Four Ways Leaders Can Prioritize Employee Retention in Their People Strategies

Recruiting top talent into an organization is an excellent opportunity to leverage new ideas, explore new perspectives, and drive performance; but, new talent comes at a cost.  In an uncertain economy and with turnover costs for senior staff estimated at up to 400% of their annual salary, many organizations are choosing to focus on retention to help manage budgets, build institutional knowledge, drive engagement and morale, and support growth and performance – all of which are core to a high-performance organization and a strong culture.

Prioritizing employee retention and development was one of the key themes highlighted by the 2023 Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures award nominees in their submissions to the program.  Here are four ways these culture-focused organizations are prioritizing retention and development in their people strategies:

1. Succession planning and pipeline building

It used to be that organizations focused only on leadership roles for their succession planning and pipeline building efforts. Today, culture-centric organizations are expanding their focus and future planning for a wide variety of key strategic positions – senior as well as more junior. Succession planning starts with understanding which positions will require a smooth leadership transition and then making sure you have the right people in place to step into those key roles when the time is right.

Organizations that are serious about succession planning are also focused on building strong, diverse, and inclusive pipelines of future leaders. Working with people leaders to identify top talent across the organization who may have an interest in (and aptitude for) leadership is just one way to build a pipeline of talent who can support the growth of the organization while developing the skills and knowledge required to step up when the time is right.

2. Career pathing

Team members who can see a future with the organization and understand the steps required to grow within the organization are more likely to stay – and stay engaged.  Career pathing is the process of creating a road map to help your team members realize their professional aspirations. These plans usually include skills requirements, tenure requirements, likely timelines, suggested stops along the path, and actionable activities to help employees reach the next step. Giving people a clear picture of how to achieve their career goals (and how you’re prepared to support them along the way) not only supports retention, it’s an attractive benefit if/when you need to recruit new leaders into the organization.

3. Expanding total rewards packages

Total rewards packages are a core tool for attracting top talent – and more and more, organizations are turning to their rewards programs to help retain talent as well. In addition to offering competitive salary and vacation options, culture-centric organizations view their rewards packages as opportunities to leverage their people-first approach and support their teams. Programs that embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion (e.g., caregiver leave, mental wellness coverage, gender affirming care), allow for personalization (e.g., hybrid work options, health spending accounts), and support employees’ well-being at work and at home can go a long way when it comes to keeping top talent from moving on.

4. Facilitating learning and development efforts

From supporting registration in external courses and conferences, to developing robust internal training programs, culture-centric organizations today are putting an emphasis on learning and development to retain team members. There is also a recognition that effective development doesn’t only happen in the classroom or online – job shadowing, mentorship, and other on-the-job learning opportunities facilitate career growth, build understanding and engagement across the organization, and can be an important factor in supporting retention at all levels.

For more than 20 years, the executive search experts at Waterstone Human Capital have been inspiring organizations across Canada and the United States to build high-performance teams and cultures that drive growth and success. To learn more about the key themes from the 2023 Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures award winners, and how Waterstone’s team of culture and recruitment experts can help with your people and culture strategy, schedule a meeting today.