Employee retention: have we changed our way of thinking over the years?

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Employee Retention

There is so much in the news about ‘employee retention’ and it being ‘an employee’s market’, people leaving jobs without another one to go to, people wanting more than just a place to earn money. Makes interesting headlines but is it really so different from before?

What causes employees to leave the business?

Dialogue has been employing people for the last 27 years and yes, we have seen a shift in thinking, but I am not convinced that people’s needs have changed that much: maybe we are just recognising and embracing those needs more?

When Rob and I started up Dialogue, I will always remember that one of the reasons he wanted to set up his own language company was because he felt totally unappreciated in the company where he was teaching. It wasn’t about the salary, it was about acknowledgement of a job well done and he wanted to build a company that put recognition and appreciation at the heart of everything.

I always think of the 1990’s as people talking a lot about salary and working long hours. However, if you dug a little deeper, at the heart of it was their basic need to be appreciated. A simple ‘well done’ or ‘thank you’ was always important but it just wasn’t talked about so much; it was taken for granted and probably undervalued.

Ways to retain employees

People, especially from Gen Z onwards, have become a lot more vocal about work/life balance. As we all spend many hours at work, we need to connect on a human level and being paid well is not enough to keep people content. Of course, employees need to be paid a reasonable wage or salary, of course it is nice to get a bonus, but is this enough to keep people from ‘jumping ship’? I believe not. I believe it has everything to do with the culture of the business and the ability to celebrate the everyday, ordinary wins that retains people in the end.

Why? If your company has a culture and ethos that is inclusive and approachable, one that rewards the little gains – then you have an organisation that allows people to express their individuality and their needs. This will mean that they will have open and honest conversations with you and if they are struggling on some level, they will be able to approach you and give you an opportunity to find a solution. If you are unable to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, then at least both parties know where they stand and you as an employer have listened and have done all you can do. No one is blindsided.

Is there an employee retention strategy?

So, in my opinion retaining staff is about being transparent and having a culture that believes in the ability of the individual. It is about wanting to develop each person – I am not just talking about putting them on skills-based courses – but having discussions that mature their ambition, their emotional development and their ability to look at things on a holistic level. Look after the individual and you will receive loyalty, commitment and hard work in return.

As to my question, is the recruitment marketplace really different? I don’t think this has ever really changed. Fundamentally people need to be recognised, appreciated and celebrated.

Get those things right and you have a good chance of retaining your people.


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