How to Ensure an Aligned Retention Strategy

Current State

Of highest priority for nearly all organizations today is keeping their most vital talent in-house. The departure of high-performing employees in an organization can be disruptive, at best, and crippling at worst. In such times of rapidly changing economics, technology, and even the nature of work itself, organizations must prioritize retention strategies to stay viable and competitive. According to the Brandon Hall Group™ Study, Retaining Talent 2023, a vast majority of organizations believe they are successful at retaining their talent (87%), which is substantially higher than previously (31% in 2022).


When HR and the business units are out of sync, the entire organization suffers. Creating and adhering to a cohesive retention strategy demonstrates unity of leadership and fosters collaboration. Even at a time when talented team members have numerous options, creating a unique sense of belonging in a workplace seems to be rare.

Underlying the disconnect between these two entities is typically a scarcity of resources — time, money, people, etc., or competing perspectives seen through two lenses, one as boots on the ground in the field and the other from inside a corporate headquarters site. Whereas teams work feverishly toward accomplishing objectives, competing priorities can impede progress. Without consensus of executive leadership and unification of efforts, meeting business needs and objectives will be hindered.


A retention strategy must be aligned with the organization’s business goals and longer-term strategic goals. A lack of alignment will result in competing priorities that divide efforts and resources unnecessarily. Uncertainty already pervades our reality and misaligned priorities only create more confusion and disruption. Organizations need to be positioned and ready to address flight risks and ongoing growth needs.

Without unifying leadership and command of the business, effort from team members will decrease and they will likely feel caught in the crosshairs of battles between the “higher-ups.” Unless top leadership establishes a cultural norm of “when one of us fails, we all fail” teams will spend their time and energy surviving the churn of turf wars and political battles.

Critical Questions

  • What’s the nature of the relationship between HR and the business units? How can you better align the talent management efforts between these two teams?
  • How seamless is the connection for a new hire throughout the processes of interviewing, onboarding and working on the job?
  • Do all stakeholders know what the goals and expectations are for retention?
  • Have you promoted hybrid or remote work to the greatest extent possible?

Brandon Hall Group™ POV

Your Retention Strategy: Be Proactive and Plan

Developing an effective retention strategy includes comprehensive planning, diligent implementation and precise tracking.

The only way to know where you’re going is to have a plan. A strategic plan includes the steps needed and the stakeholders who are responsible for taking action. Laying out what needs to be accomplished, by whom, and in what timeframe, is essential for an organization to move toward realizing its vision.

Identify what retention strategies may be needed by asking these questions

  • Do employees have access to career opportunities and see themselves growing within the company over time?
  • Are leaders retaining your talent? Employees need to feel heard and appreciated. Cultivating a leadership style that promotes open communication, regular feedback and recognition can greatly enhance retention.
  • Is the compensation structure competitive within your industry? Are non-monetary benefits such as flexible hours, health benefits and vacation policies available and realistic for your employees?
  • Have new hires developed a sense of inclusion and belonging during their onboarding experience? Conducting stay interviews during a new hire’s first 90 days can provide a rare opportunity to identify gaps that would otherwise go unnoticed. I remember being asked by my new Director if the new job was what I was expecting or not and why. Just the fact that she asked mattered to me. I was candid with her and we worked together to close some gaps. This definitely made me stick around rather than go back into job-search mode.

Put It into Practice

Highlight success stories, for example, talk to new hires who have had a positive onboarding experience and have them share the meaningfulness of that on their feeling of belonging and engagement. A seemingly small gesture can go a long way for onboarding. In one organization, the business unit’s hiring manager would meet the newly hired leader for lunch on Day One. Years later, that new hire was still recounting the story of her first day of work.

Create positive and ongoing efforts that emphasize the importance of retaining talent. New leaders especially tend to underestimate their influence on retention. Starting a regular practice of one-on-one meetings with direct reports can be highly effective. Recognition from a boss for hard work and excellent outcomes during a particularly challenging project provides a sense of purpose and meaning. Leaders who take feedback, through surveys or anecdotally, to heart and follow through earn credibility and loyalty, which translates to retention.

Consistency is Key

Track progress otherwise you won’t see the needle move. Identify relevant and meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can pinpoint sources of success and provide the feedback and recognition to those who are driving the change. For example, look at both voluntary and involuntary turnover separately to better understand your results.

To foster synergy and collaboration, encourage interdependency instead of accepting the cultural “norm” of staying in your lane. Both HR and business units must understand and appreciate each other’s roles, goals and challenges. Regular, transparent dialogue can foster this understanding, creating a common language and shared objectives.

When interviewing for a potential opportunity, I typically ask, “How does the HR strategy help drive the success of the organization and feed into the overall strategy of the business?” I can’t tell you how many times I got blank stares from HR leaders in response to that question. Let’s change that! Beginning with the CHRO and the CEO, who can join forces and align strategic priorities, essentially working in tandem to forge a clearer understanding between HR and the overall organization.




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