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Key Drivers of Employee Retention

What Employers Must Do To Keep Their Key People Working For Them?

Numerous studies have shown that retaining employees is the best practice. Our research identifies six types of retention drivers:

  • Development: Do people believe they can continuously improve their skills in your organization? In a time when the half-life of skills is five years or less, are they getting both the formal development and on-the-job experiences to remain relevant and advance their careers?

  • Leadership quality: What is the collective effectiveness of leaders in an organization, especially in terms of a person's boss. People leave bosses, not organizations. Inspirational bosses can have a great impact on whether your most valuable people stay with your company.

  • Work environment: The boss has a huge impact on that person's working conditions. The boss can influence factors such as work/life balance; whether the person sees his or her work as meaningful; workplace inclusiveness; and the extent to which cross-functional and cross-organizational collaboration is encouraged.

  • Job performance: Great people want to know how they're doing. Regular feedback is crucial to keeping them. Role clarity can also be important, as well as clarity about goals. Job performance also encompasses how much an individual's skills affect the success of the organization.

  • Compensation: Since A players have the greatest impact on organizational success, it's no surprise that compensation is crucial to retaining them. “People should be paid according to how much value they contribute to the company...," said Ram Charan and his two co-authors in their 2015 Harvard Business Review article titled "People Before Strategy: A New Role for the CHRO." However, compensation is a much more critical retention driver for some leverage roles than for others.

  • Organizational reputation: The final retention driver for A-players is its brand reputation for all key stakeholders: employees, customers, shareholders and society. A company's reputation matters a great deal to A players, they want to work for organizations they are proud of, one that contributes to the well-being of the larger society.

People leave bosses, not organizations. Inspirational bosses can have a great impact on whether your most valuable people stay with your company.

Article by Beverly Kaye, founder; Cile Johnson, senior vice president; and Lynn Cowart vice president of quality delivery at Career Systems International, a consulting and training firm that has helped companies retain and develop their most important talent for more than 30 years.


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