Developing a retention strategy

The development of a retention strategy parallels developing resourcing strategies (see article 20) including both short-term and long- term planning, and an awareness of why employees join, stay or leave: more pay, better career prospects and opportunities, work-life balance, and family-friendly policies.

An effective retention strategy should be flexible and responsive. It should not be a one-size-fits-all approach: the one-third of staff actively looking for new jobs within two years of joining may not have them same requirements (e.g. career development) as longer-serving staff.

The cost – or rather savings – of retention, particularly the cost and impact of employee turnover, are also worth establishing, if only as a powerful tool in building the business case for winning support for effective retention initiatives.

There are only two ways people leave jobs: they are either ‘pulled’ – by a better job, or changing circumstances – or ‘pushed’ by dissatisfaction with their current job or employer, typically by lack of career development or training opportunities, often by personal work factors: people join organisations but leave managers.

Pull factors are outside employers’ control, but there are many common push reasons for employees to leave which can be addressed:

• poor recruitment, selection, induction or onboarding

• dissatisfaction with supervision, management, organisation policies, procedures, communication, decision-making and involvement

• lack of personal development/training opportunities (organisational structure, size of the business)

• lack of career development and promotion, absence of talent management

• issues with job satisfaction, job design, work environment, culture or values

• inadequate appraisal, feedback and recognition (lack of performance management)

• dissatisfaction with money, rewards and benefits, lack of innovation and creativity

• work-life balance, stress, concern about relationships with others, team working.