How to keep good staff from leaving

My friend at Ryanair appears to be in hot water again. Having narrowly averted a strike over the busy festive season, the airline now faces a parliamentary probe into allegations of unfair employee working conditions. Since it’s clear Michael O’Leary doesn’t know how to keep good staff from leaving, I thought I would give him, and you of course, a couple of tips on how to retain your best employees.

Respect them

Treat your employees with dignity and respect, and communicate with them in a mature, professional way. That means no flying off the handle unnecessarily, belittling them in front of their colleagues or instilling fear in the workplace.

Let them get on with job

You have hired staff because you believed at the time they could do the job. So, respect their ability and let them get on with the job. There are a few things more demotivating than being micro-managed. Provided your hiring and training processes are sound, they should be more than capable to get on with the job themselves without your constant interference.

Don’t move the goalposts

Be consistent about your expectations and clear about what success looks like. Try not to change the goals constantly as it’s confusing for staff and frankly, quite unfair. If you do need to change the goalposts, communicate properly why this is the case and enlist their support for the changed goals.

Praise, praise and praise again

 As important as it is to give constructive criticism, so too is it important to praise. Your staff need to know how they’re performing and what they can do better. Publicly recognise good service, innovation and hard work.

Be flexible

 If you can be flexible within the realms of what is required in the role, extend that flexibility to your staff; whether that be working from home or flexible working hours. Your travel staff will reward your flexibility with loyalty and enthusiasm.

Ask them for their views 

Your staff have on-the-ground knowledge of processes, the environment and their customers. To keep good staff, ask them for their views on potential improvements not only in the workplace, but in the product or service you offer. This makes them feel valued and respected.

A more meaningful travel role

Communicate your vision and values so that staff understand what their role is within that and whether their personal values align with that of the organisation. Staff who understand their greater purpose within the company are more likely to be innovative and proactive – not just another number on the payroll, but a meaningful contributor to the company’s success and the happiness of the travel company’s customers.

To keep good staff happy is easier than you think. In the case of O’Leary, a little humility and respect would go a long way to retaining airline employees who want to leave. And who could blame them…

Note: James Roberts spent four years working for British Airways and its subsidiary British Regional Airlines, ending up as a Regional Business Manager. He completed a six-month consultancy contract with Siemens as Travel Manager for their business worldwide, and spent four years with a UK-based travel recruitment consultancy before establishing Progressive Travel Recruitment in 2005.

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