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Career Center: Leadership Strategies for Retaining Top Talent

By Cindy Stephens

Staffing shortages have changed the focus of hiring practices and employee retention strategies. Candidates have great opportunities with many companies attempting to recruit them. Many employees won’t hesitate to leave an organization for a better opportunity. Although understanding the reasons for losing top talent is crucial, having an excellent hiring and retention policy in place is critical.

Many imaging service engineers leave a job because of salary and compensation issues or for opportunities for growth. However, many factors for leaving an organization include “windshield time” and the often-extended time away from their families because of the huge service areas they cover. Work-life balance is a huge factor as well as feeling like a valued member of the organization. Other reasons for leaving include a lack of additional training or a lack of potential career progression.

With the increase in demand for quality imaging service professionals and the decline in available talent for these vital positions, it is more important than ever for leaders to focus on the development and retention of top performing employees. This is especially important for a successful imaging service department.

Effective employee retention strategies should result in attracting as well as keeping key employees who are top performers, reducing turnover and related costs of recruitment and training. Consider the value of attracting and retaining quality talent, rather than continually replacing staff because competitors have more to offer. Ensure your organization is the employer of “choice” and that it can offer more to prospective candidates than the competition.

A successful retention strategy includes key factors such as a competitive salary and benefits, measurable performance objectives, effective communication processes, training and initiatives to encourage employee commitment. Tailor benefits to individual needs.

Effective leadership is a major factor in employee satisfaction, motivation and retention. Leaders who focus on strategies to motivate and inspire employees to contribute to the overall success of the department and organization will strengthen their retention efforts.

Leaders who are supportive and focus more on the needs and expectations of employees will find them to be more engaged and dedicated. Engaged employees have a high level of commitment, loyalty, and passion resulting in high job satisfaction and productive performance.

The first step to employee retention, ensuring new hires are the right fit for the job and the culture of the organization. On-boarding is an important part of the process so the employee understands the importance of the position and responsibilities involved. Leaders should make employees feel valued as well as competent with their new duties beginning with the first day of employment. Ongoing training and competency reviews will help reinforce individual skill sets and proficiency in the position.

Imaging service engineers often enjoy sharing knowledge and skills with other imaging service staff. Therefore, it is a good strategy for leaders to encourage and provide opportunities for sharing this knowledge through in-house training programs, presentations, job sharing, etc. Recognition for hard work and successful completion of special projects is important. A simple acknowledgement of appreciation via a hand-written note, verbal appreciation in front of a group or a gift card goes a long way.

Growth opportunities or a career path for imaging service engineers within the organization will provide long-term retention, too. Encourage and recognize leadership, professional development and other training within the department. Provide funds and opportunities for certification training and accessibility to accomplish the certification. Consider bonuses for completion of specific training and certification. By investing in your team and building on their skills, employees gain a sense of success and accomplishment that they can be proud of.

More than ever before, salary, compensation and benefits are very important. Candidates will go with the company who has the most to offer in salary and compensation as well as the quality of the work environment. When salary and compensation are close for similar positions, candidates will consider other criteria to see which company is the best fit.

An organization’s culture is critical and, in this small industry, reputations are a big consideration, too. After all, most candidates do not want to work for a company with a bad reputation or for a company known for treating employees poorly or not providing appropriate compensation, benefits and a good work-life balance.

Retaining top employees should be a major concern since other competing organizations are going to do whatever they can to hire your best talent for their open positions. If you do not retain top talent, it may impact the level of experience, skills and reliability needed for excellent customer service.

It is especially important for imaging service department leaders to focus on hiring and retention strategies to retain top performing employees in today’s very competitive market.

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