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null How to improve staff retention: identify and support valuable employees


There’s a line in Kenny Rogers’ song ‘The Gambler’, where he imparts some sound advice:
“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em”.
He was sharing a poker metaphor for life, but the line resonates for staff retention strategies.
You must learn to recognise when to retain the right people and know when to lose those who are not right for your business. Both retaining and letting go of team members can be difficult, so how do you work out who to keep?

Why is staff retention so important?

Nurturing staff retention promotes the health, success, and stability of any organisation.

The resources that go into hiring and training new staff can be significant. As such, a high staff turnover can be harmful to your business goals.

To secure long-term success, organisations should define development and retention strategies. Implementing these strategies will ensure staff remain engaged and driven.

Focus on the long-term potential of your staff members

Deciding which employees stay and which to ease out of your business is not simple. You’ll need comprehensive performance data and an accurate, objective assessment of potential.

On a very basic level, you should take the following steps:

  • Determine who the current star performers are and what qualities unite them.
  • Identify these qualities in more junior members of your team.
  • Facilitate professional development opportunities for these prospective star performers. Invest time and resources into their development.


Encourage promotions and development across teams

For organisations eager to boost their retention rates, promoting mobility in numerous directions can fend off attrition. This strategy is on the condition that companies make it easier to find new opportunities within their metaphorical walls.

Identify low performance early

Throughout the development process you may discover an employee that is underperforming and lacks the necessary potential. These individuals are more of a liability than they are an asset to you. Consider it your duty to delicately phase them out of the business.

Boost employee morale by praising your best people

You may feel that letting your employees know how valuable they are to your business is a risky move. Praise could encourage employees or a star member of the team to seek employment elsewhere and maximise their worth.

Some managers shy away from dishing out such praise to minimise this risk. However, by never recognising exceptional work you could be creating an unpleasant work environment.

Recognition programs could increase your employee retention rate

There’s a way to show your appreciation for your staff without overinflating their egos. By letting staff know that you appreciate their efforts, you can encourage loyalty.

According to Knight Frank, a positive company culture is the lifeblood of any thriving company. By encouraging loyalty and good morale, you stand a much better chance of retaining your staff.

Remember that no one is indispensable

It’s almost impossible for a successful business to function with zero labour turnover. It certainly isn’t desirable for your business either. Without a steady income of fresh ideas, perspectives and competitive intelligence your organisation will likely become complacent and stagnate.

Acknowledge that even engaged employees will move on eventually

On average, employees stay at a company for about five years. Expect and prepare for some of your team members to move on after a while. After all, voluntary turnover is nothing personal. Some employees just require a different challenge or to follow a new career path.

You should never leave yourself so exposed that if one high performer leaves, overall performance declines and the team crumbles. Your robust succession plan should help you to ensure that your employees are engaged enough to cope with losing a star performer.

What does true staff retention mean?

Good staff retention doesn’t necessarily mean high retention; you’ve got to take each business on a case-by-case basis. Good staff retention is in fact all about determining who the top performers are and holding on to them and them only.

Staff retention is not simply based on offering flexible working for home options, or health insurance benefits. We must continually support and review staff performance beyond the onboarding process. By keeping clear sight of how our team are performing, we can recognise who to hold, and when to fold.

Learn more about staff retention strategies

There are many measures you can take towards retaining your best staff. There is no single sourcing strategy that can retain tomorrow’s agile workforce, so you need to be able to act quickly. Fast-moving, flexible teams can identify, adjust and respond to change. Once you have a plan for the unexpected, you can benefit from a functioning workforce.

Looking to future proof your organisation? Find more information on retention here:



Marc Burrage

Regional Managing Director, Hays (Asia) 

Marc has broad industry and functional expertise, with a proven track record of continued success, having led and grown businesses in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. 

Prior to working in the recruitment industry, Marc held various sales and marketing management positions in the automotive industry. He has extensive business transformation and change management experience, and is adept at building, developing and leading cross-functional teams. 

Marc was a board member for the Leadership Institute of New Zealand and studied strategy at Ashridge International Business School.