How to keep and attract the best

Claire Ross provides three benefits of staff retention and tips for increasing it.

Maintaining high staff retention rates brings multiple benefits, including stability, focus, productivity and profitability. Of course, there are times when new appointments simply don’t work out and good people will sometimes move on for very genuine reasons. 

However, once you have invested in the recruitment and training of talented individuals, there are some very good reasons why you should work to retain them for as long as it suits you both and here’s why.

Teams within a successful business need time to develop and implement strategies that take the business forward instead of constantly fighting fires. Managing a high staff turnover is time-consuming and distracts from the main focus of the business.

Recruitment advertising and agency fees can soon add up, while HR teams are constantly on the back-foot sorting through applications and CVs, conducting interviews, communicating with candidates, and hosting on-boarding sessions and training.

What’s more, department managers who oversee teams with high turnover are pulled away from their day-to-day functions to contribute to the selection and interviewing processes. 

Having a robust policy for dealing with bullying and other anti-social issues that everyone is aware of and understands is crucial

Familiar faces – or voices – make for a more enjoyable and engaging customer experience, driving more sales and supporting customer loyalty. Just as we all enjoy popping into a local coffee shop or pub where the staff know our name and our favourite drink, so too do your customers like to deal with people they have formed a relationship with.

Having a high turnover of staff works against this. It makes for a more fragmented experience as customers have to ‘start all over again’ with a new person who doesn’t understand their business and their specific needs. This, in turn, may impact the workload of team-mates who find themselves having to step in, instead of focusing on their own responsibilities.

Working in an established team with well-known colleagues is good for morale and employee engagement. People enjoy forming sociable relationships and bonds at work as they provide a sense of companionship that is an important part of the day.

In Herzberg’s Motivational Theory model, he describes camaraderie and friendships in the workplace as one of the ‘hygiene factors’ that affect productivity when they are absent. Loyalty between colleagues also produces benefits for the employer.

People may, for example, be more willing to cover for absent or sick colleagues as numerous casual conversations over a period of time have given them some insight into that person’s work style and procedure.

The reverse situation, where there is a high turnover of staff, means that it is difficult, or may feel pointless, for people to create these bonds frequently and repeatedly. The small numbers who do end up staying within the business long term may also form cliques, which can be seen as exclusive and are a detriment to building a cohesive and productive team.


To retain people organisations need to provide clear career progression. Everyone wants to have an idea of what their future might look like and have realistic and achievable goals to work towards.

Well-structured and regular appraisals give people the chance to talk about their own ambitions while managers have the opportunity to provide clear guidance and support to help them achieve these. Performance management tools are useful, providing a quantifiable and qualitative measure of effectiveness and achievement that merits promotion.

Providing skills training and additional experiences will enrich an employee’s work life, support their career progression and allow them to make a greater contribution to the business. Knowing they have been listened to and their ambitions are supported will also help engender loyalty, because they can see they have a future in the organisation.

People also need to see themselves represented within the rest of the organisation, whether it be by colleagues who are on a similar career trajectory or senior leaders who share similar characteristics to themselves.

Feeling like the odd one out may be a trigger factor in looking for another job. Diversity and inclusion are an important part of business strategy for many reasons, but businesses that include a well-implemented diversity and inclusion strategy that values, welcomes and rewards a diverse workforce, are more likely to attract more talented individuals from a range of backgrounds.

They can see themselves fitting in and flourishing. 

Identify the reasons for turnover as by collecting data that shines a light on the reasons people leave, companies will be able to start addressing the problem. This may require sensitive and open discussions during exit interviews alongside offering processes for anonymised feedback.

Reviewing previous appraisals and earlier feedback may also reveal some clues. It’s important to identify if the issue lies within a particular team, a particular demographic or at a certain level.

Perhaps an organisation offers fantastic training and opportunities to gain qualifications, but little opportunity to use these to progress within the company – so people will take their new skills and use them to the benefit of a competitor. 

People’s personal circumstances and requirements of their employer can change so organisations that can offer flexibility will be able to retain valuable staff in these instances, protecting continuity for the business, its customers and employees.

Cloud-based business management solutions, video conferencing and other technologies enable remote working, as successfully demonstrated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Flexibility should be part of the recruitment policy too.

Enabled by technology and an adaptable approach, individuals who might previously have been excluded from the shortlist due to social, physical and geographical restrictions can now easily become important and valued members of the team. 

Be aware of problems and respond accordingly. Prejudice, bullying and cliques cannot be tolerated in the workplace.

Everyone has the right to feel protected and respected at work. If an individual feels they are not being treated fairly, are being victimised or held back by colleagues, they need to know that they can report it and be taken seriously in a safe space, without retribution or provocation.

Having a robust policy for dealing with bullying and other anti-social issues that everyone is aware of and understands is crucial. 

Creating a cohesive workforce that respects and supports each other is the basis for a unified and productive business that people genuinely want to work in. Retaining good people protects your investment and ensures you get the best out of them, letting you all focus on business success.


About the author

Claire Ross is head of culture and engagement at Advanced 


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