“But how do we keep them?”

Fighting the great resignation

It’s not that difficult to fill up the vacancies inour company, but preventing employees from leaving once hired seems a bigger challenge. How come?

It’s a exclamation and question I heard quite often during the past weeks when travelling through Europe, performing on stage, talking to innovative and interesting companies. And because I heard it so often, it struck me.

How come that most companies are rather good at hiring people for their vacancies, but find it difficult – once they found their people – to keep them on board? How come this has become difficult anyway, when in former years and decades people used to stay for years and years in the same company? When even passing an entire life working for the same employer was not that of a big exception?

Which reasons can be found for this apparently frequent and amongst companies well known but demoralizing phenomenon? And maybe even more important: What can we do to tackle this problem? What initiatives can we introduce for greater retention? How can we keep our employees on board without begging them on our knees? 

We could go through a list of questions to reflect upon, like  

  • Did the Covid pandemic play animportant role in this? People no longer had their commute to the office, often
    seen as a moment of personal me-time and rest. People did no longer have their colleagues to talk to nor the usual coffee breaks. What was left, was work and a one-man workspace at home. Did this situation make them reflect upon their work and wellbeing there and eventually made them decide to quit their job? 
  • Did it go wrong from the start? Didthe whole recruitment procedure fail? Did we give our newly hired colleague(s) a false image of the company? And once they’re hired and at work, they discover that we as a company failed in explaining our needs, demands and tasks? 
  • Are there elements missing in ourcompany and company culture that make people prefer to leave us, rather than to stay one day longer? And what are these elements? 
  • Did we pay too little for the work weasked them? Maybe we should have given them more from the start or promise them an incentive to be gained in the future?  

But rather than summing up a list of questions, it’sof a bigger help when coming up with clear answers and possible, tangible solutions. So let’s go.  

What most companies experience today is a biggerdrop-out than ever before. This is a fact. A fact that has been studied during the last two years. Studies that acknowledge that this is indeed a pivotal moment for companies. Studies that confirm how big the impact of the Covid pandemic indeed was. Studies that show us what elements have become of major importance for employees to be willing to stay on board. Or not.  

What may come as a surprise is this has little to do withmoney. Money is not one of these elements. Study data showed that “it's less an industry, role or pay issue than it is a workplace issue. When it comes to our jobs, we are motivated more by a sense of purpose and meaning our workplace offers than a financial gain.” 

I experienced it myself when I was invited for a talkat the Driessen Groep. A group of businesses who emphasizes happiness at the workplace. Happy employees, happy customers? They firmly believe this. Not because it would just be a fancy hype, but because they are strongly convinced that our society turns into a happier one, when their employees are happy. 

Turns out it’s all about keeping the employees happily on board, by creating a safe and happy environment and culture at the workplace.

The following elements and little tweaks can –when implemented - already have a great impact on keeping your fellows on board: 


If theleaders of a business or organization understand the level of passion their workforce has for the job, they are a step ahead of the competition. As a manager, you want your employees to have pride in what they do and in the company they work for. Those who work with purpose put forth their best efforts: a practice that can only benefit the goal of your organization. It’s important to look at every aspect of why people do the work they do and what drives them to do it. 

Engagement grows when transparency grows, when trust grows, when there is a clear WHY in the
company. That’s why more and more organizations are abandoning control & command where only the leaders have access to all information. Transparency increases involvement. You can start small by giving access to more information, perhaps together with a training to interpret the information. Open-book management can lead to employees better understanding how the financial numbers work and taking action to influence them. Some organizations (such as Morning Star) even let employees determine their salaries.

 “Don’t let them sit on the fence”, said DamianCotchett, Transformation Director at First Capital Bank in Melbourne earlier this year during one of my Tribe Events. There he described how he created 3 scenario’s, like leadership-groups, workstreams and crossfunctional teams which led to high performing and committed employees.


Effective leadership in business can bolster and promote teamwork, cultivate a sense of greater good, motivate, inspire trust, or provide purpose and direction. Or to say with the words of Steve Jobs: “Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.”
Good leadership is about transcending departments and building bridges. These leaders speak the language of different groups. A good dose of curiosity combined with an open mind can help transcend silos. Help your people by asking more questions, so they broaden their own perspective and thereby reveal new opportunities. 

Five qualities for moving from directive to supportive leadership: 

* have aliving, inspiring mission 

*continuously listen to your employees on how to improve your organization 

* destroy theivory tower (no more status symbols and private privileges) 

* dare to askfor help as this also stimulates the motivation of others 

* trust youremployees and do not micro-manage.


Transparent communication is crucial if you want to lead a successful organization and keep your employees engaged. Open data available in real-time to everyone in the organization is perhaps the ideal form of transparency, but you can also achieve a lot by making certain decision-making processes visible and holding monthly town hall meetings.
Another possibility is to share the vision of the company (and the employer) on leadership and other topics with your employees. For example, entrepreneur Richard Branson regularly writes personal stories on his blog - which is also visible on the company website - about his challenges and vision. 

Communicationis also about asking questions. Learn about your people. What are their passions? Where do they see themselves in the future? Where do they want to go? What other interests do they have? Learn about what they think about the company and their employer. Welcome feedback from all levels. People need to feel like their voice matters, that their opinion matters, and that their managers are interested in what they have to say. When we feel shut down we retreat and we start to seek an escape. Welcome input and ideas. We all want to be heard. It makes us feel valued.

Attention to well being

Through Life Long Learning: When you bring a lifelong learning mindsetto the workplace, it will have a positive impact on employee retention (job satisfaction, motivation), as well as creativity, productivity, problem-solving skills (fostering innovation and competitiveness), diversity and inclusion.

Through authenticity and mental wellbeing: There’s a strong belief inthe power of authenticity, in paying attention to your employees' mental healthand encouraging people to be their complete selves at work. And that means creating room for sharing the highs and supporting people during the lows.
Good mental health also becomes big part of HR's future as there is strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. Addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12%.
For this reason, Justin Bieber and online therapy platform, BetterHelp, are partnering to provide free access to therapy for Justin’s 250+ person touring crew and for his millions of fans, the latter of which BetterHelp has committed mental health services of up to $3,000,000 in value.

Through getting to know your people. Pay attention to their personality and skills. Try to utilize those other talents. Someone doing data entry might have great writing skills and might secretly be wishing she could use them. By getting to know your people you discover other facets to their personality. By affording them a chance to utilize their other skills you will create a meaningful work environment for them, one that relates directly to who they innately are. May we conclude that we maybe cannot stop every employee from leaving, but we don’t have to feel helpless either? With these retention strategies I am convinced employees don’t sit on the fence any longer, but we also keep them happily on board on the long run.  

Want to read more? 

- Don’tlet them sit on the fence – personal Blogpost on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dont-let-them-sit-fence-working-remote-teams-cyriel/ 

- TalentRetention – different articles on Beamery : https://beamery.com/resources/talent-retention 

- Driessen Groep : https://www.driessengroep.nl/