How strong your bond with your company is

Staff retention

engl .: staff retention

includes all personnel policy measures with which the commitment of the employees is maintained and thus their qualifications and their commitment to the company are secured.

However, staff retention can also relate solely to securing strategically important knowledge resources by storing them in so-called knowledge systems.

For companies, there is a high need for staff loyalty when their market success is particularly dependent on the personal knowledge and commitment of their employees and the training of new employees is associated with a high level of effort. Symptoms of a high need for attachment are also dangers from employees who have left the company and who appear as competitors in the market, or a marked drop in earnings after the departure of individual employees.

Symptoms of a lack of staff loyalty of employees can express themselves both in behavior and performance:

  • Above-average or increasing absenteeism and fluctuation rates in an industry comparison.
  • High tendency to conflict and work stoppages combined with active demotivation of other employees or targeted damage to the company.
  • High error rates in the provision of services and a lack of initiative in identifying and eliminating the causes of errors.
  • Small number of suggestions for improvement and a general tendency towards resistance to change.
  • Unauthorized secondary employment during or outside of the agreed working hours.
  • Low loyalty of employees to the company in contact with cooperation partners and customers.
  • Little interest in particular in company-specific further training offers of the company.

Staff retention measures can be differentiated according to how they affect the motivation of employees to stay with the company. Klimecki and Gmür (2005) differentiate between four Bonding pattern:

  • Bond through coercion: It exists when the person is convinced that they have no alternative to the existing employment relationship because leaving the company would have unacceptable consequences. Such a situation exists, for example, if a far-reaching non-competition clause (-> non-competition clause) has been agreed in the employment contract (-> employment contract) in the event of departure. The retention effect for the company is twofold: a departure of the employee is almost impossible; However, awareness of this can lead to demotivation, which inevitably reduces the benefits of the employee and his / her skills (-> qualification) for the company.
  • Attachment through affective commitment: The bond here is based on affects and emotions (-> action theory of motivation), such as joy, pride, affection or gratitude. It can be based on the employee finding the company's products attractive and identifying with them. Friendly relationships with superiors or colleagues can also establish affective commitment if these relationships are closely related to professional activity.
  • Binding through normative commitment: In this case, the employee feels morally obliged to the company, its values ​​and goals or the other employees. The normative bond occupies a middle position between the bond through coercion and the bond through affect: the person feels compelled to stay and he is emotionally obliged, but this obligation is linked to a higher value. Examples of this could be family relationships or family traditions on which the employment relationship is based. However, there is also a normative bond if a manager feels obliged to his employees during a crisis situation.
  • Binding through calculative commitment: The employee's loyalty to the company is the result of weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of current employment in comparison to alternative job offers. Calculative commitment is based on the conviction that if you leave, you have to accept disadvantages which are not outweighed by the prospective advantages. These considerations not only include financial gains or losses, but also considerations regarding security, belonging, recognition or self-realization (-> hierarchy of needs). Such a bond can relate to an above-average salary, membership in a career association or exceptional freedom in the exercise of one's own work. Compared to the other three loyalty patterns, it is easiest to control a calculative loyalty within the company. However, it has the disadvantage that it is financially expensive.

Regardless of the loyalty pattern, retention measures can be applied at five different levels, ranging from the overall organization to the individual task (overview 1):

  • Loyalty to the company: It relates in particular to the company's products and its public image, but can also be linked to the entrepreneurial personality and the values ​​it represents (-> norms and values).
  • Relationship to the corporate division and its position within the company: This bond can result from a high level of identification with the function of the department and its reputation within the company.
  • Binding to the working group: This refers to the bond with the group of colleagues with whom the person concerned works personally. The bond here is the expression of a strong integration in the team.
  • Bond to individual caregivers, which can be based on close cooperation or personal friendship: In addition to the direct manager, important reference persons can also be a mentor (-> mentoring) or a cooperation partner. The bond can result, for example, from a particularly trusting relationship, a personal obligation or from the calculation of having exceptional career opportunities with the help of this reference person.
  • Commitment to the task: That means the work content as well as the responsibility or prestige associated with it. A person's commitment to the task can also be based on a highly specialized qualification profile. This is the case when the person has specific qualifications that are important for the current task but would be useless in another position.

Overview 1: Approaches to staff retention (Klimecki / Gmür 2005)

 Forced bondNormative bindingAffective attachmentCalculative binding
Company and its productsan employment contract
application ban in the event of departure
Employment due to family traditionidentification with the company's attractive productsPay components that are based on the duration of the
belonging to the drive
can be calculated
Department and their positionan activity in development
rich with far-
reaching area
inner obligation
towards a company
area in a crisis phase
Proud of the success of a department in which you play a leading rolepersonal status based on belonging to a successful department
Team and working atmosphereCollaboration in a timed
put project and sanctions in the event of early exit
Leading a team in an ongoing restructuringstrong involvement in a successful
rich team
Membership in a career-promoting rope team
personal relationshipCooperation on
due to strictly sanctioned kinship
Existence of a mentoring relationship
hung, which is in a critical phase
close friendship
daily related
tendencies to work colleagues
close contact with a leader
power from which intensive support can be expected
own work assignmenta highly specialized activity that is only possible in this companythe conviction of being personally irreplaceable in the companyhigh satisfaction
means with the free spaces that the current position allows
an activity that is essentially based on company-specific
fishing qualifications
builds up

As Butler and Waldroop showed in a study published in 1999, people are driven by a total of eight basic interests, each of which is one or two in the foreground of a person:

  • Application of technologies.
  • Quantitative evaluations.
  • Development and application of concepts.
  • Creative development.
  • Advice and mentoring.
  • Controlling People and Relationships.
  • Control over companies or areas of the company.
  • Influence through language and ideas.

The bond with a company is based accordingly on the fact that the person has the opportunity to realize their primary interests in their work.

Among the personnel functions, the design of the personnel deployment policy, further and advanced training as well as the company's incentive systems are of particular importance for successful personnel retention:

  • Personnel deployment and work organization: From the perspective of the loyalty goal, the deployment of personnel and work organization are important because they influence management and cooperation relationships. A team organization creates the prerequisites for close relationships, but the longer they last, the more lasting they are. Project groups with a more informal character and low commitment, on the other hand, encourage the tendency towards individualization and a low level of internal obligation on the part of the individual towards the company or the work area. Those involved then attribute successes to each other individually, while they attribute any failure to the framework conditions to which there is no reference. If the individual is successfully involved, success is more likely to be attributed to the team and failure is seen as an impetus to deal with the problem.
  • Continuing education and training: Personnel development measures not only affect the employability of the individual in the company, but also their labor market value. The more specifically the qualifications conveyed are geared towards the requirements in the company, the lower the effect on the individual labor market value and thus the lower the likelihood that the employee will find more attractive working conditions at another company. Such a risk exists in the case of a shift from narrow specialist knowledge to generalizable basic and meta-qualifications, because this increases mobility (-> employment stability). However, this problem can be limited if, for example, the measure is not carried out individually but in a team.
  • Incentive system: With the design of the incentive system, very different goals can be pursued, depending on the orientation: performance or requirement justice, social goals or the balance of labor market imbalances. A staff-binding effect is achieved by offering future-related options in addition to a purely past-related performance fee. A slightly differentiated variant is the seniority principle (-> seniority) of the remuneration structure, as it is still widespread in public service law. However, this principle can also be applied individually within a flexibility-oriented personnel policy framework. The binding effect is stronger, the higher the expected remuneration components are compared to the current salary and the more strongly they are linked to the employee's own contribution. In addition, tied remuneration benefits (e.g. in the form of a capital participation) have a more binding effect than cash payments.

The importance of staff retention as a core HR function is gaining increasing importance in the course of deregulation and flexibilization on the labor markets and the resulting decline in the psychological obligation of working relationships.