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Improving Employee Retention Is an Outcome, Not a Strategy


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure of an employee in the United States is 4.2 years, while the annual average turnover rate across industries and demographics is 44.3%. That’s a lot of people leaving their organizations and, more importantly, leaving their organizations well before the people who hired them wanted them to leave. The impact can be wide-ranging: increased costs, lower productivity, a decrease in revenue, and plummeting morale amongst other staff as they watch their peers moving through the revolving door.

In the typical organization, when turnover rises the CEO/owner taps the HR Leader on the shoulder and proclaims, in no uncertain terms, “It’s your job to improve retention!”

Does HR need to take action? Of course. Sadly, what often occurs is something akin to trying to nail Jell-O® to a tree. The HR team declares they will implement a “retention strategy,” which is often nothing more than a bunch of seemingly random activities that attempt to promote loyalty and organizational affinity. T-shirts are distributed, pizza parties are hosted, and someone decides to resurrect the long-discarded “employee of the month” award.

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