Sandy Odle

Sandy Odle


Rethinking Retention: Keeping the Keepers

When it comes to employee retention and turnover, many businesses are losing out to bigger and better companies that offer incentives; not only PTO, 401ks and the rest of the career package, but a simpler, more realistic view of the workplace in general.

Offering career incentives is no guarantee that your employees will stay. This is your opportunity to capture their attention and engage them in new committal to your business. Here are 4 main reasons why employees want to leave but stay, along with some ways to retain them:

    1. Loyalty to the company. If you have an established brand with a positive image nationally or locally, a large percentage of your long term workers are going to have a sense of obligation to you.
      Why this is bad and what you can do: Obviously, loyalty is important for retention, but overall quality of work will suffer over time if you aren’t offering more than just basic career incentives for your employees.
    2. Lack of Career motivation or skills gap. Many people tend to stay with a company due to the fact that they simply don’t think they can find work anywhere else, or don’t feel as though they have the skills to start over.
      Why this is bad and what you can do: While it may seem as though you are retaining a valuable employee, a skills gap can have severe consequences for productivity over the long term, even if your retention is high. Try offering an industry-specific workshop to create an environment where your workers can feel appreciated as well as valuable.
    3. Being able to pull the strings. Perhaps you have a long term employee with a stellar work ethic. They’re always on time and punctual, they get everything done, train new employees efficiently and quickly; the works. The only problem is that they know how good they are, and might shift a few things around in order to accommodate themselves at the expense of your other workers.
      Why this is bad and what you can do: Your new workers may not appreciate the cavalier attitude of your “highest ranking” employee. This can lead to a reduction in productivity and morale, with consequences that extend to workers who have been with the company for a while. If someone is stepping on toes left and right, someone else is bound to trip and cause unneeded stress, leading to further mismanagement and wasted time.
    4. Habituation. In the end, most of the problems associated with high retention rates have to do with habituation. People relish familiarity and routine, and nothing represents that better than a company offering major career incentives to stay.
      Why this is bad and what you can do: If your employees are stagnating and complacent, you won’t be getting the full value of their work. As mentioned previously, offering workshops for your employees to learn new skills and abilities is incredibly helpful in motivating them to do better. Plus, they’ll have the skills they need to perform at a consistent level in line with contemporary business trends. The age old adage “you learn something new (almost) every day” rings true here.


Regardless of the issues you have with retention, there is a process to retaining and training those who have been with you for the long term. We can’t always distance ourselves from employees who work at a less than ideal level. Productive morale and efficiency stems from the employer and their ability to offer more than just obvious incentives, but enrichment through training and proper management.


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