How to Create an Employee Retention Action Plan

By Barry Sweeny, © 2004

The following are the recommended steps which organizations should take to assess their own local true costs of staff attrition, the potential benefits of an effective mentoring and staff development program, and to build a plan to increase staff retention and reduce those costs.

1. Set the Goal:

A. Assemble a group of all the stakeholders in new employee hiring and success in leadership development, and in staff performance improvement.   Consider:

  • A Board of Directors member
  • An upper and a mid level manager
  • HR/personnel administrator
  • The Mentor Program Leader
  • A representative of your site managers
  • Staff developers & organization development leaders
  • Local staff representatives of employee collective bargaining groups
  • A client / customer / end user group representative
  • Representative of the local work force at early, middle and late career stages.

2. Create a Common Base of Knowledge:

A. Duplicate and review the contents of this and related articles.

B. Read and discuss other related information regarding the challenge of attrition, retention, and it’s financial and non financial effects.

3. Choose a Focus:

A. Discuss organization initiatives, such as strategic goals and performance improvement plans and their relevance to recruiting and retaining a quality, diverse staff.

B. Decide on the staff categories for which you will analyze attrition.

  • All employees on your staff (certified and noncertified? Certain career levels?)
  • All certified?
  • Only noncertified?
  • Only certain employee specialists?
  • Only employees in positions which are difficult to fill?
  • All high performing employees?
  • Only low performing employees?
  • All high performers who have leadership potential?

4. Get the Facts to Build the Case:

A. Use the information in this article to design a plan to collect the data for your own local cost of attrition for the targeted staff group(s).

B. Collect and review your local data regarding your true cost of staff attrition.

C. Conduct an anonymous survey of all current employees about their intentions to stay or leave your district during the next few years, the factors they consider in that choice, and the relative importance of each factor to them.

D. Conduct an anonymous survey of all possible former staff which have
recently left the organization. Inquire into the factors they considered as reasons for leaving and the relative importance of each factor to them.

For each of these previous steps, be sure that the data collected include employeesí
positions, number of years in their profession and in your organization, grade or
hierarchical level, site at which they work(ed), their manager’s name, and other variables which may help you interpret their responses and plan targeted improvements.

5. Analyze the Facts

A. Analyze the attrition data collected.

B. Look for patterns which suggest which factors play a role in staff decisions to stay or leave.

C. Create a list of open-ended questions that would help your group clarify any questions about the data.

D. Use two focus groups to ask open-ended questions for clarification. One group should be current employees and the other departed employees. Be sure that the data collector will be perceived as neutral and safe to talk to, and advertise that when inviting participation.

E. Analyze the new data collected.

F. Determine the priorities staff have regarding their choices to stay or leave by considering which factors are the highest priorities.

6. Develop an Action Plan:

A. Write a statement describing the kind of workplace that will attract and retain employees.

B. Begin to create that kind of workplace by designing the new employee support or the leadership development system to utilize and model the priority factors for attracting and retaining quality staff.

C. Explicitly describe to all staff the strategy to transform the workplace for all staff by starting with redesign of the New Staff Mentoring and Development Program.

Possible Attrition Analysis Plan

Data Collection Plan:
Factor Data needed Data source Person to collect data Data due date
Data Analysis Plan:
Factor Cost Potential Non $ Cost Per Year Per Staff Person # Staff Total Organization’s Annual Cost