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Retain your existing employees

In the month of April 2021, 2.7% of total workers in the USA quit their job voluntarily. In comparison, the same number was 1.7% in March 2021 and 2% in Feb 2020 (1)

Among information services workers, this voluntary attrition was 1.9% in April 2021, up from 1.2% in Feb 2020. (1)

These rising rates of voluntary separation reflect the increased availability of jobs and the willingness of workers to make a move.

It’s time to ramp up initiatives to retain employees.

Some actions which work are:

  1. Fill the potholes - Remove the irritants

  2. Treat people with dignity

  3. Get employees off the bench

  4. Be prepared to groom

  5. Winners stay longer

  6. Talk to your people

  7. Pop the champagne more often

  8. Ensure competitive compensation

Fill the pot holes –Remove the irritants

Make internal systems and processes simpler, friendlier, & faster.

Relook at policies and systems which tend to irk employees.

Delays in paying expense claims were leading to considerable frustration among employees in an organization.

To address this, the system was changed. All claims below a certain $ value, If not approved by the supervisor,

were auto approved in 72 hours and paid.

Are tools and infrastructure current and allow employees to work productively?

Under configured and old workstations were leading not only to a loss of productivity but also employee morale in a tech company.

An audit was conducted and workstations were enhanced or replaced to size them to job requirements. This led to both an increase in productivity as well as in employee morale & retention.

Are there similar issues with processes & infrastructure in your organization? It may be time to take a closer look and address them.

Treat people with dignity – and it should show in the actions

During an awards ceremony, all the recipients were made to stand, lined up and made to wait for the presenter to arrive. They continued to be queued up and standing till they were called to receive their award.

While it was logistically a simple process, think of the awardees – standing and waiting.

Could they too have been sitting like all other attendees, and called in sequence when it was their turn?

A recent post on LinkedIn received multi-thousand “likes”. It is by an employee who was unable to work to full productivity. In the course of pointing this out, his supervisor used less than parliamentary language frequently.

The employee quit. He acknowledged that he was not fully productive but was not willing to take the abuse from his supervisor.

Do you notice these behaviors in your organization?

If yes, sensitivity training and intervention may be appropriate. If that does not work then redeployment may be step 2.

Get employees off the bench

Most companies recruit from campus and then put hires through training programs and / or on the bench till they can find suitable work for them. This is very prevalent in most consulting companies.

Across employee surveys, it is also the leading cause of restlessness and attrition among these recent hires.

Acknowledging this, one firm changed the deployment process to put campus hires to work faster. Rather than waiting till the end of training, they were put on assignments commensurate with their skills sooner while they continued to be trained to take on more complex work. Morale rose significantly and attrition dropped to less than half.

Put every hand to work. Idle people have more time to look outside.

Be prepared to groom

As resources become scarce, the ready to deploy talent is less available too.

Be prepared to invest in training & mentorship.

Supervisors will need to become better groomers & mentors. It will take a mindset change for many, especially those who have got used to supply surplus / ready to deploy resources.

People builders will thrive, those expecting hands off results will struggle. Retain the builder managers. Train or redeploy those who do not demonstrate good engagement with their teams and the ability to shape them

Factor in the time to groom into deployment times and time to hit full productivity. Recraft goals and measures factoring in a more extended ramp up time.

All in all, be prepared to build, groom and deploy

Winners stay longer

Assign work commensurate with the skills of your workforce. Strip out the mundane. Automate it, outsource it. Get rid of it.

Set reasonable goals – ensure that the hires (and incumbents) are set up for success.

Else they will leave – there are opportunities out there

At the same time, do not suffer the consistently delinquent performers – they demotivate the better ones, and also give them a reason to not stay because they don’t want to be in the same group as the delinquent ones. It tarnishes their image & pulls them down.

Talk to your people

Get in front of your teams– put a face to leadership. It builds significant stickiness.

These interactions are also an opportunity for the leader(s) to get unstructured feedback from the larger employee population, especially those in the trenches.

An industry leader would systematically devote a fixed percentage of time for employee meetings & engagement – even when it was not fashionable to do so.

Most employees, more so the younger ones, had never had an opportunity to interact with such a senior leader and this interaction became one they looked forward to. Over years, many cited this as one of the big reasons they continued to stay on and work for the organization.

Make leaders more visible. Get them in front of their immediate and larger teams more often.

Pop the champagne more often – even the non-alcoholic one works

Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. Highlight the wins and successes of your team members, team, and organization.

Invest in celebrations. Even small ones can make a dent.

Ensure competitive pay and benefits

Benchmark the compensation and benefits with not only peer companies, but also those to which your employee population tends to exit to.

For companies which are the brand to work for, the buzzing firm, or one where employees get groomed for higher things in the future, compensation may not be the # 1 factor when employees decide to stay and work.

For all other companies, it will be an important to ensure that they are competitive

In closing

With job availability at a high, there are more choices of where and who to work for as well as what work to do

Measures to retain existing employees, enhancing their productivity and motivation become even more important in this environment.

Making organization processes employee friendly, investing in infrastructure which is apt for the work to be done, demonstrating decorum in actions with people, keeping employees active, & raising the level of engagement with them are some of the actions which have proven to lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction, motivation and retention.

The enhanced motivation and retention will lead to higher levels of productivity too.

A win all around

Keep swinging!


1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, USA


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