Has employee retention left the building?
Posted Friday, April 1st, 2016
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By Bert Sadtler

A recent technology industry study revealed that 67% of employees, who have between 1 and 5 years on the job, voluntarily leave their companies.

If this is shocking, then perhaps more attention should be given to the trends in today’s marketplace. Perhaps we need to change the perception of: “Employee Retention”.

CHANGE continues in business today. This is the new normal. It may be the only thing that is constant.

In my experience, today’s employment marketplace sees an employee change in their job every 3-5 years. It confirms that there is a shift in the recruiting and hiring paradigm from the days when employers were hiring for a lifetime.

The failure occurs when business leaders fail to be agile and nimble in their approach to hiring, their understanding of talent today and their expectations for “a forever employee”.

The shift from the 20-30 year employee to today’s 3-5 year average has traveled 180 degrees. Long tenure was once an indicator of a viable business. Today, it may no longer be a healthy sign for a business to have long tenured talent. With the growth of a healthy business, the talent that was the right fit at $5 million in revenue is not going to be the talent that is the right fit when the business is generating $20-$50 million.

We are not suggesting that a company changes out the entire team of its professionals. We are suggesting that a company that has little to no personnel change year over year may be stagnant, facing growth challenges and experiencing issues where leadership is averse to change in general.

The solution to redefining retention starts with embracing the changes in hiring and retention today. The statistics are telling us that the cycles of employment have shortened.

Today, retention should be redefined to address the retention of the relationship between employer and employee. Think about it; wouldn’t it be valuable to the employer to retain a great relationship with an employee who is departing for a better opportunity? What if that employee went to work for a prospective industry partner? Or a competitor? Or furthered their skills in another role and then wanted to return to your company? Couldn’t they deliver more value to your business in a role that is more senior than the one they previously held?

…On the other hand, if the relationship were to be destroyed once the employee left for a better opportunity and the ex-employee felt burned, they will never consider returning (in a role where they could offer more) And they would never be of value to your company by working for a prospective industry partner.

It starts with changing the philosophy of the business leader who can recognize that employment cycles have shortened and there is value in encouraging talented people to pursue a better opportunity if they are able to.

From a psychological perspective, if the business leader were to encourage employees to advance their career, fulfill their potential and were supportive if the employees leave for a better opportunity, wouldn’t that approach make the employee more loyal to their employer versus less loyal? Doesn’t a more loyal and more appreciated employee deliver a higher work performance then the one who feels they will be fired for entertaining career advancement by leaving for another role?

The question shouldn’t be “why is the employment cycle so short?” Instead it should be “What are the nimble and agile CEO’s and business leaders doing today to develop long term relationships with the talented professionals?” These are professionals who travel through your employment cycle before travelling into multiple follow-on cycles. Couldn’t their multiple employment experiences and professional growth position them to deliver value back to the earlier business leader?

What are you doing to change your company’s retention paradigm?

Does your company encourage personal growth knowing the talent may end up working somewhere else?

Have your implemented this philosophy throughout the organization?

How important is this version of retention to the growth and success of your business?


About Boxwood Strategies


Bert Sadtler is the President of Boxwood Strategies and is a thought-leader for best practices recruiting, performance-based compensation and the shift in the changing paradigm toward acquiring critical senior level talent.  

Boxwood Strategies is a management, consulting and recruiting firm located in the National Capital region. As   a dedicated, consulting resource to CEO’s and hiring managers, Boxwood develops   strategies for organizational growth through a focus on performance, as well as the evaluation and acquisition of critical talent.

To help companies meet numerous business challenges, Bert has co-founded the Alliance of Independent Managers, a group of diverse and accomplished senior-level professionals who are available to companies on a consultative and project basis. The focus of this group is to take “AIM” at a company’s challenges and opportunities, clearly defining it’s challenges, and deliver cost-effective solutions by using experienced, professional consultants instead of hiring full time employees. Market     sectors include: SATCOM, Space, Government Contracting, Communications and Technology.

Bert can be reached at: [email protected] and at BoxwoodSearch.com