Surviving the game of retention: What pop culture can teach us about employee retention

Picture this: You have spent several months, maybe even years, carefully selecting and training the perfect employee. They’re the Sheldon to your Big Bang, the Chandler to your Friends or the Amy to your Brooklyn 999. And then, just as they start to hit their stride, they’re gone. Poof, vanished like Arya Stark. That’s right, employee turnover is the Thanos of the business world, threatening to ‘snap’ your carefully crafted team into dust.

Sadly, this is a problem that’s becoming common in Australia. In the year ending February last year, a whopping 1.3 million Aussies changed jobs, which is about 10% of employed people in the country. That’s the highest job mobility rate since 2012, and it’s a trend that’s showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, 58% of employers experienced an increase in staff turnover last financial year, and a third believe this will accelerate in the coming year.

How to improve employee retention

So, what can you do to stop your star players from jumping ship faster than Usain Bolt can run the 100m at the 2009 World Championships (9.58 seconds to be exact)? The good news is that there are some strategies you can implement to improve employee retention.

Understand your employee demographics

And no, you don’t need to build a giant wall like the one Wanda Maximoff created to keep your employees in. First, it’s important to understand that different generations have varying priorities and values when it comes to the workplace. For example, Gen Z places a high value on work-life balance, while Gen X and Baby Boomers prioritise working alongside enjoyable co-workers. So, it’s crucial to tailor your strategies to the specific needs of your employees.

For Gen Z, which might mean offering flexible working arrangements or additional leave entitlements to help them achieve a better work-life balance. For Gen X and Baby Boomers, it could mean investing in team-building activities or social events to foster positive relationships between co-workers. You know, like Michael Scott tries to do.

Build robust workplace culture

Another key factor that influences employee retention is workplace culture. Just like the North remembers, your employees will remember the way they were treated and the culture of your workplace. If your office feels like the Red Keep and your employees feel like they’re constantly battling for power, they’re not going to stick around for long.

And we don’t want a Red Wedding scenario on our hands, do we? To improve workplace culture, start by focusing on the little things. Offer incentives like free coffee or snacks or create a comfortable break room where employees can relax. You could even take a page out of the Friends playbook and install a foosball table or start a weekly trivia competition.

But not like when Monica, Rachel, Chandler, and Joey played the trivia game for the apartment – hopefully a bit tamer than that. But it’s not just about the fun and games.

To truly create a positive workplace culture, it’s important to foster an environment of open communication and feedback. Encourage your employees to share their ideas and concerns and be open to constructive criticism. By creating a culture of mutual respect and collaboration, you’ll build a team that’s motivated to stay and grow together.

Career development and growth

Another important factor to consider is career development and growth opportunities. Just like Jon Snow needed to find his place in the world beyond the Wall, your employees need to know that they have a future within your organisation. If they feel like they’re stuck in a dead-end job with no room for growth or advancement, they’re more likely to jump ship.

So, invest in training and development programs that help your employees acquire new skills and knowledge. Create clear career pathways and provide opportunities for promotion and advancement. By showing your employees that you’re invested in their development, you’ll create a sense of loyalty and commitment that will keep them around for the long haul.

Employer branding

Finally, it’s important to remember that retention isn’t just about keeping your employees from leaving. It’s also about attracting and recruiting the right people in the first place.

To do this, you need to focus on employer branding and creating a positive reputation for your organisation. Just like Daenerys Targaryen needed to build her army and win the loyalty of her followers, you need to build your employer brand and win over potential employees. Just don’t unleash Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion (the dragons for those non-GOT fans).

At Brooks Australia we start by highlighting the unique aspects of your workplace culture and the opportunities for growth and development. Additionally, use social media and other marketing channels to highlight the positive experiences of your current employees and create a buzz around your organisation. By building a strong employer brand, you will attract top talent and create a team that’s motivated to stay and grow with your organisation.

Closing thoughts

Finally, it’s important to remember that employee retention is an ongoing process. It’s not enough to implement these strategies once and then forget about them. You need to continuously listen to your employees, adapt to their changing needs and priorities, and provide ongoing support and resources to help them thrive to boost your retention.

In Friends, the characters were always there for each other through thick and thin, offering support and guidance as they navigated the ups and downs of life. Your employees need that same kind of support and guidance, whether it’s through mentorship programs, regular check-ins with their managers, or opportunities for ongoing professional development.

By staying attuned to their needs, you’ll be able to create a workplace culture that’s flexible, supportive, and focused on growth and development. And with a team that’s engaged and motivated, you’ll be able to achieve great things together and build a thriving organisation.

So, if you’re ready to up your game in employee retention, focus on the needs and priorities of your employees, create a positive workplace culture, invest in career development and growth, and build a strong employer brand. And with a little bit of dedication, you’ll create a team that’s loyal, motivated, and ready to take on whatever challenges come their way.

Mandy Oliver is the Financial Controller and HR Manager at Brooks Australia. Mandy is an accomplished professional with over two decades of experience at Brooks.
Throughout her tenure, Mandy has taken on a diverse set of roles and responsibilities,
showcasing her multitasking abilities and her dedication to the team. Mandy’s contributions to Brooks have been invaluable, and she is highly respected within the organisation.

Mandy Oliver, Financial Controller and HR Manager at Brooks Australia