How the Best Leaders Reduce Turnover in Key Employees

Inbound Marketing, Lead Magnet, Customer Attraction and Retention, B2B Concept

There is this common belief that every high-performing employee is looking for a different job. It’s almost as if a cloud of panic and worry has set in about the “great resignation.” It’s gotten so bad that the #1 concern of CEOs has become “hiring enough of the right people.”

While it’s undoubtedly true the quit rate for professionals is at its highest point since the U.S. Bureau of Labor started tracking the statistic in 2000, it doesn’t mean every employee is on the brink of quitting. 

In fact, if organizations put as much effort into retention as they do in recruiting they would be in a much better position. This is why the best organizations are winning the war for talent by focusing on retention over recruiting.  

The best organizations are winning the war for talent by focusing on retention over recruiting.

In a recent episode of the At the Table Podcast, Pat Lencioni said it well, “It’s never been more important to have a healthy organization and good culture because, for the shortage of people, the good ones are going to stay at the right places.” Not only is Lencioni right, but he also exposes the truth about how essential outstanding leadership is to retention.  

Great leaders put more effort into retention than they do in recruiting.

Prioritizing Retention Improves Recruiting

Recruiting talented people to join a team or organization will always be critical to long-term success. However, something phenomenal happens when leaders prioritize retention over recruiting. I refer to it as the “Retainment Cycle.” Here is how it works:

Great Culture + Engaged Employees + Optimum Results = Attracts Talent

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Are you looking for ways to prioritize retention with your employees? Here are some great places to start. 

1. Make Retention Everyone’s Responsibility 

It’s tempting to believe that retention is only a manager’s responsibility, but that wouldn’t be true. While front-line managers play the biggest role in the retention of an employee, retention is everyone’s responsibility. I shared some ideas in a recent interview here:

2. Share Common Values and Purpose

Money is easily the most popular incentivizing tool organizations use to retain and recruit employees. While pay is significant, it’s not the most important. People give their best effort when on a team that shares values and purpose. 

People give their best effort on a team that shares values and purpose. 

A consistent and systematic approach to aligning core values and communicating the deeper purpose behind the work is imperative. There is nothing worse than defining and talking about core values yet leaders are not demonstrating them. Leaders are the primary driver of core values, so they must embody them correctly. 

3. Coach and Train Like Crazy

People stay longer when they feel invested in and cared for. As Sir Richard Branson famously said, “train them well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

One way to train and care for employees is to have managers who act as a coach. A coach, by definition, trains, and instructs. In the Coaching for Excellence, I define coaching this way:

Coaching is improving the current and future performance of others to achieve higher levels of excellence.

Organizations that create a coaching culture outperform their competitors and maintain an upward trend in human capital development. 


Making retention everyone’s responsibility, sharing common values & purpose, and coaching like crazy are just a few of the critical things leaders can do to priorities retention over recruiting. Other best practices include:

  • Engagement surveys
  • Training Programs
  • Executive Communication
  • Mentorship Programs
  • Rewards and Recognitions Programs

The key is to find what works best for your organization and go all-in on executing it relentlessly every day.  

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About the Author, John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft and VP of Thought Leadership at Peoplebox. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How to Win the Post Pandemic Talent War


You can’t lead without people. Unfortunately, many bad leaders forget this simple truth. Instead of investing in and developing solid relationships with those they get the opportunity to lead, they complain, blame, and act as if people are disposable.  

While no great organization would advocate with this as a sustainable approach, it wasn’t the worst talent strategy for decades. Countless professionals were looking for employment, and those employed were scared about keeping their job. This put the power squarely in the hands of organizations.

However, the current environment has shifted dramatically, and the power of employment is now in the hands of talented professionals, and the best companies recognize it.  

The current talent environment has the power of employment in professionals’ possession, and the best companies recognize it.  

Research suggests that between 55% – 70% of professionals are actively looking to change jobs. Most professionals who have left or are thinking about going aren’t walking away for a small pay raise. They are walking towards leaders and companies who care about them and add value to their lives beyond a paycheck.  

Great companies change the lives of their team members, not just their bank account.

While no company or leader is perfect, there is a long list of companies going above and beyond to positively change the lives of their team members. Chick-fil-A, Movement Mortgage, Lippert Components, and Cora Health come to mind, to name a few. Creating a culture that changes the lives of their team members sounds obvious; putting it into action is a much different challenge.  

Retention Rules.

On average, employee turnover costs organizations between 1x-2x a year’s salary once they have been in the organization for over three years. A Google study found that the average employee that turns over within one year costs about $50,000. The cost of turnover is expensive, and retention is essential.  

Most leaders and organizations grasp this, but instead of implementing formal retention efforts, they go with the “Next employee up mentality.” This is a powerful mantra that many of the best sports teams live by when a player gets hurt or can’t play for another reason. Not only is it a good one, but it’s true. Every single person is replaceable, and no one is trying to change that.  

However, in a talent market like our current one, retaining high performers and great team players deserves a dedicated strategy corporately and implemented by each manager. 

The key to retention is for front-line managers to behave like leaders.

All Turnover Isn’t Bad.

One of the most significant mistakes leaders make is that believe they have to retain a team member that hurts their culture because the talent pool is limited. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Team members who aren’t willing to sacrifice their interests for the team might seem to help in the short term, but they hurt in the long run. 

There is never a good time for a leader to retain selfish team members.

Now contrary to popular belief, people do change. Especially when it comes to grasping the consequences of one’s actions. If a team member is struggling to meet or exceed the standard required to be a part of a team, make them aware. Then coach and give them a chance to make adjustments before deciding to move on.  

Be Proactive Around Talent.

A recent Korn Ferry study found by 2030, there will be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people, resulting in $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues. This means the talent shortfall is here to stay, and the employment market will continue to be hyper-aggressive. What’s required to thrive in a hyper-aggressive talent market is proactivity in seeking and developing people.  

Lawrence Bossidy said it well, “nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.”

Not only is Bossidy right, but it’s also never been more critical than it is today. A relentless approach to seeking talent and an equally persistent effort to develop people inside the organization are required to succeed today.  

A relentless approach to seeking talent and an equally persistent effort to develop people inside the organization are required to succeed today. 


The “how-to” strategies to improve retention, good turnover, and successful recruiting are endless.  If you want to know if your organization is doing a good job, look for these as proof:

  • Leadership development programs
  • Best in class technology tools
  • Core values highlighted in the hiring and promotion process
  • Culture of coaching and mentoring

I hope that instead of blaming, complaining, and acting as if people are disposable, you will do your part to make a difference in people right where you are.  Use the opportunities in front of you to “bloom where you are planted” because that’s exactly what the best leaders do. 

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

1 Surprising Health Statistic Managers Need to Know

Have you ever considered whether or not a team member has called out sick because of you?

According to the WorkPlace Research Foundation that’s exactly what might be happening. Companies that foster highly engaged workforces report an average of 2.69 sick days taken annually per employee, compared to companies with weak engagement efforts, reporting an average of 6.19 sick days.

2.69 vs 6.19

Employees who are overly stressed by their managers are more likely to call out of work whether they are sick or not and are more likely to get sick as well. The latest statistics show 75% of major medical costs in the U.S. are due to stress-induced health issues and 75%-90% of primary care visits are due to stress-induced health issues. Managers must start thinking more about stress and how they can help alleviate it.

What Managers Can Do

The best way to open up the conversation about stress related issues is to have open lines of communication. If you are a manager, the way to open up communication is to strengthen relationships with individual team members. This will allow them to open up when they are feeling extra stress or pressure they don’t feel they can handle. Without a strong relationship, the chances of a team member admitting they are stressed is extremely low because no one wants to be thought of as weak.

Build better relationships by making sure you carve out dedicated time with each individual member of your team. It could be as small as a 3 minute phone call or as committed as lunch once a month. The point is, you are showing them that regardless of how busy you are, you will always make time for them.

If you don’t take time to build strong relationships with your team members, they won’t just call in ‘sick’, there is a good chance they will leave forever.

About the Author Gordon Shuford is the Director of Leadership Development at LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. Gordon has a background in corporate wellness and coaching.

Why Empathy is So Important in Leadership

It was evident from our conversation that we both wholeheartedly agreed.  Entry level positions within most organizations are not valued by their leaders.  My colleague overheard our conversation and spoke up about the turnover problems he was experiencing within the entry level positions on his team as well.   The logical questions were simple:

  • If the jobs are so nonessential, why does the company continue to offer the position?
  • Why is the organization ok with high turnover?

I couldn’t help but think about the“Peter Principle” and feel his department or the organization as a whole was not going to change. This meant, employees wouldn’t be valued and turnover was going to be a continual problem.

Buckingham and Coffman discuss this in First, Break All The Rules.  The authors continually write about “what managers need to know” as well as the six questions every manager/leader should be thinking about.  The opposite was occurring in this situation–not thinking about how to solve the problem, rather providing a quick fix in hopes it will go away.  Not focusing on what needs to be learned, rather on what can be ignored.

The underlying problem in most organizations is the lack of empathy by leaders.   If a leader is not willing to provide some level of empathy about any position or challenges individuals in those roles face (especially for the low level positions) the people in those positions are always going to be disposable.  The same problems will always exist, people and positions will not be valued.

The use of empathy will go a long way to help leaders understand that every position in organizations are important, not just the positions at the top.

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About the Author:  Greg Jones is excited about helping people learn, especially about leadership. Find out more about him on LinkedIn.