Manager and Employee Retention Conversations

Manager and Employee Retention Conversations

January 5, 2022
Annette Maggi
Human ResourcesCareer Development

By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

The Great Resignation is a phenomenon guaranteed to move past 2021. While the media headlines focus primarily on the numbers of people leaving jobs, the details show that while some individuals are deciding to retire early or that their household can live on one income, more people are resigning from one job to take a new role. The pandemic has proven that employees can be productive working from home, leading more employers to offer remote working arrangements on a permanent basis. This has opened the job market extensively.

The end result, whether you’re an employee or a people manager, is that open dialogue regarding job satisfaction is essential. Assumptions regarding happiness in a role and/or commitment to a retailer cannot be made. In early 2022, retention discussions between managers and employees are essential to ensuring a productive, committed team positioned to achieve the department’s goals.

How does it work? While it’s ideal for a manager to initiative a retention conversation, employees can also make the first move. The reality is that a lot has likely changed in the market, organizational landscape, department strategies, and individual’s experience, skills, and career goals since a retail RD joined the team. A retention dialogue is a reset between an employee and manager to better understand where each is at today. In this dialogue, employees share what they’d like to do within the organization and how they’re interested in growing their career at the company. Managers actively listen, finding the sweet spot of what’s best for both the employee and the retailer as a whole, not just their department.

It’s essential that this be an open dialogue and that managers avoid getting defensive or shutting doors prematurely. Some good starter questions for retention conversations include:

  • What motivates or energizes you in your work?
  • Is it clear why the work you do matters to department and company leadership?
  • Which of your skills do you feel is not being used in your current role? 
  • What new opportunities do you see in our organization that interest you?
  • How can I and the company best support your career growth?

Managers bear the responsibility of following up on the discussion as they would in a job interview, providing clarity on next steps and what they are able to do. It’s important for managers to understand that the message “we’ll review this in six months” is losing ground with employees, and that an individual may choose an opportunity outside the company in that timeframe.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that it costs a company six-to-nine months of an employee’s salary to replace the position, making employee retention efforts a much more cost-effective approach.