Employee retention is a critical factor in any organisation’s success. While it is inevitable that a small proportion of a company’s workforce will resign annually, high staff turnover tends to become problematic for businesses, especially for those who rely on highly specialised skills.

Increased recruitment costs, reduced team morale and low employee engagement are just some of the consequences of low employee retention. Frequent resignations can be disruptive to teams, projects, clients, and the company’s bottom line. Retaining your best talent for longer can insulate your organisation from these consequences.

As many professionals renew their career plans after the pandemic, job mobility is once again ascendant in Australia, as highlighted by recent ABS data. With more workers willing to change roles, employers must consider adopting or refining retention strategies, so they don’t lose critical talent to competitors.

What are the most effective approaches to increasing job satisfaction and keeping more of your best team members? In this article, we’ll highlight the most essential elements of an effective employee retention strategy.

Effective Recruitment

All retention strategies start with effective recruitment. New hires must feel the job is the right fit for them and allows them to make the best use of their skills. Many employee retention issues can be traced back to the recruitment process.

Regular recruitment is necessary for growing businesses, but if you are replacing high-value employees too often, the cost can add up quickly. In Australia, replacing a mid-level Manager costs an average of $9,542, although this cost can be significantly higher, ELMO’s Employee HR Benchmarking Survey shows.

In oil & gas, mining, engineering and construction recruitment, it’s essential to prioritise candidates with the right technical skills. However, it’s important to note that a candidate’s attitude and how they fit within the company culture will determine how long they will stay, so it’s critical to evaluate candidates against these metrics as well.

Generous Rewards and Recognition

In talent-short specialities like construction or engineering, there is a persistent risk that employees will seek to join a competitor who is paying more. Compounding this risk is the fact that salary is a consistent factor that motivates people to search for a new job.

Employers who can’t afford to lose a skilled Engineer or Project Manager will stay one step ahead by knowing what the market is paying for similar roles. Providing regular salary reviews and pay rises to good performers demonstrates a commitment to rewarding your teams fairly.

If your company’s budget for base salaries is constrained, including non-salary perks such as additional holiday leave, a commuting allowance, or covering childcare costs, is another way to demonstrate that employees are valued. Performance bonuses, employee share purchase plans and other incentives can make employees feel more invested in the business.

Recognition of employees’ efforts is also integral to employee retention strategies. This can involve informal practices, like giving employees a pat on the back for a job well done, and formal programs like company awards. Using a combination of both is a fantastic way to honour hard work and boost morale.

Career Development

Engineers and other professionals with specialist skill sets are less likely to persevere in a role if they don’t see their careers progressing.

More than half (51.7%) of engineers in Australia say that professional development opportunities were the reason they quit their previous employer, according to a recent survey by The Association of Professional Engineers Australia.

To shape effective career development policies, think about the employee’s perspective – how will they learn and grow professionally in their role? Can they get promoted when they’ve proven their abilities? How can new projects or responsibilities challenge them, and how can the company facilitate these?

Structured training, coaching or mentoring programs are also helpful vehicles for career progression. For senior professionals, access to volunteering programs can help them give back to their profession and community, which can increase their fulfilment.

Healthy Work-Life Balance

It’s no secret that a growing number of Australian workers crave a balance between their work and personal life. As research by Gartner has highlighted, work-life balance is one of the top five factors that drive Australian workers to leave or join a company, making it a core consideration for retention strategies.

In practice, work-life balance policies might include flexible start and end times, remote or hybrid working, job sharing, compressed working hours, options to purchase additional leave, as some examples.

Consider what tacit expectations for employees are and whether these support a healthy work life balance. Are Managers sending emails at 10 pm or seldom taking leave? If an employee’s expectations of flexibility clash with the organisational culture, this could sow enough discontent to spur a resignation.

High Transparency

A culture of transparency is key for engendering trust in an organisation, and when employees trust their teams and Managers more, they’re more likely to be loyal.

If screen time is becoming more frequent than face time in an organisation, transparency can sometimes weaken simply because interactions with employees have changed. Hybrid or full remote work environments require a higher tempo of communication and keeping everyone in the loop, to ensure employees don’t feel neglected or kept in the dark.

Managers can cultivate transparency by encouraging colleagues to ask questions, giving regular updates in meetings and newsletters, and having an open-door policy where appropriate. When giving feedback to colleagues, also ask them for advice on how you can improve.


Retention strategies will vary according to an organisation’s industry, size, culture, and management structure – among other factors. In most cases, however, the fundamentals of retaining employees are the same: effective rewards, recognition, and shared values.

When employees can see they are valued members of the organisation and essential to its success, they will not only make more of a discretionary effort, but they will also be more willing to stay with their employer for the long haul.

A dynamic jobs market in Australia means employers need to stay multiple steps ahead in the war for talent. Partnering with an oil & gas, engineering and construction recruitment specialist that intrinsically knows your industry will give your company the edge in recruiting and retaining the right employees. Contact us today to connect with the best talent in your industry.