Retention is the combined responsibility of recruitment, HR and hiring managers and it often gets overlooked as a key objective for any of those teams as a result.

But there’s no use hiring great talent only for them to leave and take all of their knowledge to your competitors so what can we do as in-house recruiters and HR leaders to impact retention? How can we measure it and make sure that we’re accountable for improving it as a centre of excellence within our businesses?

This piece of insight from our Director Rob outlines how we approach retention and those challenging questions at Instant Impact.

Data is key:

In order to start thinking about improving retention we first need to make sure that we understand where we are today. We need to measure retention across the business and break it down by department, location and even recruiter or manager to see whether there are any trends.

Consider how you can get additional information about your retention - exit interviews and employee engagement surveys are really useful tools if you’re strict about doing them regularly.

We then need to use that information to make a qualified judgement about how those retention statistics are impacting our business. Ask what difference it would make if you improved retention by 10% - how would it impact your clients, teams, recruitment and financials? Ask whether you even have a mandate to improve retention - you don’t necessarily want 100% retention - there could be a lack of new ideas and the business can start to stagnate.

There are two main benefits to truly understanding your retention statistics:

  1. Once you know where you are and you’re clear on where you want to get to, you can start making a plan of how to get there.
  2. It will become much easier to make hiring plans and start becoming more proactive with your recruitment.

Typical retention problems and how to solve them!

Early Churn: a LinkedIn study found that 24% of new hires leave their employer within the first year with a significant proportion failing to pass probation.

If you have a problem with Early Churn it’s likely that you have a problem in one of three areas:

  • Recruitment: you’re hiring the wrong people or setting the wrong expectations in the recruitment process.
  • Onboarding: as an HR & Hiring Manager unit you’re not providing a good enough experience to new hires in those crucial first few weeks of a new role.
  • Remuneration: Assume your best hires are being approached by your competitors from day 1. If you’re paying under market rate they may well be lured away.

In any case, you’re going to want to do something about it:

  • Whenever you have a case of someone leaving before the end of their probation we recommend that you have a “post-mortem” meeting with everyone directly involved in hiring and onboarding that new team member. Get them to identify any lessons learned with a “my fault first” approach and ensure that those are implemented across the team.

Predictable Churn: Some companies experience churn at specific points in their career pathways.. For example, accountants often move firm after they have become fully qualified.

If you’re experiencing predictable churn you need to consider whether it’s an industry phenomenon (that will be harder for you to control) or a business phenomenon that you can do more about.

Addressing Predictable Churn:

  • Clear career pathways: work with department heads to build and communicate career pathways and opportunities. If your employees can see an attractive future for themselves then they’re much more likely to stay.
  • If you accept that you’re going to have predictable churn you need to mitigate the risk. Make sure that you look after your stars, your future leaders, and anyone who would be costly to lose. Encourage your leadership to pay close attention to employee performance metrics so that they know where to spend their time.

Department / Location Churn: if you’re losing hires from one department or office in particular you need to take urgent action. If something is going wrong in one team it can spread to others. Work with leadership and HR Business Partners responsible for the affected Departments / Locations. Implement Employee Engagement surveys and get feedback from your people - what can we do to improve? Do we have a cultural issue?

Mass Churn: perhaps the most challenging type of churn is mass churn - people are leaving from all over the business - you have a leaky bucket. This is something to address with the leadership immediately, is there a lack of vision for the business? A toxic culture? You need to quickly get the bottom of the issue as it’s likely to be a threat to your whole business.

Ambiguity is the enemy of accountability:

At Instant Impact we believe in radical accountability. Everyone involved in the retention equation should be accountable for the components that they control. We’ve seen this working most effectively where:

HR takes overall responsibility for retention. They measure retention and work with recruitment and hiring managers as appropriate to address the issues mentioned above.

Recruitment takes responsibility for early churn. It’s a key measure of the success of the recruitment function and they work with HR and Hiring Managers to address any issues. At Instant Impact we combine this with the responsibility for measuring, reporting and improving quality of hire.

Managers and leaders take responsibility for retention in their teams or departments. It’s a leadership metric that they track and report on. If you’re interested in more business performance metrics we recommend looking at the Balanced Scorecard or using the Entrepreneurial Operating System outlined in the book Traction.

Continual Improvement:

Retention is never something that you will solve - you need to keep working at improving otherwise you could be in for a shock just round the corner!

Get in touch if you’d like our advice on your retention!