Originally Published April 12, 2010

I wonder if the obsession with employee retention is a misplaced focus for today’s leader. Studies show a retention-focus is paddling against the generational current. Young people today want meaning, responsibility and a voice in their employment. They’ll stay as long as they are growing and feel a sense of the future. But they will move on to move forward. The likelihood is you won’t keep them. What if you accept that and make it work for you?


How would you re-think your business if you knew every employee was only going to stay for 2-3 years? How would you sharpen on-boarding? How would you accelerate accountability? How would you fine-tune expectations? What changes when you empower people more quickly to make a difference? Think about it. Will they find their jobs more interesting? Stickier?

  1. Einar Johanson /

    I just spoke today with a co-worker, and we were talking about giving gift cards and gifts for awards for safety, competence and general good team work. Some companies are not doing this any longer, saying that this should come as a mandate for the employees. I disagree, thinking that the more an employee is recognized and treated great, the more he feels like he / she is appreciated and the more they will want to stay and build a greater company, which, more than likely, will create more rewards, and ultimately more profits for the company! Just a thought, Cory. Hope you’re having a great summer! Einar.

    • Corey Olynik /

      Yes. My main thought on this is – if retention is the goal, leaders are missing the point. The goal needs to be engaged, encouraged and recognized employees who will choose to stay for a while and will likely choose to move on when the time is right for them. Either way, they give their best for you for the full time they are with you, they are ambassadors for you when they move on, and, quite possibly, they might return at a later date with enhanced skills, increased experience AND a love for the culture they know you’ve created. Everyone wins.