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9 Effective Staff Retention Strategies

Great resignation and the war on talent are an opportunity for employers


If you’re in business, chances are you’re struggling to attract and retain employees. 1.3 million Australians changed jobs in the year to February 2022, the highest annual job mobility rate in a decade.

While everyone’s discussing where all the workers from the ‘Great Resignation’ have gone, the ‘War on Talent’ is hampering company growth across every industry.

To help, we’ve pulled together some of the most effective staff retention strategies based on our thought leaders’ research. With these 9 simple strategies, you can attract and keep great staff.

Why do employees leave?

You’ve probably left jobs yourself, so you know employees will quit for many reasons. A better offer, study, travel, a bad boss. But according to Deloitte, the pandemic has prompted people to rethink their priorities like never before. This has led to a desire for change and historic voluntary turnover.

Why are they leaving? It boils down to four reasons:

·       Overall dissatisfaction 

·       More appealing alternatives

·       An expected/planned change

·       A negative experience (see our blog FIRST 7 SIGNS OF A TOXIC WORKPLACE (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT)

As we’ll see, these reasons can stem from many factors, including wanting higher compensation, more flexibility, better work/life balance, increased learning and development opportunities, better mental health and wellness support, and a greater commitment from businesses to make a positive societal impact.

Free Download: 10 Leadership Qualities That Will Help Solve Challenges in 2022 

Why do employees stay?

To find out why employees stay we’d do well to ask Australia’s machinery operators and drivers. Their group had the smallest share of people who changed jobs in the year up to February 2022 (only 5.9% job mobility). By contrast, professionals made up 22% share of all people who changed jobs, that’s more than one in five.

Perhaps machinery operators and drivers see the impact of their work. Leadership expert Liz Wiseman says people stay when they feel useful and challenged. The author of Multipliers and Impact Players, told our Global Headline event audience that people want to work in a place where:

  • intelligence and talent are maximised
  • people are deeply engaged
  • people are learning rapidly
  • people are contributing in full measure

LinkedIn’s Workforce Learning Report found 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning.

Research shows employees also stay where they are trusted, appreciated, noticed, fairly compensated, and feel safe to be themselves.

9 Effective Staff Retention Strategies 


1.     Training & Development

Training and development are engagement tools that can help with retention. Ottawa University research shows links between dedicated training and development, higher employee engagement, and resulting 41% lower absenteeism rates.

Here is some inspiration for using learning to retain your people:


  • Be generous with your people. Michael McFall writes in Forbes that ‘When we view people from a generous perspective and invest in them, supporting them in their personal development, problems often dissipate, and relationships can flourish.’ 


  • Make training timely and personal. Chief Mental Health officer, Commonwealth Bank, Dr Laura Kirby says that personalising leadership development resources (e.g. self-serve access to information and one-on-one coaching) which can be rolled out in the moment is vital.


  • Find the right training partner. For many Flight Centre executives, this learning journey includes membership to Growth Faculty's leadership development platform. Managing Director Corporate Melissa Elf says access to top global speakers is just one key reason Flight Centre chooses Growth Faculty as a provider of leadership development.

2.     Invest in Employee Engagement 

Studies show organisations with low employee engagement report lower productivity (-18%), lower profitability (-16%), lower job growth (-37%) and lower share price (-65%) over time.

To retain employees you must jump on any signs of disengagement or low engagement (such as absenteeism, silence, apathy, underperformance). 

From our masterclass with CEO coach and author of ‘Activators’ and ‘Creating a Culture of Accountability’ Mark Green we learned of 3 keys to employee engagement:

·      Autonomy – the same as ‘agency’

·       Mastery – an ability to progress or get better

·       Purpose – the ‘why’ or greater cause

When employees leave or show poor engagement, it could be due to being micromanaged, not being challenged, or not seeing meaning in what they do.

3. Create an Effective Onboarding Experience 

Retaining an employee begins on or before their first day with your company. Research shows a strong onboarding process improves new hire retention by 82% (Brandon Hall Group). Yet Gallup studies show 88% of companies don’t nail this important aspect of an employee’s work life.

 Yet it’s not difficult to create an effective onboarding experience. Try these simple strategies to help retain your newest staff (and they won’t hurt with your legacy staff either):

Go beyond the paperwork. From day one new hires want to hear why their work is meaningful (the company purpose), clear communication on how they can fully contribute and grow, and they want to feel like they belong. They also want a good boss.

Show them they are valuable enough to invest in. Gallup says one way to ensure a positive manager relationship is to include learning and development in your employee onboarding process.

“Employees who strongly agree they have a clear plan for their professional development are 3.5 times more likely to strongly agree that their onboarding process was exceptional.” – Gallup

4. Observe How Your Managers Manage  

People don’t leave jobs; they leave poor managers. That’s the saying, and a 2022 study by Visier backs it up. It found two in five employees (43%) have quit because of a bad manager.

More than half (53 per cent) of those ‘considering leaving’ say it’s because of their manager.

Poor management behaviours included:

·       Failure to listen (49%)

·       Being unapproachable (47%)

·       Treating members of the team differently (43%)

·       Shouting at the team (42%)

To list 3 of the top 10 qualities all successful leaders have in common are:

1.      Self-awareness -Know your impact

2.      Empathy - Love differences in others

3.    Vulnerability and humility - Trust and be trusted

5. Look into a Hybrid Working Model 

Recent U.S. survey data shows hybrid work may be worth a 7% pay rise to workers, and about 40% of work-from-home (WFH) workers would seek another job if their boss required a full return to the office. (Australian Productivity Commission report)

To retain employees, companies must demonstrate that they do flexibility well. It can’t be a grudging negotiation concession at the job interview.

Speaker Keith Ferrazzi, author of Competing in The New World of Work, says the most innovative organisations:

·       Collaborate by seamlessly integrating humans, automation, and AI tools.

·       Manage their team’s health, and actively monitor it.

·       Communicate in a streamlined manner that’s fit for purpose.

·       Have a growth mindset that supports continuous improvement.

Hybrid work offers an opportunity for you to invest in new skills and training for your team. This has long-term benefits for your company. It makes them more adaptable and changes are going to continue happening more rapidly than ever. It makes them more loyal and more promotable. Growth Faculty Leadership Pass is a good way to grow your team's leadership skills.

6. Provide Continuous & Positive Feedback 

Giving positive feedback often, and critical feedback with ‘radical candour’, helps enormously with retention. But employees must feel their manager is using feedback to support them grow and thrive.

The higher up the leadership ladder you go, the more important it is to “put yourself into someone else’s shoes” when interacting with members of your organisation. What’s also essential is that managers encourage feedback about their own leadership.

Trust and Inspire author Stephen M.R. Covey told Growth Faculty that 'Trust and Inspire' leaders actively look for greatness in people. Leaders do all they can to communicate their belief in others. “They see the greatness, communicate the greatness, and develop the greatness, they unleash the greatness.”

7. Avoid Disruptive & Sudden Change 

Extreme, unstable forces by themselves do not undo a great company. But undisciplined behaviour does, finds 7 years of research by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen in their book Great by Choice. Discipline matters.

Chopping and changing staff and priorities is highly demotivating for staff and can affect retention.

Jim Collins and Morten Hansen found that 10X companies (those that perform at more than 10X their industry average) apply the SMaC (Specific, Methodical, and Consistent) principle; they stick to the recipe that works for their organisation. 

When they innovate, they fire bullets at new products, services, technologies - and cannonballs only after a bullet hits a target.

8. Pay Attention to Your Company Culture 

 To avoid ‘quiet quitting’ (disengaging) or low retention rates, leaders should work to improve their workplace culture. It’s so important to employees, a 2019 study found 77% of job seekers won’t even click “apply” without looking into a company’s workplace culture.

Workplace culture is all about fostering employees to reach their potential and support a successful business. You can get on the front foot to build a great work culture by:

Living and communicating your purpose. Employees stay in organisations which support their values and whose vision and mission is something they’re committed to.

Taking steps to avoid a toxic workplace culture. Leadership development is crucial to work on the soft skills needed to make a psychologically safe workplace.

Bringing hybrid and workplace together. Asking for people to share their work struggles can be an opportunity to build and showcase a psychologically safe work culture. Try using breakout rooms more often (people feel more confident in smaller groups).

9. Invest in Your Teams with Our Leadership Pass  

High performing employees know they need professional development and upskilling to ensure they have the traits needed for this new world of work.

Our Leadership Pass is an entertaining retention tool that gives them access to the best minds and brilliant ideas with weekly live, interactive, virtual masterclasses. Our speakers and authors include Jim Collins, Liz Wiseman, Stephen M.R. Covey, Whitney Johnson and more.  

Photo by Berkeley Communications on Unsplash


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