Tips on Retaining Staff

Posted: 10.16.2015
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The market for quality staff has become more and more competitive with demand exceeding supply in many areas of the economy – a trend that is expected to continue in the coming years as boomers retire.
In addition, the cost of hiring new staff (e.g. costs of advertising and training, productivity delays, etc.) has increased substantially over the last decade.

Here are some suggestions that your organization can implement to minimize the risk of your employees leaving, many of which are of low or no cost ideas to implement.

Hiring Practices:
  1. Hire right in the first place – take your time in making sure you find the right candidate up front both from your perspective and the candidate’s.
  2. Hire people with complementary skills to what you already have in your company – this way, people will feel that they bring something to the company that no one else has.
  3. Find out what employees want before you hire them and make sure that their careers go in that direction.
  4. Hire employees with a variety of experience and backgrounds so that employees can learn from each other and share ideas.
  5. Look at hiring employees from other countries who are looking to get Canadian experience – generally, these people are extremely loyal to companies that offer them their first Canadian experience
  6. Look for people even when you’re not hiring – when you need to hire someone, it may take awhile, especially for difficult positions so anticipate existing employees leaving and you’ll be able to back-fill quicker; that way, current employees will think people want to work for your organization
  7. Hire employees who live close to your office – with increasing gas prices and traffic, employees will be less motivated to look elsewhere if they live close to their work.
  8. Pick up on any negativity during the interview process that can end up negatively influencing other employees

Compensation and Benefits:
  1. Overpay compared to the industry if you can – although many employees don’t leave their positions for pay, overpaying staff reduces the risk that they’re leaving for that reason. The costs of retraining far exceed the costs of paying a little more than your competitors.
  2. Encourage employees to take their full vacations to allow them to recharge their batteries
  3. Make sure your company benefits are in line with industry standards and exceed them if possible
  4. Give extra time off for overtime – if an employee has been working on a large product which has resulted in longer than normal hours, give that person extra time off separate from their regular vacation
  5. Allow flexible/summer hours

Managing of Staff:
  1. Ask employees how they’re feeling about their positions one-on-one – don’t assume that people like or want to be in their positions; perhaps it may be time for a change to another role or division if the organization has an appropriate opportunity
  2. Allow internal employees the first opportunity to apply for new openings before looking at external candidates. As well, if an internal employee applies for an internal position but ends up not being selected for that role, be honest as to the reason(s) they didn’t get the position.
  3. Keep employees challenged by giving them more responsibility (e.g. team lead on a project)
  4. Identify anyone who may appear to be in a rut and address any issues directly with them
  5. Ask your employees how their roles/company can be improved.
  6. Let your existing employees know what your company’s goals are and where the company is heading – be as honest as you can and encourage buy-in
  7. Build teams – let employees get to know each other outside of work by having social functions
  8. Encourage employees to participate in associations and attend trade shows on behalf of the company
  9. Ensure your employees are given appropriate training for their positions.
  10. Create a positive environment – a positive environment where a team is working cooperatively leads to less staff turnover
  11. Recognize/praise employees publicly – a little recognition goes a long way
  12. Be aware of differences in generations – generally, younger employees expect a greater work/life balance than previous generations
  13. Give regular feedback – both positive and negative
  14. Build trust in your employees and employees will build trust in your organization
  15. Have your managers manage on a consistent basis – make sure policies and procedures don’t vary from one division to another
  16. Take away politics – addressing any politics in the office at the earliest opportunity will reduce distractions
  17. Be honest about the company’s financial situation – if the company is not doing well financially, address it with staff and discuss what the strategy is for improving things; getting buy-in from employees will build trust
  18. Make it fun to work in your organization
  19. Yelling doesn’t work anymore!
  20. Create an open and comfortable environment
  21. Give all the tools needed for employees to do their jobs – supplies, computer, training, etc.
  22. Coach, don’t tell
  23. Give employees the benefit of the doubt in order to build trust
  24. Cross-train staff – this will help employees feel that they’re part of a bigger team

  1. Do an exit interview – the reality is that it’s impossible to retain staff forever; as such, when they give notice find out the reason(s) they are leaving and what the company could have done better to retain them so that improvements can be made.
  2. Counter-offers – generally, counter-offers (where an employee who has resigned is given an increase in pay, a promotion or something else to encourage them to stay with the company) is not a good idea because it usually just delays the candidate leaving anyway. However, in certain situations, a counter offer may be an appropriate strategy for retaining staff.
  3. Stay in touch with former employees – their new positions may not be working out the way they expected and may consider returning, although conditions would need to be set for someone to return.


Many of these suggestions are not expensive to implement nor are they all related to compensation. Many of them relate to hiring and management.
Although you can’t even ensure that staff won’t ever resign, if they leave on a good note, it may reduce further resignations. Don’t give employees reasons to not like working with you and you’ll find retention of staff will increase. allows companies to post their positions online, search a resume database to find candidates, publishes a monthly Toronto Jobs newspaper and provides full recruitment services (temporary and permanent) for a fee. It also allows candidates to search and apply to positions directly on-line and get career, interviewing and resume tips all at no charge. You can reach at
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