For many organizations, a retention plan is focused primarily on employees that have been working within the company for an extended period of time. However, retention really begins with hiring and doesn’t end until the employee’s very last day of work.

Ideally, the plan for employee retention should be initiated during the hiring process. When interviewing candidates, look for those with a genuine interest in the organization.  A hirable candidate will have desire to grow with the company, rather than gain skills and move on. When speaking of the position and company, be up front about what the job really entails and what the office environment and culture is like. Set a vision of what’s possible for the company and for the employee.

Once a fantastic candidate is hired, the next stage of retention is maintaining morale and enhancing daily work life. Encourage team members to share their ideas and opinions, and really listen to them. Give your talent stretch projects, and keep them updated with consistent feedback. Acknowledge each employee for their contributions to the organization to increase motivation and involvement. Go above and beyond by celebrating birthdays and rewarding teams after a job well done.

Utilize “stay interviews” to check in with and retain existing talent. A stay interview is an opportunity to get feedback from an employee about how things are going in their position. This is a great way to build trust with team members and evaluate levels of satisfaction and engagement. Schedule these conversations periodically to answer questions and stay aware of any issues that arise in the staff.

Watch out for signs of information hoarding, blaming others, and indifference. Also notice decreases in collaboration and productivity, and sudden decreases in face-to-face communication. These habits and changes may indicate that an employee has lost passion for his/her work and is ready to look for another job.

Some turnover can be healthy for an organization. Sometimes, employees can develop bad habits, become complacent, resistant to change, or have poor attitudes. This can negatively affect other staff members, and degrades the workplace environment. When this situation arises, it can be difficult to decide whether to retain the employee or invite them to move on. Terminating an employee—especially one with tenure—is never an easy decision, but in certain cases it is the best move to make.

Retaining top talent is a long process that begins with the very first interview. Hiring right, checking in with employees, and recognizing when it is time to invite substandard employees to move on maintain the desired attitudes, ambition, work ethic, and productivity of your company.