Glasshouse Talent™

Retaining Talent

Businesses have a financial incentive to retain top employees. A major portion of a company's wealth is invested in its intellectual capital - the knowledge, skills, and abilities of its employees. Companies lose money when this ''talent'' walks out the door.

One study shows that staff turnover can cost as much as four times the departing person's salary. So how do you retain employees? It's a topic of much contention. In this article we look at some simple yet effective means to build retention.

Through an effective retention strategy, businesses can cut the costs of turnover such as:

  • marketing costs to attract applicants
  • hiring and processing costs
  • lost production costs
  • lost customers
  • inferior quality output
  • lower employee morale
  • inefficiency

Comprehensive retention strategies involve assessing current situations, measuring turnover and retention costs, evaluating retention strategies and programmes, and planning for expected turnover and a changing workforce culture.

Retention strategies must begin at the time of selection and continue through employment. All aspects must be considered in order for a strategy to be fully implemented and effective.

In order to decrease turnover rates, employers must understand the reasons behind defections. By determining the significant factors behind each defection, employers can optimise programmes to best retain valued employees.

Companies must be willing to invest in the efforts necessary to gather this information in order to evaluate for consistencies and opportunities for improvement.

There are four basic components that a retention strategy must address in order to retain top employees:

    Identify and define:
    • Your own organisation's definition of respectful treatment.
      Develop a code of conduct. Give special consideration to diversity. For more on this topic visit
    • A satisfactory level of ability of top management. What works for one business may not work at all for another. Define what will work for you.
    • Methods and procedures for coaching and attaining feedback from management and their teams.
    • Organisational culture and values. Does management know what the vision of the organisation is? What are the values? Can they communicate them?

      More and more people are looking to the vision and values of an organisation to measure ''best fit'' against. It makes sense that if an organisation can clearly articulate where its going and the values that it supports in getting there, then people will have a clearer sense of ''is this me?''. Do I feel good about this? If a clear sense of organisational culture is not shared with employees from the outset, organisations run the risk of being culturally at odds with their employees and often, this is the biggest reason for staff churn.

    Plan and implement:
    • Your organisations policies and position on training and development programmes.
    • Consider personal development opportunities to learn new skills, career advancement opportunities, and job responsibilities.

      Research shows that personal and professional development are the major reasons people choose to change jobs. They are after ''daily meaning'' as well as daily bread. It is important to devise a strategy whereby each manager can talk to their teams about opportunities to learn and develop their skills, training and ongoing career development.

    Create and Communicate:
    • Positive child-care policies and/or flexi-hours
    • Your organisation's policy on convenience to home and ease of commute. Traffic is a very real influence on employee's quality of life - particularly in Auckland.
    • Benefits packages. It's not all about salary of course. These days additional holiday's, flexi-time and assistance saving for retirement can be strong hooks.
    • Relationships with co-workers. Promoting good social relations can be good for morale. Consider what issues you face and ways to prevent or overcome them.

      People lead rich and complex lives outside their working hours. By providing flexible work options and other work-life initiatives, employers can help ensure people can contribute effectively at work and meet their non-work commitments. Employers with a positive attitude to work/life balance who demonstrate it with policies such as flexi-hours, working from home and child-care programmes are increasingly businesses with the lowest levels of churn. For ideas on work/life balance packages visit the work/life balance section of

    Develop policy and actions for:
    • Pay or salary thresholds
    • Recognition for a job well-done and long-term rewards

      Organisations who can offer innovative programmes for rewarding staff, even if they can't pay the highest salaries will often have high levels of retention.

To build a successful long-term retention strategy, organisations must take into account each component above and incorporate appropriate policies, actions and measures into its retention strategy.

Visit for ideas on workplace retention through work and life balance and in particular, through embracing diversity. Many practical case studies and tools abound to inspire fresh thinking.