Few employees in a family business can boast to have been with their company longer than their boss, but Mr Jason Wong most certainly can.

A senior technical mentor at Atlas Sound & Vision, Mr Wong has been with the company 32 years, no small feat in the highly competitive and demanding retail industry.

In an economy where talent is in high demand and one of the greatest human resource (HR) challenges is staff retention — only 17 per cent of employees in Singapore do not plan to leave their jobs, compared to the global average of 35 per cent according to the Inspiring Talent 2011 Global Survey Report — Mr Wong clearly defies the norm.

Indeed, retail staff at Atlas seem to regularly buck this trend, with many staying with the company for several years.

Research by the Singapore Human Resource Institute found that the top reasons employees in Singapore leave their jobs are because they are unsure of their career progress, and feel there is a lack of career and learning opportunities.

The retail industry also faces these issues, and employees often cite long hours as one reason they leave their jobs.

While a career in retail can be rewarding, progression can be slow and career advancement opportunities are often not clear. Unsure about their career path, employees consequently tend to lose motivation and leave for greener pastures.

To address these issues, Atlas put in place several HR policies focusing on staff welfare, career advancement as well as employee education. For example, to combat the issue of long hours, Atlas worked with its retail staff to develop a schedule that works for both parties.

The result is a shorter work schedule, in which staff get eight days off for every 28-day work cycle.

A people development scheme has also been implemented, where the company sponsors further education for its employees without bonding them to the firm. The only requirement is that the candidate has to identify two replacements within the company who are a good fit for his role, in case he changes his mind and decides to leave after his studies.

This option to develop and upgrade skillsets has motivated many employees at Atlas, and enabled them to make progress in their retail career. Many go on to work in other departments in the company.

A prime example of such an employee is Mr Wong, whose passion for audio led him to work in the sales department at Atlas. Now a service manager, he continues to impart his technical knowledge and customer service skills to other employees, ensuring that the company maintains a high standard of service.

As the saying goes, “None of us is as good as all of us.” The success of a company, no matter the industry, is highly dependent on its people. This applies even more so to the retail industry, where financial growth is driven by sales, which are in turn driven by good customer service.

For this reason, it is important that a company invests in the development of its staff, to nurture their talent and keep them motivated.

Ultimately, every company has two groups of customers — internal (staff) and external (consumers). These two interdependent groups are essential to the success of a business and keeping them satisfied will ensure not only talent retention, but also a healthy bottom line for the company.