Retention Strategies a “Must” During a COVID-19

Crises like the COVID-19 global pandemic, or other natural or man-made disasters such as cyber-attacks, earthquakes, workplace violence, hurricanes, massive embezzlement, and raging wildfires force employers to play their retention “A” game.

Crises hit employees hard, producing high levels of uncertainty, strain, negative morale, homelife and financial problems, and workplace disruption. A crisis can make or break an organization. The critical factor: leadership. It takes leadership to keep an employee team positive, resilient, and forward-thinking when the employees’ personal and professional lives teeter on the edge.

This post was written in response to a blog reader who asked for additional pandemic specific tactics after reading

During crises, leaders need to:

  • Work with their employees to take ownership of the disruption, creating a team that rallies behind the leader to “beat the chaos.”
  • Ask employees for their ideas to fully engage them in handling the crisis.
  • Authentically empathize with your employees. Communicate that you know things are tough, but “we’re in this together.”
  • Ensure your employees know their safety and health is your number one priority.
  • Let your employees know you’re there to support them, can offer flexibility if they need it, and intend to get them the resources they need to succeed in their jobs.

Here’s why retention of your essential team members is so important, even if financial hardship led you to earlier furlough or lay off employees

Unwanted turnover costs. Multiple researchers estimate that losing an employee costs an employer one and a half to two times the employee’s salary. This financial burden includes the time and expenses involved in recruiting, onboarding, and training a new hire.

The employer also loses institutional knowledge and productivity as it takes six to twelve months or longer for new hire to come up to speed.  Crucial projects often halted or restart from the beginning as other employees pick up the slack. Morale takes a hit when a well-liked, well-respected employee departs, and a hole opens in the team dynamic.

The employee’s former coworkers begin to wonder if they should look around as well. The departing employee may tell those he or she has left behind how exciting his/her new position/organization is, or even solicit them to join his/her new company.

Don’t let COVID-19 break apart your team or organization.

Note: please free to write me as another blog reader did, when have a topic you’d like me to address. Also, I welcome your comments & thoughts.

© 2020, Lynne Curry

Lynne Curry, Ph.D., SPHR, is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016, and “Solutions”, (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Send your questions to her at or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.

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