5 Retention Fixes – No Money Down

I love SMB HR shops (SMB – small/medium sized businesses) for a number of reasons, but none more than for the simple fact, smaller sized HR shops are forced to be more creative because of less resources.

Creativity and SMB HR shops, remind me of my Grandma. Grandma grew up in the depression.  People who grew up in the depression have creativity skills to burn!  They had so little, but found ways to fill their life with so many things.  Lack of resources didn’t stop them, it unleashed their creativity!  Creativity is the most underrated HR skill out their for high performing HR shops.

Having worked in big HR shops the one thing that frustrated me most was sitting around in large meetings, trying to figure out how to “fix” retention – and listening to all the ways and how much money it was going to cost.  In the end I always came back to, if we just take all this money we are going to spend on the “fix” and just go out and hand to the employees, we probably won’t have a retention problem.  Large HR shop folks don’t like to hear that!  So, for you SMB HR shop folks out there, with little or no money to spend on increasing your retention, I came up with a few ideas you might want to try before you go spend all that budget money on programs with little return.

No Money Retention Fixes:

Fire the manager with the lowest retention.  You have the data, you know who is turning people over. Your organization needs to send a message that managers, not HR and not the CEO, are responsible for retaining talent.  This has to be the first step!  Your leaders have to have a clear understanding it is their job to retain their employees, and it’s your job to hold them accountable for it.

Measure it by Department, and post it publicly for all to see.  No, don’t just share it in meetings.  Post it up in the lobby, down the halls, everywhere!  Then just wait.  It will almost change overnight.  No one likes to be at the bottom of any list, and have everyone know it.

Fire your worst performers – then use that money to compensate your best employees more.  It’s a wash.  Your worst employees aren’t helping your productivity anyway, and your best will appreciate the increase, appreciate you noticing the bad people were taking away from the team, and they’ll give you more discretionary effort.  The result – same cost (actually less if you factor in benefits, taxes, etc.) more productivity, a little less headcount.

Have your senior leadership talk about retention publicly, constantly.   That which gets measured will get changed, that which gets measured and has the eye of senior leadership will get changed much quicker!

Institute a “Save Strategy” for employees who want to leave.  Save Strategy? If an employee puts in their notice, have them go meet with your CEO and explain to her why they are leaving. You’ll be amazed at the results and how many people will change their minds.  Some people just want to know you care, and sitting down for some one-on-one with the CEO, shows that a whole bunch. Plus, it’s much cheaper than finding their replacement!


5 thoughts on “5 Retention Fixes – No Money Down

  1. Gallop (and others) has found that 70% of retention is influenced by the primary manager. 70%! I don’t understand why that doesn’t resonate with C-Suites and translate into a hyper-focus on positive management.

  2. “Your organization needs to send a message that managers, not HR and not the CEO, are responsible for retaining talent.”

    For god’s sake, can we put this up on billboards on the highway and banner ads on every webpage that exists so hopefully, just maybe people will start to believe it? Truer words are rarely spoken, and yet everyone ignores it.

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