The (Not So) Secrets of High Retention

Feb 26, 2016 | Categories: talent management
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What we can learn from one tech company about hiring, culture

A strong retention rate indicates many things: a thriving culture, strong leadership and an engaged workforce. But what are the secrets to boosting that rate?

Maybe there are no secrets, just hidden truths that many businesses fail to accept.

A recent article in profiled the Silicon Valley-area tech company Location Labs about their 95 percent retention rate – very high in the fast-paced, constantly changing startup world.

Their secrets to keeping employees happy at work aren’t magic though. They’re lessons any business can and should execute. The following themes emerged from the article:

Secret 1: Invest in hiring-
The vitality of a successful company can almost always be traced to the quality of its hiring process. Location Labs seems to recognize this because they place a great deal of emphasis on the job description and interviewing for values, rather than skills.

One way they could strengthen their hiring even more is to benchmark each job. By using a job benchmarking system, companies can identify the key accountabilities for the position, the skills needed for superior performance and the behaviors and driving forces that will be most rewarded by the position.

Secret 2: Look for hidden talent-
Location Labs looks for diamonds in the rough to keep its high retention rate. They do this in the interview process by discussing personal challenges and that individual’s reactions to those challenges.

Finding diamonds in the rough doesn’t always have to happen in the interview stage. This is one of the reasons we advocate for job match – an individual may be an excellent fit for a company but in the wrong role. We’ve see countless examples of individuals moving departments after several years with a company to a job that’s a better fit for their behaviors, driving forces and skills – with great success.

Secret 3: Create a culture that’s like a community-
This one is a no-brainer for maintaining a healthy retention rate considering the average American worker spends more time at work than at home. Company lunches are great, but employees really value things like being rewarded and recognized for their contributions, open communication and work that makes them feel driven each day.

The rules Location Labs follows boil down to common sense, yet so many organizations fail to exercise these retention best practices. Why? They simply aren’t educated in how essential it is to their bottom line to hire the right talent the first time and avoid bad hires.

In the end, the secret to retention is getting it right the first time before you even extend an offer letter. To learn more about the cost of bad hires, and how to hire right the first time, visit


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Jennifer Lawhead

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