Fostering employee motivation and retention during rapid growth

Motivating and retaining employees during a business’s rapid growth trajectory is crucial for success.

As chief people officer, I have the privilege of witnessing first-hand the challenges and opportunities that arise when a rapidly expanding insurance business embarks on an acquisitive journey across Europe.

In this dynamic context, talent retention has emerged as a critical element of our growth and success.

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We take a proactive approach to motivating and retaining employees. Our strategy centres on appropriate connectedness and meaningful storytelling.

When a new business is acquired, it is essential for people leaders to ensure that the culture of the acquired business is protected.

We have to find creative ways to build a sense of belonging for new and established employees to want stay on the journey with us, because finding and keeping great people can’t be left to chance.

I believe our strength lies in our commitment to preserving the identity of the businesses we acquire.

We do not seek to gobble them up and assimilate them into something else entirely. Rather, we invite them to listen to our story and to share their own.

By respecting and valuing the origins and contributions of the companies we acquire, we foster a deep connection that encourages employees to be part of something greater.

It is akin to the concept of playing for both club and country. We understand that our employees have their heart and soul invested in the business they were a part of before we acquired it, quite possibly a business they founded or have been a part of for many years. We respect and cherish that dedication.

We don’t seek to replace their existing loyalty but rather to encourage them to be part of something larger too.

Just like a player who represents Real Madrid on the club level and Spain on the national field, we appreciate and acknowledge that they put on their organisation's shirt every day, and they also wear ours.

By weaving their stories into the fabric of our organisation, we preserve a cohesive and inclusive culture.

Sensitive communication plays a pivotal role in ensuring that everyone feels respected and connected during periods of growth. It can’t be underestimated.

This means recognising that shouting about our rapid growth could inadvertently intimidate some people who may have joined from a small family business, for example.

Or, for those who have longer tenure with PIB, we take care in demonstrating we are passionate about the people and businesses already under our umbrella.

So we communicate our growth successes sensitively, investing in a strong communications team capable of delivering the right messages at the right time.

To ensure the retention of our critical employees who possess invaluable customer relationships and skills, we have implemented a comprehensive strategy.

In the short term, we strive to make them feel valued and supported from day one, through to feeling an emotional connection to us by week three. By nurturing these early connections, we lay the foundation for long-term engagement and growth.

In the medium term – and with an ongoing and unrelenting focus – we’re committed to equity and providing a level playing field by offering consistent benefits and policies across all our businesses.

This includes going beyond legal requirements, such as by introducing paternity leave in regions where it isn’t mandated.

Finally, in the longer term, we recognise the importance of fair rewards and maintaining a compelling employee value proposition.

These elements are fundamental to any business but take on added significance during periods of growth and change if you want to keep a team on the journey with you.

To me, it’s clear that motivating and retaining employees requires a multi-faceted approach that recognises the value of relationships, fosters appropriate connectedness, prioritises communication, and provides equitable opportunities.

By creating collaborative spaces and valuing employees, it’s possible to cultivate a workplace where individuals feel inspired, engaged, and eager to contribute to something bigger. This nurtures a culture that empowers people and supports the bottom line.

Jo Payne is chief people officer at PIB Group