Content created by Ali Uren Founder of Kiikstart

Employers are obsessed with retention to the point it clouds judgement and leads to relationships continuing well past their healthy use by date so why do businesses need to re-think retention like right now?

As leaders we need to be self-assured enough to know that no relationship last forever and neither would we want it to. Quality in terms of the project outcomes and impact we create over how many years an employee has been warming a seat wins hands down – always.

Right now is the time to rethink what matters in our workplace relationships, placing more emphasis on:

  • Quality of what is delivered in terms of valuable outcomes and impact not years of tenure.
  • The degree to which we are kind to one another – even in times of change and challenge.
  • How often we have respectful but genuine, useful dialogue to discuss what really matters.
  • The level of wellbeing and connection felt amongst our people.
  • How creative our people are and the amount of space we allow for new ideas.
  • How we value time to reflect on what is working, what is not and how we will find solutions.
  • The amount of trust we create in our relationships.

So, while we keep focusing on retention being the main goal of business let me bring a different perspective.

We don’t need to keep the relationship going when we are no longer the right fit for one another. But still this absolute obsession with retention “cause to hire and onboard is so expensive” remains. See my comments on this at the end of this piece.

What we want to do is ensure that while we are together, we are producing great work and enjoying the ride as much as possible. We are part of a business that is creating something legendary, together.

The aim is not to put unfair and unreasonable expectations that the relationship will last for the next 5,10 or 15 years. It’s unhealthy, not viable and the weight of this expectation can be heavy on your employees.

This is a relationship like any other – we need to be growing at the same rate and still finding each other interesting for it to work and be seen as enjoyable and worthwhile. Marriages and friendships breakdown because this is no longer the case. The employer and employee relationship is no different.

Valuing retention over employee and business growth is not helpful.

But most businesses have no way to currently measure the impact an employee makes past their current job role KPI’s.

Nor do most businesses have truthful, up-front conversations with their workforces about how they want to measure/self-assess their own outcomes and impact.

It’s time to create work environments that can have respectful, no BS conversations around the topic of retention.


Below are 9 questions I have designed to reframe employer and employee thinking around retention. And to open up different, insightful discussions around what the future looks like for both parties.

A word of advice: Before you ask these questions remember you need to create a sense of trust between yourself and the employee so make sure you communicate the following beforehand.

  • The purpose of asking these questions -what are your motives.
  • What you are hoping to achieve from asking these questions.
  • How you plan on using ideas and insights to do something positively different in the business.
  • What is the benefit of the employee of being part of this discussion.

Ok so back to the nine questions to ask so you can open up a different conversation around what the future looks like between employer and employee.

  • What does great look like in your role in the next six to 12 months – be specific about what you are delivering and how?
  • How do you want to measure your outcomes and impact in your role in the next six to 12 months – what evidence are you looking for to know you are on track and delivering valuable outcomes?
  • How do you assess your own performance to determine if the role or business is still a great fit for you?
  • How would you know when it is time to part ways and look for other opportunities?
  • What elements are crucial to your wellbeing in the workplace – is there something missing and how can we find a solution together?
  • Are there experiences in the workplace you are not getting but would like and how could we make this happen?
  • Reflecting on your current role what do you want to re-design about it?
  • Are there elements in your role that are no longer relevant or useful that need to be removed?
  • Describe the ideal future for you in the business based on where you are currently. What gaps, threats and risks could stop you realising this future?

What are some of potential solutions?

If you are bold enough to introduce these questions to your team as part of an ongoing check in, the organization will make three, impactful statements:

  • We are not desperate and it’s more about quality of what is produced together not years of tenure.
  • We create a place of trust and show through action that we want to have the best possible experience working together for however long this may be.
  • There are no secrets – we are confident enough to talk about what the future can look like and plan for different scenarios/realities for both the organization and the employee.

Workplace wellness would increase as employees actively participate in creating their future impact and outcomes through this approach.

By changing our perspective around how we value retention we can start to change the relationship between employer and employee. And how we measure the real value of this relationship.

Employers want to retain at all costs because “it’s so expensive to “train” and onboard new staff” and my response to this is threefold:

1. This is the investment you make when you hire people not chat bots.

2. It’s time to look at your learning and development processes, particularly around onboarding and see where there are inefficiencies and gaps.

This brings me to my third point.

3. Start reviewing your approach to learning and development throughout the entire end to end employee experience.

Where is there waste in terms of what is delivered and how? What are you doing that brings no benefit or positive impact to your team or the business that can be easily removed to save finances and time?

Get wised up on the three actions above and you will start to find answers to the age old complaint about how expensive it is to onboard new staff.

Wanting to reframe how you think about employee retention and create a different organization as a result? Please reach out at kiikstart.com/contact or linkedin.com/company/kiikstart

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