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To Win the Hiring War, Focus on Employee Retention Blog Feature

By: GreatAmerica on January 4th, 2023

To Win the Hiring War, Focus on Employee Retention

Updated 1/4/23. Originally published 4/6/21

Finding the right person to join your team can be a challenge. Surprisingly, the real battle may be retaining that talent once you find it. Add a global pandemic, inventory shortages, and soaring gas prices into the mix, and things get even more complicated. Some employees are leaving their organizations and seeking jobs that are either remote or closer to home to cut back on gas spending. Commission-based roles are driven to leave organizations struggling with inventory shortages for those that have closer ties to manufacturers, and therefore have equipment to sell.  

Additionally, more employees are working from home and that means there is less personal interaction with coworkers, managers, and company leadership. All these scenarios and more are creating challenges when it comes to retaining top talent.  

Shortly after the pandemic, the great resignation began. The Society of Human Resource Management shares, “Last year, 47.8 million workers quit their jobs, an average of nearly 4 million each month, meaning 2021 holds the highest average on record, topping the 2019 average of 3.5 million.” So, how can companies create an environment that the workforce wants to be a part of? 

The fact of the matter is employees stay with organizations because they have built an attachment or positive connection to the organization. So, it’s important to find ways to nurture this connection to retain the talent you worked so hard to hire. Read on for a few considerations. 

Start Building the Connection before Day 1 

Proactively manage the time between offer acceptance and day one working for your company by filling this critical transition time with messages that helps them build attachment to your team and begins to loosen the bond with their old team. Some ways to do this might include: 

  • Reach out to them on the day they plan to give notice to let them know you’re looking forward to them joining your team. 
  • Send them a handwritten welcome note signed by their new teammates. 
  • Have their new team make a fun welcome video so the candidate can start putting names and faces together prior to arrival. 

Make the Most of Time Spent Onboarding 

Onboarding can and should be much more than training the new hire in process and procedures. Be sure to include planned opportunities for conversations to build connections: 

  • To your culture—share stories that demonstrate your culture in the day-to-day activities of the team. 
  • To their career development – talk about their career aspirations. Begin to build the basis for career mapping that can be further developed during upcoming performance evaluations. 
  • To their feedback—let them know their feedback matters. Include polls and surveys as part of the onboarding to gather their thoughts on what went well and what suggestions they may have for improvement. Acting on their feedback helps them see that their feedback matters. 

Work to Retain the Talent You Have 

With today’s difficult hiring environment, you may find yourself spending considerable time talking to candidates and marketing your opportunities to them. Now more than ever it’s equally important to spend some time having conversations with existing employees. Stay interviews are a wonderful tool to get specific feedback at regular intervals but they cannot replace the day-in, day-out routine conversations with your employees. Remember, they’re reading your online job ads, they see you interviewing, they are welcoming new co-workers and being asked to train and mentor them. Do you know how they feel about this? Do they have questions? Have they heard rumors of higher salaries? Are they getting recruited by other companies? Just because they haven’t said anything, doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about these things. Some thoughts might be: 

  • Schedule weekly one-on-one meetings. While the focus may be operational in nature, be sure to ask questions such as “How are you doing? Do you have questions or are there things you’re wondering about that I can try to answer?” 
  • Ask for their input. Include them in your recruiting efforts. For instance, you may share, “We are working to add to our team. We want to attract people like you who are a good fit and do a good job for us. May I ask, what attracted you to the opportunity with us?” 
  • Consider benefits focused on tenure. What can you give your existing team to reward them for their service to and tenure with the organization? Maybe it’s an extra day off based on years served or service awards/gifts. Capitalize on this further by including these benefits in your recruiting efforts to let new hires know there are benefits to staying with your company and making this their career home. 

We asked our own Denise Miller, Senior Human Resources Consultant of the GreatAmerica PathShare HR Services division, for her advice on retaining top performers, "I recently read some data from Method Research, which surveyed over 2,000 US adults. The data showed 62% of respondents valued supportive work environments and 59% of respondents indicated growth opportunities promoted loyalty and a positive view of their employer. To me, this indicates managers can earn loyalty by helping employees succeed. This can start with your managers; focus on ways to help the managers within your organization create a supportive work environment for their direct reports. Lead by example and provide the training and coaching they need to be good managers. Next, look for ways to invest in your employees’ development and success,” Denise continued, "One way to earn employee loyalty is to provide learning, development and growth opportunities. In fact, recent research from the Microsoft Work Trend Index Special Report revealed seventy-six percent of employees say they’d stay longer at a company if they could benefit from learning and development support."

Regularly Conduct Stay Interviews 

At GreatAmerica, we’ve implemented Stay Interviews to enhance our retention efforts and provide another layer of defense amidst The Great Resignation. A stay interview is a purposeful conversation to find out what is important to the employee and how your organization can engage and motivate them. It’s not another meeting or an informal chat in the breakroom. It’s not part of the performance appraisal process. It is a planned conversation to find out why they work for you, what drives them to come to work each day, what motivates them to build a career with you and even what may cause them to leave.  

Begin stay interviews early in an employee’s tenure to avoid costly turnover. The Society of Human Resource Management shares, “Each employee departure costs about one-third of that worker's annual earnings, including expenses such as recruiter fees, temporary replacement workers and lost productivity.” Don’t let first-year turnover continue to plague your organizations. 

The ideal time to begin stay interviews with new hires varies by organization. Think about the people you’ve lost in the first year. When did they leave? If, on average they leave within six months, do your first stay interview about 30-45 days before that. 

What are the benefits of a stay interview?  

  • Builds trust and increases communication 
  • Continues to build a connection 
  • Shows employees you care about their thoughts and feelings 
  • Gives you good insight and information to make positive changes within your organization 

To learn more about the benefits of stay interviews, visit our website! 

What Perspective can GreatAmerica Share After Using Stay Interviews? 

After implementing Stay Interviews within several functions at GreatAmerica, leaders reported the experience to be a valuable investment of time, as their team members began opening up to them on a deeper level than before. As a result, team members feel safer, feel heard and more comfortable sharing honest feedback, enhancing our environment of trust. Through these Stay Interviews we have begun to uncover themes, specifically empowerment and the need to be part of decision making. Because of this direct feedback, we are actively working to address these areas, both at an individual team member level and at a broader functional level and are excited to see what outcomes occur in the long term as a result. 

Ultimately, our leaders felt they knew their team members on a more personal level since implementing stay interviews, nurturing stronger connections and strengthening trust. Because of this initial success, we plan to incorporate the Stay Interview into our long-term functional retention strategy. On our next round, we would like to evolve the questions to uncover other untapped areas, and really focus on what keeps our people here so we can target our efforts to enhance those things about the organization.  

All in all, we found our people love this organization, and they want to be here. We also learned they are more open than ever about their need to feel valued, appreciated and enriched by their careers and are looking to the organization to support this. 

Related: The GreatAmerica Ops Review: How Transparency Shapes Our Culture

In Summary: 

Focus on retention as soon as a candidate accepts an offer, then build in onboarding activities, and ongoing stay interviews to retain the talent you have and avoid the hiring/turnover treadmill.

Did you Know GreatAmerica has a HR Consulting Offering? 

It may seem like a stretch from financing to HR, but our PathShare® HR Services offering grew out of listening to our customers. The PathShare team offers consulting and courses to address pain points from organizational structure and culture to recruiting and retaining the right talent for your business. Learn more about hiring and retaining top talent by visiting the PathShare HR Services website.

Learn About PathShare HR Services 



GreatAmerica is the largest independent, family-owned national commercial equipment finance company in the U.S. and is dedicated to helping manufacturers, vendors, and dealers be more successful and keep their customers for a lifetime. GreatAmerica was established in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1992 and now has offices in Iowa, Georgia, Minnesota, and Illinois. In addition to financing, GreatAmerica offers innovative non-financial services to help our customers grow.