Are you retaining your best talent?

7 min | Jessica Smith | Article | Retention

Colleagues talking in an office

The idea of holding a single job for life has become outdated for many employees, who are willing to transition to different positions if their current job doesn’t satisfy their requirements. Consequently, maintaining employee loyalty has emerged as a significant obstacle for today’s employers.

How to improve your staff retention rates and improve your performance reviews.


How to retain your best talent?

In general, employees are more inclined to stay put if they feel you value their talents and are invested in their future. It’s equally important to create a dynamic work environment where challenges are met with encouragement. This approach not only keeps your team motivated but also inspires them to advance with the company.

Learn more about inclusive leadership: Promoting inclusive leadership with diversity | Hays Canada


Let’s talk about retention

The notion of lifelong employment is increasingly irrelevant for most employees, who are open to changing jobs when their expectations aren’t fulfilled. As a result, keeping employees on board is a significant hurdle for employers in the current job market.

Check out these templates for media recognition and engagement template.


Performance reviews: step by step

In the current landscape were attracting and keeping top-notch talent is key, performance evaluations play a pivotal role in employee retention. With thoughtful planning and an optimistic approach, these reviews can be a powerful tool to:

  • Rekindle waning enthusiasm
  • Jumpstart projects that have hit a snag
  • Entrust high-performing team members with greater responsibilities
  • Tackle issues directly
  • Establish goals for what’s next
  • Determine necessary training
  • Understand your team’s interpersonal dynamics better

Despite common misconceptions, a good number of employees actually anticipate their performance evaluations. These sessions offer an opportunity for staff to be acknowledged and potentially rewarded (though salary discussions should be separate), to set career-advancing goals, seek necessary support, and address any concerns they might have.

Get ready

Preparation is essential. Gain insight into the outlook of your employee and ensure time is used efficiently. Have the employee complete a pre-review form and compare answers with previous review notes and assess:

  • Were objectives set and if so met?
  • Were there previous issues; have they been addressed?
  • Were there wants by the employee; have they been realised?

The review

Do not reschedule. Ensure the employee knows this is important to you and the organization. Conduct the meeting first thing to avoid delays from competing demands and allow an hour for the review. Have an agenda and review it at the start of the meeting. Explain the importance of the review and that the purpose is to focus on the employee. Try to follow a logical order, ideally along the lines of your prereview form. The discussion should centre on the following:

  • A review of objectives set at the previous appraisal
  • What objectives were met and is the employee deserving of special praise?
  • What wasn’t met and why?
  • How do they view themselves as part of the team?
  • Do they enjoy their job?
  • How do they assess their own skill areas?
  • Do they have a clear idea of their role and the department’s role?
  • Where do they see themselves developing over the coming six months/year?
  • How are they going to achieve these aims?
  • Are there specific targets which can be realistically met?
  • How will performance be measured?
  • What training needs are required to fulfil these objectives?
  • What other issues would they like to raise?

How to handle confrontation

You may be required to communicate that the employee is failing in a particular aspect of the job. This could be as simple as timekeeping or personal appearance, or more sensitive, such as competence at specific tasks or ability to get on with colleagues. Be prepared to handle the conversation sympathetically:

  • How can your comments be best phrased?
  • Can you at the same time highlight positive points?
  • Are you being constructive in your criticism?
  • Have suggestions as to how these points can be resolved?

The opportunity to ‘raise other issues can result into personal gripes about other members of staff, complaints about office ergonomics, accusations of unfair treatment and grievances about workload or resources. Think on your feet and get to the root of the issue: What prospects are there for personal and professional development?

  • Ask your employee to provide specific examples not generalisations
  • Read between the lines; determine the root of the issue
  • Provide a challenge. Have the employee develop a plan to resolve the problem themselves before you provide suggestions.

Provide a career map

Help your staff build a career map. This can help clarify your employee’s targets for career progression and identify specific areas that require training. Before the review, have your employee complete the following exercise to review in the meeting:

  • Identify existing skills and future potential
  • Identify long-term goals
  • Write out 20 questions needed to answer/complete to achieve the outlined goals
  • Lay out an action plan to achieving these goals
  • Determine smaller objectives that help make the long-term goals more attainable
  • Identify the first steps to achieving the above


It’s essential to make the action points happen and to be seen to be making them happen. If you’ve committed to exploring further training or arranging meetings with other departments, then find out or get these sessions set up as soon as you can. The quickest way to lose valuable staff is to let decisions made at reviews fall by the wayside.

Learn more about performance reviews here: Employee Performance Reviews: A How To Guide | Hays Canada


The performance review for your team

The quickest way to lose valuable staff is to let decisions made at reviews fall by the wayside. Be prepared and download our previous guides:


About this author

Jessica Smith, Senior Vice President, People & Culture, Hays Americas

An accomplished HR executive with a proven track record in overseeing and managing HR operations and talent strategy, Jessica Smith is renowned for her ability to drive efficiencies and bolster employee engagement and satisfaction. With a robust background in developing and implementing a strong, flexible HR infrastructure, Jessica serves as a trusted advisor and business partner to the Executive Leadership Team.

As the SVP for People & Culture at Hays Americas, Jessica continues to set the standard for excellence in human resources, championing innovative strategies that align with the company’s dynamic growth and evolving needs.

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