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Four Considerations for Employee Retention

Employee retention is about an organization keeping its employees.

Retention and turnover can be measured relatively simply by analyzing the number of people who maintained employment from the beginning to the end of a specified time period (e.g., January 1st through December 31st). With a nationwide talent shortage, a rise in quiet quitting, and budgetary concerns about the high cost of turnover retention, understanding your organization’s retention rate is essential. Like revenue, base cost, and profitability—it can be measured.


  • the continued possession, use, or control of something.
  • the fact of keeping something in one's memory.
  • the action of absorbing and continuing to hold a substance.

Do you know what your retention rate is? Do you care? Has it changed in the last few years? I recently spoke with a CEO whose company has a turnover rate of over 115% and stated that was “just the nature of our industry.” Perhaps this is true in some instances, but high churn rates are usually cause for concern. Lowering an organization’s turnover percentage creates a positive work environment that encourages employees—particularly the more talented ones—to remain for the long haul. Benefits of high retention include increased productivity, substantially reduced recruiting costs and significantly boosted morale. Best-in-class organizations know their ongoing retention rate and set goals to improve it year-over-year.

According to Zenefits, there are a couple reasons why employees say they leave:

  • Lack of recognition or appreciation
  • Job burnout or overwork
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Lack of career growth
  • Missing connection or alignment
  • Uncompetitive pay and benefits

To improve these crucial metrics and boost retention in your organization, I suggest taking the steps outlined below:

Identify high-performing employees

You know them—write down three to five names right now. Confirm the list with your leadership team. Once the names are finalized, talk to these people. Ask them why do they stay? What is it about your company or organization that makes them enjoy working in your group, team, department, or company?

Write down what they tell you and share the items with the leadership team. Take concrete actions based on their input. Make sure your colleagues recognize these actions are based on what you heard and what was requested—people like being heard.

We recently completed this exercise and here are some of the items great employees shared:

    1. Make a Difference

      Employees want to see the link between their work and the company’s success. This can be achieved by placing more responsibility (and therefore trust) in their hands and being transparent about the organization’s challenges, successes, and future direction. Employees who understand how they impact the bottom line will be engaged and stay.

    2. Flexibility

      Work can sometimes be viewed as an obstacle to other aspects of life, even to a dedicated employee. COVID taught us that many jobs can be done remotely and that employees cherish flexibility. For jobs that can be done remotely, you don’t need to see them to know they are productive. Offering flexibility goes a long way toward improving employee trust, retention, and engagement.

    3. Top Notch Leadership

      Employees want to learn from inspiring leaders. According to Ten Spot, 41% of employees say they want to leave their job because of a poor manager. It makes sense, then, that the opposite is true for good leadership. Strong leaders are good mentors who get to know their employees holistically and support their growth within the organization.

    4. Social Responsibility

      Employees are looking for fair and equitable environments to work and live in. Companies that embrace social responsibility around climate change, diversity, equity and inclusion and being advocates for positive change are more likely to retain their employees.

Ultimately, getting to know your employees holistically, both in and out of work, is vital for the retention of today’s workforce. Do you know what each employee wants from their role with the company? Are you aware of their circumstances and situation in life as it relates to their work? Sit down with your employees to set goals for advancement. Offer professional development and training to help them reach their milestones. Implementing benefits that support employees’ diverse needs and allowing employees to select benefits that make sense for them is critical.

Remember, perks don’t equal culture. Keeping your key employees takes more than a few pats on the back and a foosball table. A culture of retention is when your great people recruit and support each other. By retaining employees who rank among your top talent, you're not just keeping your best and brightest around; other employees will be motivated by seeing success and hard work rewarded and, as a result, step up their efforts. Additionally, these employee retention techniques have the potential to create a positive snowball effect on the entire company and the company’s culture.

Watch the video Retention at All Ages to learn more about impacting employees of all generations.