Retention management / Retention policy

Retention management or retention policy is a company policy that is aimed at retaining staff in an organization, or at retaining existing customers. Retention management strives to expand the relationship with the staff or with the customer relations in such a way that they feel connected to the company and are less inclined to work or buy elsewhere.


Voluntary staff turnover within companies has increased in recent years. Different factors play a role here. Important is the evolution of a family with the man as the breadwinner to two-income. As a result, in addition to financial and job security, other work-related elements were important: alignment with private life, freedom, possibilities for self-development and promotion. Employees have generally become more demanding, partly due to the increase in the number of jobs available.

Large companies in particular are aware of the evolutions and the increasing shortage on the labor market, but many companies still attach relatively little importance to retention policy and therefore do not take many specific measures.


Employees can be distinguished into three groups in terms of their business continuity:

  • people who often apply,
  • people who sometimes look around and occasionally apply for a job,
  • people who never apply elsewhere.

The three groups ask for other measures to be able to bind them to the organization.

  • The group that makes a lot of applications and changes jobs is limited: only 5% of the employees are concerned and this mainly concerns young people and employees without children. This group usually applies frequently because of the wages. A higher wage than the most obvious measure. For others among them and for people who sometimes doubt, promotion opportunities and career opportunities are important.
  • For people who sometimes apply for jobs, a feasible workload and job security are also important. Reducing work pressure, job security and growth opportunities are basic elements in a retention policy.
  • For employees who are very company-loyal and never apply, the possibility of autonomy and creativity in the job and development opportunities is important. Autonomy is provided by less direct control and giving more decision-making powers, creativity is addressed by giving challenging tasks, development opportunities are finally provided by training opportunities and variation in the range of tasks.

Finally, relational aspects are important: identification with the company and an open company culture.

Specific groups of employees

Retention management receives increasing attention in various companies with a view to maintaining expert and loyal employees. Specific measures for specific groups are described.


The aging of the population means that a large outflow of employees is expected in the coming years. Retention measures aimed at older employees therefore become important. However, many companies do not yet take any measures for this, because the consequences of the aging population are not yet tangible and the vacancies are filled in quickly enough.

If measures are taken, they consist primarily of the use of statutory provisions such as partial career interruption. In addition, work is being done on flexible working hours, reducing workload, offering specific training courses and engaging older employees as a mentor for newer colleagues.

Healthcare sector

The healthcare sector has a growing need for health personnel. Retaining staff is therefore important. The need for this is mainly addressed to nurses and carers.

Within the healthcare sector, the group of head nurses still requires specific attention. Vacancies do not regularly fill in, which necessitates measures to retain head nurses in their job.

Immigrant police officers

It is important for the police to employ immigrant employees. Research shows that the outflow of ethnic minority employees is higher than that of native people and that retention measures can be useful here. Measures already start with a good induction process and coaching at the start. The salary also plays a major role, but equally the leadership style and organizational culture must be viewed critically because human relationships play a major role in bonding. The appointment of a confidential counselor can help. Finally, offering promotion opportunities is important.

Customer retention

The term ‘retention management’ can also relate to a number of marketing techniques that are aimed at retaining customers. They try to satisfy existing customers and keep them involved with the company and a or products. Various organizations use special marketing tools to retain their own customers; an example of this are savings cards or cards from a supermarket or savings stamps from a gas station.

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