A moderate level of staff turnover can be good for a business; it means fresh ideas and approaches. However, every organisation needs to have a strategy in place to retain the high performers that give it a competitive edge; they are the ones you can’t afford to lose.

Ignoring high levels of employee turnover can be very costly; it lowers internal morale and it could harm an organisation's external reputation and cost it business. So, understanding the importance of staff retention is vital.

It's essential to try to learn more about the reasons why people resign. The reasons might simply be more attractive jobs elsewhere or chances for lifestyle reshapes, in which case it might be out of your hands to retain these employees. However, many people leave their jobs because they are dissatisfied with their current situation. There are ways of retaining these people, highlighted below.

Main reasons people leave a job

In our experience the most common negative reasons for leaving a job are:

  • Poor salary and benefits
  • A lack of training and development opportunities
  • Dissatisfaction with management
  • Not getting along with colleagues
  • The journey to work
  • Lack of work/life balance

Methods to find out why staff are leaving include:

  • Confidential attitude surveys.
  • Questionnaires sent to former employees around six months after their departure.
  • Exit interviews

However, while companies do conduct 'exit' interviews to try and ascertain the reasons behind a departure, because of the necessity to obtain a decent reference, people often tone down or completely fabricate their reasons for leaving.

Ways to improve staff retention

By adopting a mix of the following methods, you should see an improved staff retention rate:

  • Ensure those being recruited have a realistic idea of what the job entails
  • Improved career development opportunities.
  • Effective appraisals
  • Strong diversity policies.
  • A practicable means of dealing with bullying.
  • A good work/life balance.
  • A mechanism for staff to register dissatisfaction, whether it is appraisals, grievance proceeding and so on.
  • Leadership training for managers.

Make your employees feel valued and proud of the work that they do will not only do wonders for your employer branding strategy, but will immediately improve your turnover rate. Develop a work culture that encourages diversity and creativity and put in place effective anti-discrimination policies that promote flexible working, where possible.

Adopting a strategy for staff retention is not always easy, but it will greatly benefit your organisation.

For more advice on the matter read Michael Page's other articles on staff development and retention.