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Take Off Your Coat and Stay a While: Extend Employees' Stay!


Wed Apr 12 2023

Take Off Your Coat and Stay a While: Extend Employees' Stay!

One of the key roles of talent professionals is to lead the competition for talent on behalf of their organizations. They must be the designers of systemic retention processes as well as strategic thinkers. They must see the big picture and identify the ramifications and cost of talent loss. However, the day-to-day responsibilities for keeping talented people fall to managers who must recognize their powerful roles in the talent battle. Talent leaders must design the process, not own it.

The challenge is waking managers up to the power and responsibility they have—and then giving them the necessary tools or tune-ups. Some managers are natural retention experts, others need help. Most of all, they must become conscious of their critical roles in retaining talented employees. They must be held accountable for building a retention culture on their teams and in their departments.


Until managers see themselves as owners of the retention issue, they’ll continue to point fingers elsewhere. They will continue to abdicate their roles and accountability for talent wandering out the door, costing companies thousands or millions of dollars every year.

Talent leaders must acknowledge and teach that anyone managing is ultimately responsible for holding that critical organizational asset.

When talent leaders show managers the research about what keeps people, they’ll quickly notice that many of the items are within their influence or control. They’ll see that it’s not just about money. If anything sparks interest in line managers, it’s finding a way to improve the bottom line. Keeping talent does exactly that.

  • Retention-focused managers look for ways to support their employees’ growth.

  • Retention-focused managers link talented people to mentors or feedback providers, other leaders, and colleagues in other departments. They help employees recognize multiple options for career growth. They model the behaviors they want to see. Their employees are more likely to stay and succeed because of their mindset and strong beliefs about people development.

  • Retention-focused managers understand the power of building relationships. They are truth-tellers and feedback providers. Preserving the dignity of others matters greatly to these managers. They also respect differences and value diversity on their teams. They tend to be great listeners. They ask probing questions and work hard to discover what might be troubling an employee. Retention managers will give power and a spotlight to talented people without a second thought, and they look for innovative, customized ways to reward and recognize their people.

  • Retention-focused managers believe in the importance of creating a work culture people love. They create a nurturing and enjoyable environment in their own function, department, or team. They will partner with their people to adjust work if it’s missing the mark. They encourage employees to have balance in their lives. They care about workers’ private lives (without prying) and ask about their hobbies, families, and lives away from work. They encourage wellness and create less-stressful workplaces. They communicate often and honestly and encourage feedback. They care about employees’ values and strive to align them with those of the team and organization. Never has the pressure on managers been greater to give their talented people space to be self-directed, to manage their time and work, and to think in new ways, all essential elements of a culture that retains talent.

If it is the job of human resource development (HRD) professionals to lead retention efforts through line management, the first step is to learn where line managers stand on the issues. Are they already savvy about why people stay and what entices them away? Of course, money and perks matter, but employees repeatedly tell us that what they want most is challenging, meaningful work, good bosses, and opportunities for learning and development.

Employees won’t stay forever. We learned that long ago, but we can keep them longer. We can make their tenures significant for them and our organizations. Talent leaders must educate all managers. Let’s not make it complex. The basics count.


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