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  • Stewart Mathers

Attraction not retention

Updated: Feb 6, 2019

Organisations know that high turnover of people has a negative impact on their ability to function successfully.

Even through a recession when the job markets are tough, high turnover hurts. Aside from the obvious financial costs, there are reputation costs as well; HR functions today can calculate the monetary value of recruiting, training and developing people who then leave before fully achieving their return on investment. And organisations are getting better at measuring the reputation costs through customer feedback and employee engagement surveys. Despite all this many organisations still struggle to improve retention.


Having worked in the recruitment industry for a decade it is interesting to note that many organisations go to a lot of trouble and invest a lot of money in attracting the best people. Developing a compelling ‘brand’ identity, offering a range of attractive benefits, creating career development pathways with professional qualifications etc. What is particularly interesting is that when they have attracted the right people – they then start managing them. It is as though they, the organisation’s leaders, have forgotten about attraction (now that they have the new people on board) and gone into standard operational management mode, or that they haven’t really figured out how to continually attract their people throughout their careers.


When asked, organisational leaders and managers struggle to identify opportunities where they can continue to attract their people. When pushed they will mention, staff appraisals or performance reviews, special events and conferences. Although many organisations don’t want to hear it, ultimately this comes down to ‘selling’. Selling means finding out what people want (which changes as they go through life) and providing something that meets those needs. The two key questions to answer are;  what is it that the organisation ‘sells’ to its people? And what are the opportunities to keep selling? The answer to second question is easy – it is ‘all the time’. Every interaction and discussion a leader has with a group or one of their people is an opportunity to continue ‘selling’. The answer to the first question for every leader should be the very reason you do your job in the first place! Have a strong enough ‘purpose’ and the ‘attraction’ will work itself out – the right people will want more of what you’re providing and will do good work because they want to.

Keep Good People

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