They are the real capital of every company. Even in the age of advancing automation and digitization, every company needs people to lead it to success. In this context, the workforce – similar to a rope team on a mountain – is only as good as the weakest link in the chain. This is where Retention Management comes in. The art of employee retention is no longer an entirely new invention. However, it still does not seem to be popular or widespread. Yet employee retention would be of vital importance, especially for the companies themselves. After all, frustrated and demotivated employees can cause considerable economic damage to their employers. Internal resignation, for example, not only depresses self-motivation, it also reduces productivity and willingness to perform, has a negative impact on the working atmosphere and sooner or later ensures that sand gets into the gears of the entire company. According to a survey, 16 percent of all respondents in Germany were already at this stage in 2019. Once the spiral of dissatisfaction has begun to turn in a company, the direction that is taken here is predetermined: It’s downhill.

Till frustration do us part

In the case of some employees, management will be happy if they leave the company at their own request. If the performance or the chemistry is not right, an end with horror is still better than the reverse. However, some employees are something of key figures in the company. These don’t necessarily have to be members of management. People who go above and beyond, are reliable and have acquired a level of expertise over the years that is second to none are invaluable to any company. Nevertheless, many decision-makers seem to have a blind spot in their management style. Instead of making an effort to keep these long-standing and capable colleagues in the best possible mood, they are often overlooked, ignored and not included in important decisions. Money often plays no role at all, although it would not occur to most companies to introduce some kind of monetary reward system for particularly value-added personnel. The good news for all the cost-cutters and cheapskates on the boardroom floor is that money is not the answer, but retention management is.

What motivates employees to stay with the company?

The answer to this question is delightfully simple and short: happiness. People who enjoy going to work every day, feel good there and can satisfy their personal needs will be happy to stay with their employer. People are basically creatures of habit. If the circumstances fit, no new professional challenge is envisaged out of a pure pioneering or adventurous spirit. Anyone who gives “professional development” as the reason for this decision during the termination interview means, loosely translated, “Because I’m not happy here (anymore).” Of course, as a human resources manager, one could now argue that the workplace does not have the main task of making its employees happy. After all, they would be adequately compensated for their performance. Retention management shows where employees and their needs can be well met and where there is still room for improvement. According to surveys, only four percent of all companies use this strategic tool. In practice, however, retention management would be quite simple: What sounds like a hypermodern buzzword from a business management manual actually means only one thing in daily implementation: communication.

Talk to me!

The core of successful employee management is the appraisal interview. Many companies do without it completely, others misuse it as a kind of disciplinary measure. Yet this instrument in particular would offer great potential for accommodating staff in small and often cost-neutral steps. The needs and wishes of long-serving employees can be very diverse: family-friendly working hours, the workplace, the immediate job itself, or training and development opportunities. Priceless: the expression of appreciation. On the other hand, treating staff with suspicion and mistrust does not create a pleasant atmosphere in which you want to stay for the long term.

Retention management in practice

Like any HR tool, this one can be professionally implemented and supported by external agencies, for example as part of a QM offensive. The most important stages are the definition of goals (e.g., reduction of employee fluctuation), the assessment of the current situation, and the implementation in practice. However, the “employee retention” project can also be carried out in a very low-threshold one-on-one meeting. As we all know, it doesn’t cost anything to ask.



I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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