Until recently, turnover and retention have initiated moderate to little interest in the hierarchy of American corporations. Employee turnover and retention issues were more a matter of routine personnel department records and reports than boardroom strategizing. Typically, statistical information was dutifully recorded, studied, then filed.

The current bottom-line value has ushered retention into a position of priority on executive team and boardroom planning schedules. There is an increasing need for HR to become more proactive in its participation with top management to develop a company-wide retention process. What was once considered a bothersome turnover situation has developed into substantive money issues for organizations. 

As a stable workforce becomes a contradiction in terms, companies are finding it more challenging than ever to identify, recruit, hire, train and retain qualified and productive employees. With less people in the workforce, and with many of the employed unqualified to do the work, labor shortages have created employee competition battle lines throughout corporate America. As the bottom line suffers exorbitant costs of turnover, companies are forced to examine or reexamine why employees leave, and why they stay.

Retention must be viewed as a strategic business issue. The only approach that has the possibility of a successful outcome is a systemic one. It requires full commitment of management in concert with a savvy Human Resource Department.

Retention of employees will require a comprehensive process that aligns appropriate employee wants and needs with corporate culture, structure and strategies.

The internal and external situations that cause organizational turnover are vast and complex. 

Organizations can do little to control the country's economy or an employee's preference for mobility. An enterprise can, however, design internal culture, structures, strategies and programs that retain valuable employees.

To accomplish this task it is necessary to determine which specific components constitute a strategic retention program for a particular organization. Additionally, individual employee differences, along with current market realities, require examination for alignment with corporate goals. Which factors need to be aligned to ensure retaining qualified and productive employees? Are there programs that, if initiated, will assist an organization in reducing turnover? 

Retention and turnover issues are the result of very complex and multifaceted phenomenon. There is not just one strategy, methodology or program that is the definitive answer to turnover issues and retention of valued employees. A comprehensive retention strategy is needed.

To better coordinate a systemic approach, our organization has developed a Strategic Retention Process. The proposed retention model consists of a plan for exit interviews of prior departures, a risk assessment polling current employees, the development of a retention index, an integration checklist to assess alignment with corporate structure and strategy, and a company-specific action plan. 

The best retention programs begin with a strong recruitment strategy. It is essential that management together with HR has first identified the critical skills that will be needed to perform the work of the business. Once these skills have been identified, it is necessary to develop an appropriate recruiting system and needed strategies to develop and retain skilled employees. 

Retention research reports that much of the turnover that occurs in a company is programmed in at the time of a wrong hire. It is critical for an organization to incorporate a people system that includes its employees in everything from mission development to measurement of results.

The belief that employees need their companies more than a company needs them is dangerously dated. Motivated, qualified, engaged, and capable employees are at a premium.

The Strategic Retention Process is a five phase process consisting of an Awareness Phase which is a time for information gathering, Assessment Phase which is a time for conducting a current employee risk assessment, Design Phase which is a time to evaluate the employee data through the development of matrix index, Synergy Phase which is a time for an integration check of structure and strategies, and an Implementation Phase which is the time to design the comprehensive corporate action plan.

The retention process methodology involves the following steps:

  • Decide on the department and span of time to be studied.
  • Review employee Turnover Statistics for all staff who have been separated in the studied time.
  • Chart reasons for employee separation from the organization.
  • Survey employees who have voluntarily left the organization in the studied time through phone, mail or one-on-one interviews.
  • Perform an in-house Employee Opinion Assessment to determine risk of current employees.
  • Tally assessment findings.
  • Evaluate the Retention Options Index.
  • Conduct a Corporate Integration Checklist.
  • Develop the Strategic Retention Process custom-designed for the organization.
  • Advise in the implementation of the program.