The 3 Key Elements to an Employee-Retention Strategy

Retaining your team is crucial to your organization’s success. Here’s what you can lose if your workforce members leave:

  • Money: Turnover costs one-half to two times one person’s salary.
  • Morale: With people leaving, team members might become overworked to compensate for the lack of workforce. As a result, this may produce low morale and a negative work atmosphere (as well as a greater likelihood that other employees will choose to walk out the door).
  • Productivity: The more seriously team members begin to consider other employment opportunities, the more likely they are to become disengaged and less productive at work. Disengaged workforce members can cost a company with a workforce of 10,000 up to $60.3 million in lost productivity each year.

Avoiding these repercussions requires a robust retention strategy that encourages team members to stick around long term. Below, we discuss the three key elements required in an employee-retention strategy.

Why Is Retention Important?Exit interview

Having team members who are committed to staying for the long haul requires less time and fewer resources because you don’t need to train new staff. This allows leaders to invest in essential areas such as career development, coaching, and mentoring that can sharpen a business’ competitive edge and reputation. More importantly, a high level of retention creates a positive and healthy work culture where contributors have opportunities to achieve their full potential.

In exit interviews, over half of exiting employees say that their manager or company “could have done something to prevent them from leaving.” Thus, there should be no excuse when it comes to building a strategy that encourages your team members to stay with your organization.

The 3 Elements of a Successful Retention Strategy

66 percent of businesses agree that “retention is a growing concern,” so leaders need to be equipped with the right retention strategies. Here are three key elements to help you master workforce retention:

  • Career Development

Career development plays a pivotal role in retention:

    • 94 percent of team members’ decisions to keep or leave their job depend on the career-development opportunities available to them.
    • Over half of workforce members who voluntarily exit their company explain that their leaders did not have conversations with them regarding job satisfaction or their future at the organization.

How to Achieve This

Team leaders should bolster their learning and development efforts in the following ways:

    • Understanding what team members want out of them. Success and career growth mean different things to different people. Be sure to take a personal interest in each team member’s growth by discussing their goals and aspirations. What would they like to learn more about? Is there a specific department in the organization they are interested in? What kinds of skills and expertise would they like to gain? These are just a few examples of questions to discuss with your team members.
    • Tapping into industry trends. Discover what kinds of training and career paths your competitors are offering and use this insight to build a better development program in your organization. Ensure you’re providing team members with quality training opportunities that will help them become top talent in their industry, and don’t forget to couple career progression with increased pay.
    • Encourage cross-training. Cross-training is a great way to drive productive change in your team’s daily routines. Consider having your team members train each other on their roles and even step into different departments. Cross-training not only provides opportunities for individuals to learn additional skills, it can also help them gain a greater understanding of the business. This can give them ideas on where and how they might want to grow at the organization.

For more guidance, read about the nine leadership traits for managing cross-functional teams.

  • Coaching

Fewer than three in 10 workforce members believe they are managed in a way that inspires them to achieve quality results in their role. One way to improve these numbers is to implement coaching. Coaching focuses on bolstering two-way communication and support between managers and team members that has proven to boost retention.

How to Achieve ThisCoaching employees

Coaching focuses on helping team members develop their skills, performance, and career.

Here are some of the key coaching strategies to focus on:

    • Identifying one’s strengths and weaknesses. This will provide a good baseline for finding areas to work on with your team members. Remember, your coaching approach should be customized to each person.
    • Sharing constructive feedback. Understanding how to give helpful feedback is crucial to your team’s success. High-quality feedback is candid yet caring and inspires people to learn and grow.
    • Navigating conflict management. Problems are inevitable in the workplace, and workforce members should be cognitively equipped to handle challenges and conflict. Coaching should cover how to have courageous conversations when challenges arise.

Be sure to participate in coaching workshops to identify key areas to grow as a coach for your team.

  • Robust Onboarding Strategy

First impressions matter. A good onboarding process can improve retention by over 80 percent and productivity by more than 70 percent. The unfortunate news is that only 12 percent of workforce members feel satisfied with their employer’s onboarding process.

How to Achieve This

The onboarding process is crucial to helping new team members feel at home and confident about their future. There are a few ways leaders can help refine their current approach to new-employee orientation:

Defined Road Maps

Have each person’s responsibilities and expectations clearly outlined for their roles. That way, there are no surprises. A clear path forward will help team members prepare for what lies ahead.

Team-Building Retreats and Workshops

Strong employee morale should be developed from day one, and one thing that boosts morale is strong interpersonal relationships at work.

Be sure to engage your entire team in regular team-building activities. These events can offer team members the chance to get to know each other better and work through critical challenges together. Here are a few examples of team-building activities to consider:

    • Outdoor obstacles (e.g., rope courses, spelunking expeditions, etc.)
    • Skill-based workshops
    • Problem-solving activities

Efficient Software Tools

Millennials dominate the workforce today and many are dissatisfied with how their organizations expect them to execute their tasks; one in six Millennial and Gen Z workers left their companies because they weren’t supplied with the right technology.

It’s imperative to keep up with today’s advancements and leverage them to boost your team’s productivity. Look into various HRIS and project-management software tools that could expedite your workflow processes, and check in with other leaders to see what types of technology they are using for additional ideas.

MentorshipManager mentoring an employee

Gallup found a link between having a best friend at work and the level of investment a person has in their work. In addition, Millennials who plan to stay in their roles for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor.

Establish a mentorship program by pairing new hires with seasoned members of your workforce. That way, new team members will have someone they can lean on for support and pose questions to along the way.

Receive Continuous Support from CMOE

Managing a workforce is easier said than done and keeping your team engaged and productive can feel like a daunting responsibility. CMOE exists to support organizations in these endeavors and we proudly offer business leaders the guidance and tools they need to identify and leverage the talents of their workforce. Look into our products and services today.

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About the Author


CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.