to shine. Consider the opposite: if your top management is filled with selfish, domineering characters or undisciplined, uninspiring weaklings, good people will leave.
  3. Give Employees a Future
    • To keep employees from quitting, you need to show them a future in your company. Employees need the assurance that their future is secure with your company. You need to have a clear career ladder that spans at least a decade. If you want your people to stay for decades, show them that you have at least a decade long plan for them.

      An employee needs to be able to see herself rising through the ranks year after year. Everybody loves growth and progress. There are many innovative ways to do this, so research them and find the one that best suits your company.

  4. Pay a Good Salary
    • You should not expect employees to stay when you throw them peanuts as salary. Some establishments in Lagos still pay 10,000 Naira as monthly salary! If your business can only pay your staff 10,000or any such beggarly pittance per month, you should consider shutting down that business. It is just plain unfair to your staff! Good pay is a necessity, not a convenience.

      You should benchmark salaries with what will, averagely,support a good living per cadre of staff. If you have a culture that is sincerely generous with remuneration, great people will have no reason to leave.

  5. Care about Your Staff, Genuinely!
    • Employees want to know that you care about them as much as the job they do. To reduce turnover, show your employees that you care. Mean it, communicate it, act it out.

      Set up internal systems to genuinely take care of the things that are important to your staff, outside work. Insist on work-life balance, welfare, family, health insurance, pension and vacations. Invest in your staff;invest in training, personal development, health and fitness. Have an organization that cares.

      When you have a culture that is concerned and responsible your people will have no reason to leave.

  6. Give them Ownership
    • To reduce your turnover and increase employee retention, consider ultimately giving Employee Stock Options (ESOPS).

      If for certain reasons you cannot give ESOPS, find other innovative ways to give your staff ownership. Give your staff responsibility, let them take charge. Include them in company plans, keep them abreast of happenings and latest developments, show them how they fit into your plans, let them own your vision. Nothing motivates human beings more than self-interest. Give your employees that sense of ownership.

  7. Ease Transportation
    • If your employees have to wake up at 4am in order to get to work early enough and then return home at 11pm because of traffic congestion, you will have poor employee retention and low staff motivation. Why? Nobody wants to live that kind of life for a decade! Coming to work will quickly become a pain and a burden. And, you know what happens when you feel pain: you run.

      First, try to situate your company close to where the pool from which you recruit lives. When hiring, hire people who live close to your company. Give your employees housing allowance and loans or help them get loans if you cannot afford it.

      Consider providing staff buses or transportation allowance as a palliative. Note that providing a staff bus does not solve the problem if your staff still get home at 11pm on the staff bus.

Will some staff still leave your company after you have done all these? Yes. How should you react to that? Do not be embittered, let them leave. If you have built this kind of culture, you will never run out of good people.

Tobi Eyinade