HR news and updates from the E.L Blue Team

Retention in a time of plenty (of opportunities for employees)

1 Jul 2021 | HR, Human Resource Outsourcing, Learning and Development, Organisational Development, Payroll, Recruitment

After a year of little job movement, talent is tight and surveys indicate that 40% are looking and up to 80% of the workforce would consider new opportunities if they were presented.  Retaining employees is critical, because filling vacancies is getting harder, taking longer and getting more expensive.

While it does require effort, a good retention strategy will ultimately lead to a more engaged and productive workforce, that is keen to stay with the business.

Most of us have left an employer or had employees leave, so understand most of the reasons.  It usually includes a variety of factors including compensation, culture, rewards / recognition, management and opportunities.  

A good retention strategy should address all these factors. 


According to recent surveys, a lack of development opportunities with existing employers is the major reason employees consider leaving. 

‘Opportunities’ include career development opportunities, learning opportunities and experience opportunities.   A good talent management program should be the foundation for providing opportunities for all employees.

Career paths and career development opportunities provide employees a direction or goal for their working life.  This is often possible in bigger organisations, and involves discussions with employees and their managers as part of the appraisal and talent management process.  

Bigger businesses can deploy employees across business units to utilise a specific skill set.  These opportunities, while not always a linear promotion, keep the employees interested, broaden their experience and allow the business to benefit from their knowledge.  

Smaller businesses often don’t have the size or structure to support a career development path.  Providing development opportunities in these businesses must take into account both employee aspirations and corporate goals. 

Career development in smaller businesses could include developing skills to work in a different function, cross skilling to broaden responsibilities or work in a project team with other specialists.  Such opportunities broaden the perspective, increase involvement in the business and develop skills that will support both the business and employee’s growth. 

Opportunities to develop new professional competencies, such as sponsoring academic qualifications, short courses and certificate courses will benefit the organisation, while keeping staff content.   Traditionally such programs have  focused on MBA / EMBA and the like for senior managers, however similar learning and education opportunities should filter down the organisation.    

No matter the size of the business, offering development, learning and career opportunities is a great way to keep employees in the business. 

Action Items

  • Schedule time to speak with employees about career or development aspirations.  
  • Put in place new opportunities (special project, learning, cross skilling) ASAP. 


An organisation’s culture is integral to attracting and retaining talent.  Organisational culture is made up of shared beliefs and values which form employees perceptions, behaviours and understanding in the company.  

The elements of strong organisational culture include ;

Purpose – for most employees knowing why they do what they do is important.  For most companies this is reflected in mission statements.

Ownership – providing opportunity for team members to be accountable, without micro managing, and giving them scope to achieve outcomes independently and be recognised for their accomplishments. 

Community – offers a sense of belonging and inclusion with a group of people that share common values, principles and goals. 

Effective Communication – Open and clear lines of communication between management and employees, work teams and the entire organisation ensure information flows and support inclusivity. 

Good and Consistent Leadership – is essential with leaders in the organisation need to represent and promote the other 4 elements, be authentic, clear on expectations and displays integrity and compassion.  

A solid culture will allow the business to grow and perform well, a break down or change in culture will result in talent leaving in droves. 

Action Items

  • Do a quick self assessment on your organisational culture – assess how your company is going against the elements above.
  • Identify any toxic elements that are impacting organisational culture.
  • Re-define desired culture and establish an action plan.   


Rewards and Recognition

Most employees don’t just work for money.  

Once basic income requirements are met, Reward and Recognition strategies can play a big role in maintaining employee satisfaction. 

Basic recognition strategies including periodic awards, project completion presentations, letters of commendation, public / company-wide announcements etc. ensure employees know their effort is being noticed.  

Using gift vouchers, movie tickets, paid meals, hotel stay vouchers, air tickets for trips away, a day off work, a donation to a charity or gifts etc. adds a non-cash benefit or reward.   

It is important that any reward or recognition should be tailored to and valued by the recipient. 

Such strategies do not need to be complex or expensive but can become highly respected and powerful incentives for employees.

Action Items

  • Recognise behaviours and performance on a regular basis.
  • Implement a simple rewards program which resonates with company culture and values.



It is a well accepted fact that employees leave managers not companies. 

The traits of good managers are many and widely documented, but from a retention perspective, the people management competencies are core. 

Managers that display clear two way communication, trust and respect their team, encourage and push their team to excel while also engaging and connecting will retain talented employees.  

Managers who get results but at the cost of generating a toxic culture in the business, will tend to churn through colleagues and not garner support of their peers. 

Action Items

  • Check your management style – make sure you provide and accept feedback, have open communications, engage your team while also pushing them to excel.
  • Guide your team members on their people management skills.



It is necessary to have a competitive compensation structure and strategy.  

You don’t have to be at the top of the market, but you do need to be in the range.  Monitor compensation levels in your industry and region, and try to benchmark according to competitors and similar businesses.  

In general, compensation structures should be fit for purpose.  Different jobs and employee cohorts will have different perspective and values of different compensation components – salaries, bonuses, commissions, benefits (vehicle, travel, accommodation, insurances, memberships, education support) profit share, equity, novated leases etc. 

Crafting a flexible structure to match employee changing needs as they mature and develop in the company, will provide a solid retention platform.  

In the current tight market some businesses are making aggressive compensation offers to attract talent.  If your talent is given an offer, it is important to consider whether to match offers or consider alternate compensation and benefit offerings. 

It is also essential to assess risk of setting a precedent before providing a counter offer.  For companies that don’t have rigid compensation bands, it is valuable to take into account any pay equality issues across the business.  Being prepared with an approach to counter offers to your existing talent,  is important. 

Compensation is not the only reason employees consider leaving a company.  Leading a discussion and exploration around the individuals motivation to leave, may uncover opportunities for non-cash benefits which may be attractive to the employee. 

Action Items

  • Assess the competitiveness of your compensation regularly.
  • Check to see that your compensation structure meets the needs of your work force, their lifestyle, career and families.  



Retention strategies should be considered in a wholistic perspective addressing the reasons talent leaves your specific business.  No doubt a number of the factors mentioned above will  require some attention.