An Investment in Retention Strategy Helps Maintain Human Assets

by Ken and Patti Leith  on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 3:01 pm  

As the uncertainty settles after a dynamic election, organizations that have been holding cash as protection against the unknown appear to be demonstrating some willingness to invest in their future growth.

Also, as the unemployment rate continues its gradual decrease and more jobs open up, there are signs the imprint of our recessed economy may be dissolving in the near future. Nobody knows exactly where the economy will head in 2013, but there are some likely scenarios. Caution will probably decrease as slowly as jobs increase. Firms that learned to be leaner through the volatile economy likely will maintain a commitment to efficiency. Leadership teams also are likely to look for ways to utilize cash flow to benefit their companies.

In all of this, one highly probable risk many organizations will face is “brain drain,” as more job options become available and as companies resume their use of recruiting assistance. There are two contributing factors as to why someone might consider leaving a known role for a new one. First, most organizations that pared their work force also imposed greater workloads, usually with little or no additional pay. Second, options are now becoming available that weren’t available before. It is human nature to initially be convinced that the grass is greener on the other side.

In short, as companies have job openings, they will seek to use resources to pursue the most talented individuals they can find. Thus, the talented people within an organization may be courted and convinced to leave current stability and venture into a new challenge, sometimes for only a little more money. What organizations have to do is be sure that their talented people aren’t flattered into saying yes.

The main reasons people choose to stay with an organization include how valued they feel and how much they are learning. Many times, if these two things are in place, they won’t even consider another job. For a company to achieve this with its talented people, its leadership team should be recognizing and rewarding accomplishments and the organization should consider making an investment in the development of their teams.

Before the recession, we measured the retention in our client organizations after providing professional/leadership development services. There was a substantial difference between groups that participated and groups that did not. The groups that participated in development had as much as 50 percent less turnover. During the recession, people simply didn’t leave, so there wasn’t much to measure. Also, during the recession, companies didn’t invest much in employee development. So, after a few years of working their employees hard and not providing opportunities to grow, companies are at risk for post-recession turnover and the loss of valuable assets.

If you are in a leadership role, please reflect on how your organization is providing for the growth of your employees. Consider investing more time and money into providing the environment that makes people want to stay.

If you are a leader of people, look for the value in what your team members are accomplishing. Look for ways to recognize them that are meaningful to them. Make it your job to help them understand how what they do on a daily basis helps your firm achieve its targets.

Finally, if you are considering a hop to the “other side,” be sure the grass really is greener. Be certain it offers more of whatever you value than you have today. If your needs aren’t being met, suggest ways the company might assist your career growth so that you don’t even feel interested in leaving. Do everything you can do to make your job relevant and a growth vehicle for you.

Ken and Patti Leith are managing partners of EDGES Inc., a strategic planning and process efficiency firm based in Bentonville. They also own and operate e-Gauge Inc. a software services company specializing in talent management and strategic plan execution. Contact EDGES at 479-203-7198 or



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