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Ways to improve retention and performance

As most companies know, the cost of employee turnover is a lot more than just recruitment costs – there’s lost productivity, the cost of your time to undertake the recruitment process, the months it takes to get a new team member up to full productivity, the loss of key business knowledge that leaves with your departing team member, client relationship costs, resignations can be contagious and cause more team members to move on, and to top it all off – in this market, replacement wages are currently often higher than your departing team member!!


With the employment market being incredibly tight, it’s important to have a plan in place to retain your people. You’ll be pleased to know that this investment not only supports staff retention but also improves your team members overall performance and engagement with your business.

Getting this right requires ongoing time investment from your leadership team but it pays in dividends in terms of culture, performance, the way your staff interact with eachother and your clients – so the investment makes sense.


There are many ‘ways’ to improve retention and performance, some of the below will work for all organisations and some either will or won’t apply to your organisational culture. Have a look at the following lists and pick a few to re-invigorate or implement.


Global Ways:

  • With end of year upon us, if you haven’t already, plan some sort of celebration event to thank your team for their efforts this year. Your budget will dictate the nature of the event, but know that any budget can create an event with impact – you need the following ingredients:

o Generosity of spirit – do it partially in work time if possible (or if it’s an evening event, be flexible about team members heading off a little earlier than usual to get ready)

o Cater it – people love coming together around food. It doesn’t need to be extravagant but having food at the event makes it more of a celebration

o Build connections – have fun activities which bring team members together. Think: staff awards, charitable activities, raffles & prizes, speeches to acknowledge folks at all levels (not just those in the layer(s) closet to the CEO)

o Keep it fun – make sure whatever you arrange is accessible for everyone to participate & get home safely from

  • Develop your leaders so they know how to deliver the retention and performance processes of your business; make sure they experience these processes themselves – from your role modelling

  • Share your business successes with team members – internal communications can help staff feel connected to your organisation, feel a part of its successes and know they’re working towards a common goal. Reflect back on the year that’s been and communicate the wins and the learnings – your team will enjoy the walk down memory lane and feel proud of the many achievements they’ve been a part of and adversities they’ve helped overcome.

  • Develop or revitalise a reward & recognition program – for these to be worth the investment it’s best not to buy an off the shelf product; your team will have its own motivators, so it’s often best to develop something bespoke (note that this doesn’t have to cost a fortune or require huge administration to be a successful retention and engagement tool for your business)

  • Undertake a succession planning exercise and put individual retention plans in place for key talent and successors

  • Implement programs which build an organisational community – when staff feel they belong to an organisation they’re more likely to stay and perform to the best of their ability. Things like staff awards programs where team members nominate their peers, programs for staff to undertake volunteering together during work time, team activity days, team development, group lunches. These things need not cost the earth but they bring your team together and build connections to eachother and to your business. These programs often work best when team members lead the program conception and coordination, with you providing the parameters and budget.

  • Implement a wellbeing program – much like the programs above, these are best lead and coordinated by team members, so they’re tailored to team level needs. Health & wellbeing programs should foster connections internally whilst also strengthening both physical and mental health.

Start small with people programs and grow over time, incrementally review what works well and what doesn’t need to continue. As your business grows and evolves, the people programs should too – people programs should always compliment and be informed by your people strategy and organisational culture. You can always expand and grow a program but contracting it can have an impact on perceived benefits available to employees, so we recommend you start small and grow.


Individual ways:

  • Set up each team member for success, with a thorough onboarding and orientation

  • Ensure each team member knows what’s expected of them and has regular conversations with their leader to assess their progress toward these goals

  • Ensure your leaders are equipped to evaluate their team members level of mastery in their role, and put support in place where needed, provide autonomy to those ready for it and stretch opportunities to those who need it

  • Have development plans in place for each team member – tailored specifically to their professional needs

  • Build a feedback culture – one where feedback is meaningful, given regularly, builds trust and engages the person as an individual who feels recognised and part of a community of people delivering your organisation’s purpose

  • Implement structures which engage team members in meaningful activities that progress the organisation’s mission and vision – engage team members in developing plans for the year ahead and help build themselves into the vision for what you will collectively achieve in the business next year. Develop reward/incentive programs around this

  • Conduct Stay Interviews, to understand what’s working well and what you can improve upon, to keep your best people within your business

  • Consider who in your team requires an individual retention plan

  • Consider who in your team needs more of a challenge and if you can enrich their role (with a pay bump) or promote them (or put a plan in place to support their promotion)

Implementing all of these things at once is likely to overload you and your team and achieve poor results, so we recommend you pick a few key ‘ways’ and get them embedded before you add more.



Humanistic HR can take some of the load off your shoulders:

  • Leadership development and/or coaching

  • People program and process development, implementation and training

  • Reward & Recognition program scoping and design

  • Succession planning facilitation

  • Retention plan templates & leader process briefing

  • Onboarding & Orientation templates and leadership capability development

  • Performance monitoring and progress review templates. Leadership development

  • Feedback culture tipsheet

  • Stay Interview template & facilitation

  • Exit Interview template & facilitation

To have an obligation free chat about improving retention and engagement in your business, please contact hello@humanistichr.com.au or call Mel 0434 359 019.


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