Increasing Employee Retention (even in a pandemic)

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by Rohan Walker,

There’s no doubt that employee retention has a massive impact on the bottom line for all companies. Employee turnover is a really high cost to businesses as they re-hire for the role and induct new employees, it’s really time-consuming. We know that excellent employee retention not only saves in time and money but can also set you apart as an innovative company with a great culture and a great brand. Think about the likes of Google and Apple as an example. Let’s face it not only will this help attract top talent, but it will also help you retain it. So, assessments like DISC and FinxS workplace assessments from Extended DISC allow us to identify talent and understand their unique needs, such as their ideal environment and factors that may negatively impact their stress levels. Money and compensation packages are not the only factor to retain your talent. These assessments allow companies to learn how to motivate and keep employees motivated. We can find keys to providing rewards and incentives, which is essential as they are truly inspired to respond to the right reward program as many of you would know.

Why Does Employee Retention Matter?

Any little quick look on Google and you can pretty much find the cost for businesses, from everything like retention to re-hiring. The cost of losing an employee can range between 1.5 to 2 times (or even more) the employee’s annual salary, that’s a bit scary. One of the biggest expenses companies take on in the face of employee turnover is the cost to retrain new employees. In a nutshell, employee retention is truly the art of holding on to your staff once you’ve hired them. I know that many companies are restructuring this year due to Covid, and they’re struggling out there. There are regrettable circumstances that employees are being let go in this climate as well.

Why is Employee Retention Important?

In 2020 it was imperative to try and hold on to good staff, especially those representing the company well. Why? Well because companies have long woken up to the competitive advantage of being a people company. The old ‘churn and burn’ approach to hiring often results in poor customer service and brand image. So, why is retaining good staff such an issue? Well, because customers are placing increasing value on great service. With things like smartphones, it’s even easier to find a competitor or company to buy from asap or in the case of consumer goods to avoid a shop altogether and order online. Often the only thing you’ve got going for you as a differentiator is your people. Thinking about how easy it is, let’s take your local supermarket as an example, if you’re not happy with their service, you can choose an alternative, especially given many now offer curbside pick up or home deliveries. The retention of good employees is vital, as is rewarding them with incentives. Also, going overboard and rewarding them on their anniversary might not be such a terrible idea in this situation. Tip: Check out this list of great ideas for an employee’s anniversary.

Why Do Employees Leave Organisations

What is it that drives people to leave in the first place? Most of us, including myself, have some stories in the past as to why we left or moved on from a company. Some of the common issues and key drivers of employees leaving are:

  • Toxic Culture
  • Lack of Purpose or Meaning
  • Overworked Boredom
  • A Bad Boss

A toxic culture describes a culture that doesn’t fit its people, the type of corporate culture that sabotages morale, scares away new talent and actively drives away its best people. Sadly such a culture can emanate from one person.

People may also leave due to a lack of purpose which is why employee engagement assessments are a key strategy for detecting this as early as possible. People need their work to have meaning or some kind of purpose. Working with a shared purpose can increase motivation, performance and create more cohesive teams. The purpose may be the product or service itself, but it can also be the enjoyment of working in a positive team.

Another reason why employees leave is due to being overworked. Too much work and subsequently, too much stress is also a major factor in an employee’s decision to leave and find work elsewhere. Sadly, overwork isn’t uncommon, and to this day, it’s usually the norm. Some employers handle this by having a smart work allocation system like viGlobal Work Allocation software. Equitable work distribution can considerably reduce burnout and attrition.

Boredom is another common reason why people leave their jobs. Employees grow bored with work for several different reasons. They often feel that their capabilities are underused or their job lacks meaning so boredom can set in. Often bored employees are more stressed than overworked (see our employee engagement assessments)

A bad boss can also cause an employee to leave their job. People don’t leave their jobs, they say they leave their managers. This one kind of goes without saying, but I included it anyway because a bad boss is one of the most common causes of employee turnover.

Employee Retention Strategies

Like anything, some companies don’t practice the art of retention. There are definitely companies that really try to implement the best practice too and improve internal communications within the office. In exploring Apple’s strategy, let’s see some of what they say works for them. At one stage, Apple had an issue of shop staff churn. They implemented some specific ideals centering around decreasing this churn. They ended up increasing their shop staff retention by 28% just last year in doing this.

Apple actively says these aspects are what they introduced:

  1. They must have a strong vision and have a leader who can communicate it and communicates it often.
  2. Be careful not to undervalue any individual. Stay in tune with the employee sentiment. DISC is the perfect tool for this exact area. To sit with an employee and search out deeper issues before they even become an issue.
  3. Keep people informed. Like the good old coffee machine and water cooler in the past, social media can feed both positive and negative feelings or rumors in the absence of good communication. So transparency, keeping staff up to date, open communication channels, safety and diversity of opinions, are all things that can feed into positive reinforcement and keeping employees informed and communicated with.
  4. Choose the right employees to begin with. This is a big one. Apple puts a massive emphasis on team and cultural fit in alignment with potential new hires’ vision and mission than any other attribute. Skills are more comfortable to train than attitudes, so their thing is to choose the right employee. They put a lot into their recruitment and hiring programs.
  5. Continually train and develop people. Just look at some of the tools that can help assess specific areas to add development to them. So with training and development, Apple uses many assessments, and they use a lot of different tools and information and types of training to keep their people going. HR requires a certain knack to find the right employees and if your organization lacks in that sense, it may be a good idea to click here for more human resources training which would help them make rational decisions.

It was fascinating researching what Apple use for recruitment and getting their employee recruitment right. They use a lot of assessments and science-backed information, as well. They keep people informed, obviously through technology, but also informing them in the right way for who they are so they can listen and want to learn in the right way.

Employee Retention Tools

Extended DISC Assessment

The first Employee Retention tools I want to look at is using the DISC assessments to improve job satisfaction. We must learn and understand their unique qualities to have better job satisfaction to adapt ourselves to them.

  • What they’re what are their individual needs?
  • What are their unique wants?
  • Their strengths?
  • Their avoidance areas?
  • Motivators, rewards?
  • What are their preferred environments?
  • What are their fears?
  • What do they need in a manager?

The list of questions goes on! It sounds like a lot to learn, and you are actually right, but that’s why we use Extended DISC to provide team profiling and information about our people in a way that first of all makes sense but is actually usable to us.

Recruiting the right fit is pretty important. Apple says it is, Google says it is, we say it is too! There are companies who still solely rely on gut feeling and guessing during a face-to-face interviews. As you know, we tend to have a bias for people who are a little bit more like ourselves. Why? Because it’s easier to chat with them and they do their doing, like activities, similar to ourselves. So, we tend to go ‘yeah they’re great, let’s hire them!’ However, they may not have the requisite behavioural competencies for what the job position requires or needs.

Research Module

There is a free add-on tool to the DISC Assessment called where you can add tailored open ended questions to the beginning or end of an Extended DISC questionnaire. You can write these yourself, and they are separate from the DISC questionnaire that produces the Extended DISC assessment. These are questions that enable you to ask further questions about a candidate’s cv or work experience. You can also add these open questions on specific situations to help fine-tune all sorts of information required in the recruitment process.

Don’t forget it is included in the platform for free!

Reasoning Analysis

Many companies, including fortune 500 companies right down to SME’s and tend to use a mix of assessments, especially when it comes to recruiting. Our Reasoning Analysis, is a cognitive ability test, that provides different information from a behavioural assessment. The cognitive ability tests complement your DISC report, and you can order a combination report with essential information from both tools. When using a DISC recruitment report, you can use the Reasoning Analysis too as well to get two different types of reports that provides further information. The cognitive test includes nine different tests which can take upwards of 2 and a half hours to complete. We however strongly recommend you only choose three to four crucial aspects of that reasoning analysis to have feedback on things that are a priority in that particular position. These deep dive investigations are great for your filling your high level positions.

Employee Retention Techniques


DISC really shines in employee retention and getting to understand employees’ individuality and then developing the right aspects to fit the job even better. We’ve been asked to come into companies on many occasions that have had some sort of development. It’s been so general that really half the employees don’t actually relate to it or don’t need that particular part or it doesn’t really relate to them. What happens then is they lose a sense of purpose. When they don’t have that purpose, they get bored, and they literally check out, the challenge is gone. All employees should have further learning and development, and we know that. Places like Apple are very forthright about that particular topic. It’s not just the employees learning, it’s also the managers learning to lead, coach, and inspire their people too but in the right way that is unique to the person. So this is where DISC assessments give mass amounts of self-awareness to both employees and managers in how they prefer to operate daily.

An Extended DISC report gives invaluable insights time and time again into things like: preferred communication:

  1. how an employee likes to be managed,
  2. things that demotivate them,
  3. their strengths,
  4. their development areas,
  5. team attributes,
  6. avoidance areas,
  7. team design,
  8. leadership challenges,
  9. how they like to learn,
  10. decision making

You must admit, that’s pretty powerful stuff! In knowing this, its makes life much easier when you know how to make staff feel highly valued, they would have a purpose and good communication. It’s not likely that they will be searching for a job elsewhere unless something significant happens because they really do have that sense of value and purpose.

Employee Training and Development

Using the DISC profile report really does turn the review into a very unique and personal journey where both manager and employee have clear expectations for the next six months or year if you structure it that way. The employees value their reports and often use their assessments during the year to speak up and clarify something about themselves with others or their managers when they don’t actually have the words for it. They take their reports to meetings and say look this is an aspect that I really need or this is an aspect that’s bothering me can we talk about it. They bring their report in as a bit of an objective, neutral ground and they discuss it. It’s really a win-win towards job satisfaction for both parties.

Communication is crucial for retention. Especially on visions and values. DISC reports can really help in understanding the type of communication people need and the way that the manager should interact with their unique team members.

Involving the team actively in development was a significant factor.

Don’t forget soft skills coaching. You can take the insights from these reports, and you can create these fantastic training sessions around them. The reports are a stepping stone that gives you essential data and information into employee satisfaction. You can take them further and teach them soft skills is a really ideal way to do it.

The big thing is to take the time to learn about yourself and learn about individuals. For those of you that are managers that are listening it’s vital to know that your rising stars, your top talent also need motivating and nurturing. Though they might be autonomous, they also need a certain amount of your time. These reports can point those out they can tell you how they like to have your time, and they’re an excellent discussion starter in general for job satisfaction. If you can get job satisfaction from an employee, you’ve got employee retention in the bag!

If you are feeling overwhelmed at this stage, start with a DISC profile report. The DISC profile gives you so much information about people. The more information you know and can utilize with people, the more they feel heard and valued, contributing significantly to job satisfaction.

Extended DISC NZ

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