Recruitment vs. Retention. Chicken vs. Egg

Retention and Recruitment Strategies

How to Improve Employee Retention

Let’s face it.  Recruiting is expensive.  It’s also really complex.  The hiring metrics alone to calculate the cost per hire and employee turnover have steam coming from my ears, and I haven’t finished a single, solitary interview.  A quality hire can easily set your organization back 100-300% of a position’s first year’s salary.  Lost productivity, new hire and employee training are in addition to the up front recruiting and interviewing costs.  And because employee payroll are easily your number one expense on the P&L, it makes sense that your talent management strategy should be retention first and recruiting second.

And yet that’s easier said than done.  Companies like Best Buy are leveraging results focused environments vs. flexible scheduling.  Known as ROWE, (Result Oriented Work Environment) first launched in 2007 has resulted in a 45% turnover reduction across all employee levels in addition to the massive recruiting cost savings. Companies like Xerox are implementing a fully automated hiring process with zero interviews focusing on letting big data drive improve their employee turnover.  Their turnover has reduced by one fifth.  Each of these companies has experienced substancial turnover reduction two completely different ways.  What strategy is best?  Retention vs. Recruitment.  It’s like asking which came first the chicken or the egg.

Retention vs. Recruitment.  Chicken vs. Egg

Maybe flexible arrangements and implementing new systems like ROWE are a bit of a stretch in your organization, and you aren’t at the point to fully automate your hiring process with only testing questions.  That doesn’t mean that you a retention focused recruiting strategy isn’t right for you.  In the battle for human capital retention always wins.  It’s like shopping for a new outfit when you have the exact same one in your master closet.  It just needs pressed, and doing anything else is just a waste of freaking money.

Focus on Communication.   Talk to your employees.  Learn about what keeps them at your organization.  Is it the culture, pay, benefits, or professional growth opportunities that keep them coming back from more?  Schedule regular meetings to talk about to not only front level employees but mid-level managers as well.  Communication is the foundation for retention focused talent management strategy.

Competency Management .  Competencies are successful in guiding every aspect for talent management.  Based on your employee communications as well as your company learning and leadership directives, you can craft a competency driven retention strategy with a purpose.

Create Learning Moments.  Your top talent accounts for a small percentage of your employee base.  Take care of your everyday doers and achievers by providing them small learning moments to add value to your organization while learning professionally.  Schedule lunch and learns led by your high potentionals and bring in experts to help fill the gaps that you as well as your employees.  Learning moments don’t have to be expensive.  Sometimes it’s as easy as a 90 second how to video on Excel best practices.

Focus on More Communication. I believe that there can never be enough communication between managers or HR and the employee population.  Develop a clear communication strategy that aligns with your front line managers as well as your senior leaders.  Use these workplace communication channels to demonstrate that your team has heard and reacted to your employee base’s suggestions.  Let those same employees virally drive your messages and be the champions for your programs.

Your Internal Recruitment Strategy

While I’m a fan of retaining employees first before jumping to the often more expensive recruiting waters, it’s common for any organization to experience “good turnover.”  Educating your managers and senior leaders the difference between good and bad as well as the importance of retention and recruiting is more than just a nicely worded HR memo.  As you begin researching, planning, and building your company’s retention strategies, take a consultative point of view focusing on the numbers and ROI behind your recommended company retention efforts.  So chicken first, then egg.  Don’t go running off the mall to buy a new outfit when you have the exact same one at home unless you’re crazy.  And it seems like unfortunately a lot of companies actually are, and if they are your direct competitor that could be a good thing.  Plucked any good talent from those money burning folks lately?

This post was originally published on Glassdoor’s Blog where I’m a regular contributor.  Check it out.  

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jim Scarfone says

    This article is so relevant for us. Good one for our hr leadership team to discuss. At the surgical center buying time on linked In. CB



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