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By Kelly Keller
September 1, 2016

The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: “How do you keep your best employees?” is written by Kelly Keller, a market managing partner for PwC in the Pacific Northwest.

Retaining talent is more art than science. There is no right formula, but there are tremendous benefits to exploring what it is that keeps people satisfied. Developing a culture that is not merely about meeting metrics is crucial and leaders have an opportunity to create an atmosphere where professional success and individual fulfillment are not at odds. Here’s how:

Let your true self show

Bring your whole self to work. As a wife and mother of two boys, I am open about my needs in meeting the competing demands at the office and at home. Your kids, spouse, parents, pets, etc…, are a part of who you are. Embracing and sharing this helps develop meaningful relationships with your employees, colleagues, and clients. I’ve never considered it a weakness to be a working parent balancing swim meets and audit committee meetings. Consider it a competitive advantage and a different way to connect with people and to develop critical skills like patience and humility, skills that are essential at home and transformative in the workplace.

Embrace change

The “new normal” is a workforce increasingly comprised of working parents. By allowing people the flexibility to work where and how they need, leadership can foster and retain talent while cultivating a lasting sense of loyalty. Valuing the people who make up your organization means enabling them to flourish outside of the office.

In our most recent millennial survey, it came as no surprise to me that flexible work arrangements, along with opportunities for career progression, are top factors that make an employer attractive. To prevent strong talent from walking out the door, don’t allow the traditional constraints of the workday obstruct a flexible work arrangement. According to the Future of Work survey conducted by PwC, people who are able to work from home at least one day per week are twice as likely to give their jobs the highest rating on the “happiness scale” as opposed to those unable to work remotely. It can be challenging to learn how to manage effectively when your team has different and non-traditional schedules, but taking the risk ultimately increases productivity and performance instead of stifling it.

Invest in people

As millennials surpass GenExers as the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, creating a team environment, often with minimal hierarchy, is crucial. It promotes trust when employees feel free to talk to colleagues at all levels.

Furthermore, mentoring not only helps identify high performers and promotion opportunities, it is an investment that generates big returns in the form of deeper personal relationships and trust. Employees also feel they can be open when they are considering moving on to another opportunity. Although it hurts to lose talented people from the team, often times it becomes a chance to help someone discover a new position in the organization. In the end, it’s better to lose talent from the team than from the organization. Even if they do decide to leave, remaining supportive means lasting business and personal relationships and the potential that an exceptional employee might return.

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