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Employee Retention Strategies


Discover how to proactively combat turnover in your organization.

By University Alliance
Employee Retention Strategies

Many successful businesses encourage competitive, challenging environments where the potential for success is valued by employees. Employees who thrive under these conditions tend to be intensely ambitious and frequently seek out new opportunities. With no strong employee retention program in place, it can be difficult to retain these valuable employees.

Employee retention issues are often overlooked until the company realizes that a valued employee may be leaving, at which point they offer some kind of benefit to persuade the employee to stay. While this may offer some short-term effectiveness, it may do little to foster long-term employee loyalty.  

Companies should have a strategic approach to cultivating long-term loyalty. Here are several strategies to help companies increase employee loyalty and prevent turnover.

Develop Long-Term Career Plans

Some businesses focus on short-term goals when hiring new employees, expecting individuals to excel and remain in one specific role. This may not be the case though, as many highly skilled and motivated workers strive to move up the corporate ladder.

“Best-practice organizations work to help individuals plan to stay within the organization - to plan their careers within the organization,” said Elissa Tucker, Human Capital Management Knowledge Specialist at APQC, to Tint.com.

Businesses should meet with current and prospective employees and plan how they can achieve their long-term professional goals.

Invest in Line Managers

The success of retention strategies depends largely on how managers handle them. According to Steve Miranda, Managing Director of the Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies at Cornell University’s ILR School, 80% of employee turnover is caused by managerial issues.

Successful managers must learn how to motivate employees to succeed and not just improve their performance. They should also maintain open communication about their employees’ future career goals.

Hire Retainable Workers

Not all employees thrive in competitive environments. Tucker suggests collaborating with managers and high-performance workers to determine the type of personality, skills and experiences found in retainable employees. Once these are established, make sure to follow the guidelines when hiring any new employees for those particular positions.

Investigate Underperformance

In the event of underperformance, Miranda recommends investigating the problem before simply eliminating the employee. There are typically three drivers behind employee underperformance.

  • Behavior – First, identify the source of any negative behavior. By recognizing the source of the behavior, issues with other current or future employees may be resolved as well. Then work to eliminate the source.
  • Competency – Employees often underperform when promoted into a role they are not ready to fill. This can be addressed with training and education, usually costing less than employee replacement.
  • Personal – These are common causes of underperformance in top workers. Health, financial and marital problems can greatly affect employees’ performance. Managerial support and flexibility are best for driving loyalty in these situations.

Tailor Retention Strategies

A successful retention plan cannot be implemented with a “one size fits all” blueprint. Instead, tailor retention plans to suit each worker’s values. Surprisingly, many of today’s top employees value personal and professional growth opportunities, work/life balance, workplace flexibility and training/education over monetary benefits. Discuss these things with your employees and fine-tune retention strategies individually.

Businesses can attract and retain great workers by offering salaries as much as - or more than - their competitors. Every few years, determine what competitors are paying for identical positions and adjust compensation plans accordingly. Depending on the industry, this can be done by informally asking competitors’ employees about their payment plans or hiring an outside consulting firm to provide an objective analysis.

Category: Human Resources