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The importance of retention for the AOD field

Retention is a key issue for the AOD workforce. It serves a range of important purposes including ensuring:

  • An available pool of mentors and supervisors exists
  • The organisation receives a return-on-investment for formal and informal training of workers
  • The development of cohesive work groups and teams
  • A highly skilled and effective workforce.

Factors that affect turnover/retention

Although a range of factors may influence a worker's decision to leave three key issues have been identified:

  1. Inadequate salary and remuneration
  2. Lack of career development opportunities
  3. Work-related demands and stress.

Turnover costs

Turnover can be costly, particularly when it involves the unplanned loss of workers who leave voluntarily and whom employers would prefer to keep. In addition to the direct costs of recruiting a replacement, indirect costs of turnover include:

  • Lost productivity 
  • Decreased worker morale
  • Increased stress
  • Reduced quality and availability of services.

Note - reducing turnover is not necessarily an optimal outcome. Workers who choose to remain in their jobs but are disaffected and do their job poorly can be just as costly to productivity as having high staff turnover.

Strategies to retain effective workers

Eight strategies that have received strong support in the research literature are:

  1. Maintain good supervisor-worker relationships which allow for open communication 
  2. Provide professional development opportunities to give workers the chance to develop their knowledge, skills and abilities
  3. Provide challenging and varied work to employees
  4. Ensure adequate clinical supervision
  5. Offer rewards and recognition for good work
  6. Support workers' capacity to balance work and family life
  7. Provide new or potential workers with realistic work expectations in regard to, for example:
    • Promotion opportunities
    • Professional development opportunities
    • Career mobility
  8. Conduct exit interviews to identify organisational issues or problems.

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