Articles>Staff retention is one ...

Staff Turnover: Why HR Retention Strategies Fail?
By Margaret Pitiris

Staff retention is one of the most critical issue facing companies today. This is not only a reality in Cyprus: it is a global corporate reality faced by companies of all sizes, industries and corporate brand names. Sure this has much to do with shortage of skilled labor, economic growth and employee turnover. However, many companies fail to understand that the basic premise for high staff turnover in a company is directly the result of how the management deals with their staff.

HR managers have to deal with this issue on a daily basis and it is a real headache. They spend considerable amounts of time and effort in the development and implementation of retention strategies with the hopes that they will, at minimum, alleviate the problem. Some of these strategies are very sophisticated and require deep technical knowledge and practical know-how. They involve lots training and development, smashing social corporate events, remuneration scheme based on performance, coaching and mentoring activities.

However, when it is time to review and measure their effectiveness on increasing retention they find out that staff turnover is still high (sometimes higher than the year before). So this begs the question: Why HR Retention Strategies Fail? The answer is in Talent Management.

There should be little question in leader's minds about the importance of human capital to organizational success. Companies such as Microsoft and General Electric have long demonstrated that having a superior workforce is the key to sustainable market hegemony and business success. In fact, HR and Organizational Psychology studies have consistently proven a factor frequently differentiating successful from unsuccessful companies is the time spent by their senior management in "talent management". Leaders of highly successful organizations are known to spend better than 50% of their time in the assessment, development and selection of their firm's human assets.

I reiterate that it all boils down to how well managers and leaders treat their employees. This is where so many companies drop the ball. They promote technically adept people to management positions, even if they have virtually no people skills. They further compound the problem by not investing on management training and coaching, so these managers never develop the skills to bring out the best in their workers. But even when they do invest in training ad development, they do not tie it to their people management skills and year end performance review.

But even worse, many companies turn a blind eye to disrespectful or even abusive behavior by managers. The importance of having a top notch leaders and great managers who display people skills is imperative for long terms success.

Managers must take responsibility for staff retention. Their performance expectations must be based on technical and business abilities as well as how they manage their staff. This should not be considered a luxury by managers, but a true necessity which will deeply affect their chances for their career development. A wise employer will learn how to attract and keep good employees, because in the long run, this workforce will make or break a company's reputation.

Your company might have a fantastic HR retention strategy which looks great on paper, a great training and development scheme for employees and you can even pay them well. If they are not managed properly on the human side, sooner or later they will leave your company because people are not loyal to brands or company names, the bottom line that they are loyal to other people. Think about it.

I have been involved with Human Resources for many years in a few countries. From my personal experience and drawing from discussions with employees across levels and industries, I have concluded that their needs and desires are quite global in nature. Besides fair compensation for what they do, employees want:

  • Respect both personal and professional
  • Flexibility that allows for Work/Life Balance
  • Pride in where they work and what they do
  • Meaningful work
  • Sincere expressions of appreciation
  • The opportunity to learn and grow on the job
  • A sense of community and belonging
  • The opportunity to make a difference; to have input and influence
  • Employee retention involves being sensitive to people's needs and expecting the management to deliver at the human level. It takes effort, energy, and resources...and the results are worth it.


    Margaret Pitiris, is the Executive Director of HCS Human Capital Solutions Ltd, which provides HR outsourcing services, recruitment, training and specialized HR consulting services to both, local and international, clients. She has 16 years of progressive and diversified corporate human experience practiced in the USA and Cyprus.