Why you can't keep people for longer than 18 months

Are you struggling to hang on to your Business Acceptance professionals? Unfortunately, it’s a common problem. The first person leaves, and then the team follows in a spiral of doom.

The first person leaves 

Many firms assume that people leave for more money or because Millennials and Gen Z are too entitled, want too much progression too quickly and won’t sit still. However, if a young professional has managed to secure another job elsewhere offering them more money and giving them more exposure, then why on earth should they stay?

So, why are they leaving? If they are actually being paid more elsewhere, then it could be that you are paying a little under the market rate. However, the main driver here is very often exposure. Especially if you have prioritised hiring ambitious, driven individuals, it’s unsurprising that they’ll want to keep learning, growing and expanding their skills, exposure, and knowledge.

If you keep someone doing conflicts and AML work in a very narrowly defined Business Acceptance role, or even a narrowly defined Conflicts or AML role, they’ll normally end up wanting some broader exposure.

Often, a firm will promise additional exposure during the interview process and it doesn’t quite materialise as abundantly as may have been suggested initially. This will obviously lead to your team members looking elsewhere for these things.

Frustratingly, it’s often the case that there are opportunities within the firm itself, but they just aren’t being offered. For example, if you have someone working in Conflicts who wants AML exposure, offer them a transition to the AML team. Even if this would involve taking a pay cut, it’s worth making the offer.

An internal transfer could add much more value to the role than an external hire as they clearly know, and are interested in, your business. Even if there’s a lot for them to learn, they’ll be a valuable asset to the new team bringing with them all their existing knowledge of how your business works. Yes, this will leave you with a gap in the Conflicts team, but so would losing that team member altogether to another firm, so why not make the most of this resource you already have?

So, it's the breadth of role people are looking for. They want to get involved in project work, regulatory risk exposure, policy procedure, taking ownership of things beyond business acceptance, etc. If they’re not able to find this in their role with you, after 18 months or so they’ll start looking for it elsewhere.

The spiral of doom

In a Business Acceptance unit, the volume of work may be spread across 10 professionals. The first person leaves, and unless they’re replaced immediately, the remaining 9 team members each have to take on more work to meet the same level of demand. The rate of new clients coming in won’t slow down because the team is smaller! 

This will impact them in various ways. Firstly, they’ll need to work more hours and especially if the firm doesn’t pay them overtime they’ll very quickly become frustrated and disillusioned. The team will find themselves with more work, more pressure, higher targets, and no more money to compensate them for this.

This higher volume of Business Acceptance work will also take the place of any other kind of work they may have been doing. Previously, for example, they may have been able to allocate 5% of their workday to non-business acceptance related work, which is providing the broader exposure they want. If this is then taken away after someone leaves the team, they’ll be less, or even less, satisfied with their role. Cue frustration, and ultimately, departure. The spiral of doom ensues, and unless you can hire new staff quickly enough, it will only get worse.

So, check in regularly with the members of your Business Acceptance team and find out what they’re hoping to get out of their role with you. Then, try and fulfil some or all of their requests, or at least meet them halfway. Valuable employees are worth investing in. If you don’t, they’re probably not going to stick around for as long as you’d like them to. 

For more advice on getting the best out of your team give us a call on 0207 117 2542, email us on info@ajfoxcompliance.com, or message us on LinkedIn.

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Posted by: AJ Fox Compliance