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Ideas for Employee Retention

Eileen McDargh

A recent survey of 350 human resource managers shows that employee turnover is becoming one of the most critical workplace issues. Sixty percent say that skilled-person power is "scarce". Forty six percent say that worker retention is a "very serious" issue and another 28 percent believe it to be "serious".

Companies that take the problem seriously and implement programs to ensure employee satisfaction have the highest retention rates. "Show me the money" is not the singular solution. While bonuses, stock-options, and flextime are appreciated, what employees really want is some assurance of continued employability. Here are the most popular worker retention strategies:

  • 78% conferences and seminars
  • 67% tuition reimbursement
  • 67% managerial training
  • 58% pay for performance
  • 57% flextime
  • 57% interpersonal skills training
  • 55% technical training

Five of the top seven areas are all related to learning. Today's workforce recognizes the value of continual personal improvement as a way to assure steady employability. Yet many companies still find it easier to throw pay increases at the problem rather than take a long term view.

Eileen McDargh
Eileen McDargh

A recent study of 4000 professional and clerical workers found that job satisfaction keeps more workers than pay levels alone. The survey found that only 6% of people who were satisfied with their jobs but unhappy with their pay plan to quit. The percentage jumps to 27% when they were dissatisfied with their jobs but happy with their pay! If they were unhappy with both their pay and job situation, the percentage of those ready to bail jumped to 41%!

The challenge: what makes for satisfaction? The answer: opportunity for career development through education, meaningful work and appreciation, 360 degrees of communication, consistent performance expectations and consistent accountability, and work/life balance.

Pay is easier and quicker. Creating a culture for satisfaction takes time, prompts internal analysis, and leaves long-term positive results on the bottom line. Don't tie pay increases to only rank and power. Work at getting away from the notion that you have to move up to make more. Remember that front line people hold customers in their hands. Shouldn't they be among the most well-trained and well-paid people on your staff? Reward people for what they know and do, not how long they've been on the job or how many people they supervise.


Her ability to connect with mind, heart and spirit, make Eileen McDargh one of the most sought-after presenters in North America.
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