CRITICAL PATH II: Effective Retention Strategies, by Charles Parnell

There is continuing discourse in all sectors (public, private, healthcare and non-profit) regarding the effective retention of talented employees. There is consistent agreement that this activity is more problematic and challenging than hiring these people. The retention of employees is a Human Resources strategy that contributes to the effectiveness of the organization. Effective employee retention results in lower costs associated with turnover, increased customer and employee satisfaction, increased productivity and quality of products and financial success. The challenge of effective employee retention has been enhanced because many organizations are competing in a global marketplace that has robust competition as an underpinning. The retention and increase in market share (and even survival) are directly related to the attainment of strategic goals. Talented employees contribute significantly to the achievement of these goals.

The following are strategies for effective employee retention:

  • Hire the “right” employee – utilize various tools to assess skills and organizational fit
  • Onboarding – this process must provide a precise picture of the organization -including its vision, mission and core values
  • Establish clear expectations – cannot be any doubt as to what is expected of them – job tasks and behavior
  • Allow employees to utilize their skills to learn, do and become
  • Provide employees with meaningful work
  • Create career challenges and upward mobility opportunities
  • Encourage creativity and innovation in job functions – including decision making and problem-solving
  • Develop and execute a program of professional development
  • Create a culture of open communication
  • Create a culture of fairness and equitable treatment
  • Create a culture of inclusion – employees want to be “in on things” – goal setting, problem-solving, and decision making
  • Provide platforms for employees to speak their minds freely
  • Provide quality management or supervision
  • Ensure they feel valued
  • Foster respect
  • Provide an organizational culture that incorporates their core values – to the extent possible
  • Pay market or better pay rates and benefits
  • Create and execute an effective reward and recognition program
  • Create and execute a feedback loop – positive and developmental
  • Encourage work/life balance

Reducing turnover and retaining superior talent is critical. It can be the most challenging component of running a successful business. This is particularly true in leading a multi-generational workforce. Organizations will need to be innovative and creative in their interactions with their employees. The research indicates employees want to primarily learn, do and become. They want to be “in on things” – goal setting, problem-solving and decision-making. Additionally, engaging and retaining employees is and will continue to be a function of “fit” with the organizational culture. The challenge of retaining superior talent will decide which organizations remain competitive and grow in this century and beyond. It’s a huge concern of the total organization – external customers and stakeholders as well.


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