Retention is about leadership

‘Staff retention is our biggest focus right now’ is a comment I hear currently hear over and over again. And not just from HR leaders but from all levels of leadership. Whilst The Great Resignation hasn’t reach all shores globally, the challenges we are experiencing are the same: there is a war on talent and no one can afford to lose their best people.

In a webinar I held in December 2021 I spoke to more than 100 participants about how to turn the Great Resignation into the Great Retention. The problems leaders are seeing:

  • Losing their best people to the competition: due to the movement of talent a large number of opportunities have opened up
  • Lack of engagement: people working more and more in silos and ‘extreme busyness’ is the norm
  • No budget for bonus or pay rises: businesses have been doing it tough or smaller businesses can’t compete with pay checks of larger firms
  • Increased workloads and burnout: employees have to cover for people who left or increased sick leave
  • Post COVID/return to office realist: not all organisations or leaders are creating engaging cultures where people are working from home and the office

What are the reasons for employees to stay

According to an Employment Hero​ survey these are the reason people stay:

So, if you are not able to offer a salary increase, your best bet to retain your best people is to offer them career prospects, engagement and make them feel valued and boost your training and development offers.

Retention comes down to how we lead people Employee retention strategies demand people management skills.
And leaders need help right now to find the balance of setting expectations and asking for accountability with creating cultures of resilience and wellbeing. Leaders need to take a more individual approach to have meaningful conversations and focus on what their team members need to feel safe and stay motivated at the same time.

Here are some other employee retention strategies:


1. Remuneration & Benefits

Review your pay structure and offer alternative benefits like subsidies for student loans, wellbeing grants, flexibility around childcare etc.

2. Rewards & Recognition

Remember that rewards are tangible (gifts have to be earned and need to have a personal value), and recognition is intangible (shout-outs and peer recognition)

3. Career Pathways

Have a process in place and develop your people leaders to have tailored development plans in place. It’s all about having development coaching conversations for employees to develop skills beyond their expertise.

4. Flexibility and Autonomy

Review how well your post-Covid workplace structure works. Run an engagement survey to find out and adjust as needed. People want flexibility by way of autonomy.

5. Leadership Development

Your people leaders need to develop their skills first to train and develop employees on all levels of the organisation. We are seeing a great uptick in People Leaders and Emerging Leader Transformation Programs.

6. Engagement

Break down silos and invest in time to not only work with your employees in live online settings. People still want to socialise and need the ‘water cooler’ conversation. Review how your team leaders manage their meetings cadence.

7. Company Culture

Review and renew your vision, values, purpose and guiding behaviours. We are half-way through 2022 and our leadership landscape has changed. Employees want to see a fresh approach and be involved. They want to know how they contribute to the purpose of an organisation. Time for team offsites and meaningful town halls.


There are many opportunities to put structures and initiatives in place to retain people but I believe it comes down to how people leaders have conversations with their team members, make sure they understand the motivators and fears of their people and offer personal development and job satisfaction.

Teach your leaders a coaching approach is my top tip to increase retention.

If you want to discuss how you can improve your retention through leadership, contact me on

Jessica Schubert

Jessica Schubert is a Leadership Expert, Executive Coach, Facilitator, Author and Speaker. She is obsessed with helping people realise their potential and unlock their inner genius.

Born in Cologne, Germany, Jessica has travelled the world and has spent more than 20 years leading cross-cultural teams in competitive markets throughout Europe and the Asia Pacific. As she worked with and coached her own diverse, cross-cultural teams, she came to realise that learning about yourself and developing interpersonal skills is the most powerful tool to lead and influence people around you.

In 2013 she launched Intact Teams, where she and her team have worked with thousands of leaders in organisations worldwide, delivering custom-designed leadership programs and workshops. These interactive and engaging programs are offered both virtually and in-person, helping leaders and their teams succeed in a complex and ever-changing business environment.

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Jessica Schubert