Use 15Five to decrease regrettable turnover

As your organization embarks on its journey with 15Five, it's important to identify which of 15Five's three HR outcomes you want to initially focus on driving using the platform: maximize employee performance, increase employee engagement, or decrease regrettable turnover. In this article, we will walk through the basics of employee retention and how to use 15Five to reduce regrettable turnover within your organization.

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What is regrettable turnover?

Regrettable turnover occurs when somebody's departure from the company has a negative impact on the organization, or when a high-performing employee that the company would have liked to keep decides to leave of their own accord. These are usually high-performing or high-potential individuals whose loss can have a significant impact on team dynamics, productivity, and business outcomes.

For more information about regrettable turnover, check out the sections below:

Define criteria for what constitutes regrettable turnover

Regrettable turnover data can include: 1) A high-performing employee whose compensation level is not aligned with their role and impact, who decides to leave because the company decides the company cannot/will not increase their compensation, and 2) Employees who leave unexpectedly whose departure is seen as a significant loss to the organization.

Some criteria to consider when determining if an employee’s departure is a significant loss to the company include:

  • Current performance level (above level, at level, below level)
  • Cost to replace
  • Culture and values fit
  • Ramp time for replacement
  • Hard-to-replace skills
  • Irreplaceable knowledge
  • Single point of failure

To operationalize the designation of regrettable vs. non-regrettable departures, managers should document their own opinion on the designation, but the final decision should be made by the people operations/HR team. This data can be captured whenever an employee departs and reported on regularly.

Symptoms of high regrettable turnover

If regrettable turnover is an issue within your organization, you may notice the following things happening:

  • Quiet Quitting/Morale Issues: Employees mentally disengage, showing reduced enthusiasm or proactive contributions due to feelings like being undervalued or burnt out.

  • Surprise 2-week Notices: Unexpected resignations from seemingly satisfied or key employees, indicating potential underlying issues or discomfort in discussing grievances.

  • Repeated Low Engagement Scores: Consistently low or declining scores in employee engagement surveys hint at systemic organizational problems.

  • Anonymous Feedback to HR: Feedback given anonymously suggests fear of retaliation or a lack of trust in open communication channels.

  • Confusion around Expectations/Lack of Role Clarity: Regular confusion about roles and responsibilities, leading to frustration and reduced efficiency.

  • Complaints about Leadership or Direction: Frequent concerns expressed about the leadership team, strategic decisions, or the company's overall direction.

If you find your organization is struggling with these things, you may want to focus on decreasing regrettable turnover as your main outcome with 15Five.

Why decreasing regrettable turnover is important

For organizations that are striving to be a high-performing environment where employees thrive, focusing on the problem of regrettable turnover is key. Paying attention to regrettable turnover means paying attention to why the high performers in your organization are unsatisfied. If you take steps to solve those problems, all employees will benefit, and the organization as a whole will realize the positive impacts.

High turnover can have a huge impact on teams by:

  • Requiring HR teams and managers to devote more time and resources to onboarding new employees;
  • Placing added responsibilities on the teammates of departed employees, potentially elevating their workload and risk of burnout; and
  • Overwhelming the talent acquisition function, which can increase the likelihood of hiring employees who aren’t a good fit for the role/organization— only contributing to the vicious cycle of turnover.

Replacing employees is also expensiveespecially when they're high-performing employees. According to SHRM, the cost of replacing an employee can range from 50% to 200% of their annual salary. And, the Employers Council estimates that number can increase to 400% of a high-level or highly specialized employee's annual salary.


Beyond cost savings, reducing regrettable turnover also leads to greatly improved succession planning, as key talent is retained within the organization. This ensures that there is a good pool of potential candidates from within the organization when leadership roles become available, and reduces the need to expend additional resources on external recruiting, training, and onboarding. 

How regrettable turnover relates to other outcomes

Engagement Performance Manager effectiveness

Decrease regrettable turnover with 15Five



Before we begin, it's important to note that the feature benefits listed below are not guaranteed. The benefits you get out of 15Five are correlated to how successfully a feature is rolled out, as well as the effort and buy-in of your team. With the right plan, your team can leverage the features below to drive change and help you reach your outcome.

To decrease regrettable turnover with 15Five, we recommend utilizing one of the following action recipes. An action recipe is a combination of 15Five features that, when combined, can pave the way for increased retention within your organization.


How these features impact retention

Self-development OKR

15Five's Objectives feature provides a framework for setting, tracking, and aligning goals, enhancing clarity and focus towards achieving desired outcomes. OKRs stands for Objectives and Key Results, and is a framework for defining and tracking business objectives and outcomes. A "self-development" OKR is a goal focused on a specific area of development. Focusing on development shows that someone matters to your organization and its future. It also helps your managers provide coaching and feedback on a specific growth area.


How self-development objectives reduce turnover

  • 63% of employees say they'd be more likely to stay at their organization if they were provided better career advancement opportunities. Crafting self-development OKRs give managers the opportunity to work with their direct reports to develop the skills they need to reach their career aspirations and grow inside your company.
  • A top reason that employees leave organizations is that they lack a sense of belonging at work. By tying self-development objectives to company-wide initiatives, you create a "positive sum game" in which both the employee and the organization benefit. The employee has the opportunity to develop their skills and advance in their career, as well as recognize how their work ties to the organization's success. Simultaneously, the company gains from having a more skilled, adaptable, and innovative workforce that drives its initiatives forward.
  • 33% of professionals planning on looking for a new job cited boredom and the need for new challenges as their top reason for leaving. Giving employees the opportunity to challenge themselves can provide the continuous growth and variety that professionals seek.

Successfully co-create a self-development OKR

This section walks through best practices for managers as they co-create a self-development OKR with their direct report(s).

  • Let your team member lead the conversation. People buy into goals more when they co-create them.
  • Choose something that the organization needs, but the team member is excited to learn. Identify areas where the company has requirements or gaps, and then align these with subjects or skills the team member is genuinely excited about or interested in.
  • Start with the objective. Ask the individual, "What do you want to accomplish in this timeframe, and why?"
  • Explore key results. Identify the specific, measurable, and actionable outcomes associated with the objective. Just because it’s a self-development OKR doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be specific.
  • Double-check that it resonates. Once you've crafted an OKR, ask the individual: "Does this resonate with you? Is there anything you would like to adjust? Does this feel challenging, yet achievable and even enjoyable?"
  • Refine and repeat the double-check. Document the OKR in 15Five, and continue to discuss progress in weekly 1-on-1s.
  • Recognize, Explore, and Redirect as Necessary: Regularly acknowledge and celebrate the milestones and achievements the team member reaches in their OKR journey. When obstacles or difficulties arise, collaborate to identify their root causes and brainstorm potential solutions. And, if the team member veers off track or if organizational priorities shift, offer guidance to realign their efforts with the intended objectives.



Data from a survey on employee career preferences shows that just one in four employees is confident about their career at their organization, and three out of four people looking for a new role are interested in external positions (Gartner). With this in mind, ask your direct reports to consider what skills they want to develop to help them reach their career aspirations as you're crafting self-development OKRs— even if it's in a direction that will take them off your team. Co-founders of Amazing If, a company with an ambition to make career better for everyone, stated in a Harvard Business Review article that "A manager’s role in supporting someone’s career must expand to support people to explore opportunities beyond the boundaries of their existing team." They go on to say, "By keeping the “best” people on [your] team, [you may] achieve the best outcomes— [but] this is often to the detriment of individuals’ career development and the organization’s ability to access its own talent. The unfortunate outcome is that the people managers most want to retain feel constrained and become more likely to leave.”

Examples of self-development OKRs

Software Engineer:




Additional resources

Weekly 1-on-1s

15Five's 1-on-1s feature is designed to help you get the most out of your meetings. Using our guided structure, it’s easier to focus on priorities, challenges, and progress so everyone’s aligned, motivated, and engaged.


1-on-1s are weekly 30-45 minute conversations that are held between a manager and direct report. Effective 1-on-1s include relationship building, dialogue about goal progress and growth, feedback that includes appreciation and redirection, and agreements about who will do what by when.

How 1-on-1s impact retention

  1. 36% of participants in a survey conducted by ADP Research Institute cited a poor relationship with their direct manager as their number one reason for leaving an organization.
  2. 1-on-1s provide a dedicated space for employees to voice concerns, share ideas, and discuss challenges. When employees feel heard and understood, they're more likely to stay committed to the organization.
  3. Instead of waiting for exit interviews to understand why an employee left, 1-on-1s provide a proactive and continuous platform for managers to address potential retention issues before they escalate.

How to hold a great 1-on-1

  • Be present. Let the other person know you will be taking notes. Don’t multitask: it’s obvious when you’re reading another email or message.
  • Honor your agreements to support your team’s performance and engagement, as well as build trust.
  • Be consistent. A consistent structure is the foundation of an effective 1-on-1. We recommend that managers use the following structure for the conversation:
    • Relationship building: Make time for connection. Ask a genuine, "How are you?” and "What’s top of mind for you?"
    • Goal progress: Check in about the progression of OKRs and goals. Ask, "What’s going well?" "Are you facing blockers, such as any input or decisions you need from me?" "How can I best support you right now?"
    • Feedback: Share recognition regarding wins and progress. As needed, share redirection and help your direct report prioritize what's most important.
    • Agreements: Agree on what action items should be completed before the next 1-on-1. Action items can be assigned to either 1-on-1 participant using 15Five's 1-on-1 agenda.

Additional resources


15Five Check-ins replace status reports with quick employee feedback through a few questions, taking 15 minutes to fill and 5 minutes for managers to review.


Check-ins help keep people focused on what matters most by prompting them to regularly update priorities, share goal statuses, celebrate wins, and discuss challenges. They're also a great tool to help managers understand how to best support people and progress by enabling more frequent and continuous feedback and coaching.



Check-ins and 1-on-1s should be used in combination on a weekly basis. Check-ins are often due on Fridays, with managers providing feedback on check-ins on Mondays and having 1-on-1s on Tuesdays.

How Check-ins impact retention

The anatomy of a Check-in

By default, Check-ins contain the following sections. Whether or not these sections appear and how often they appear can be adjusted on a company-wide, group, or individual level.

  • Pulse: In each Check-in, the Pulse question asks employees, “How did you feel at work
    this week?” on a 1-5 scale.
  • Objective updates: Employees are asked to update their objective and key result progress in each Check-in. This practice is intended to keep employees connected to their long-term priorities and allow managers to support their team members.
  • Priorities: The "Priorities" section of Check-ins allows employees to set and track their priorities over time, providing visibility into progress and helping managers to identify areas where they can provide support.

  • Customizable questions: Organizations can add tailored individual, group, or company-wide questions to Check-ins to suit their unique needs and culture, ensuring that conversations are relevant and meaningful. 

  • Give a High Five: The "High Fives" section of Check-ins allows employees to provide instant peer recognition, improving team communication while boosting morale. Managers can also give high fives as they review their direct reports' Check-ins.



Managers should review Check-ins prior to 1-on-1 meetings. When you review check-in responses, add items to your 1-on-1 agendas (remember you can add private items), comment, react, and give high fives.

Stay interviews

Stay interviews are interviews with current employees that help you create insights about engagement and retention. Understanding what motivates and demotivates your top performers is essential for engaging and retaining them.

In 15Five, managers or HR leaders can conduct and document stay interviews using our 1-on-1s feature— simply add the stay interview questions as talking points on your 1-on-1 agenda and set aside time to discuss with the employee. Any takeaway action items can be assigned to the leader holding the interview.


How stay interviews impact retention

  • Stay interviews allow organizations to identify and act on potential reasons for turnover before they become a problem. Likewise, they help identify what is going well, so leaders can continue investing in those areas.

  • According to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), stay interviews help increase employee retention rates.

  • Kate Grimaldi, senior director of enterprise talent strategy at Paylocity, said of stay interviews, "When a manager takes time to sit with an employee, truly listen to their values and priorities, and then show a commitment to act on the employee's needs, the reaction is always positive. They can defuse the employee's thoughts that, 'If I leave today, no one would care,' and get everyone working together again. Exit interviews are more for the employer, but stay interviews benefit both sides."

Conduct an effective stay interview

  • Stay interviews should be 80% listening and learning. A structured set of questions enables managers to gather the right information in a way that’s focused and actionable:
    • What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?
    • Do you feel recognized and valued?
    • When was the last time you thought about leaving? What prompted you to consider leaving?
    • What can we do to make your job better for you?
    • Anything else you would like to add?
  • Set the stage.“Hey McKayla, I’d like to hear how it’s going for you at [org name], so I can do my best to support you as your manager. I’m here to listen and learn during this meeting. We won’t try to solve any challenges that you surface today. I appreciate your candor and feedback. I have a short list of questions to go through with you. Okay if we get started?”
  • Be fully present. Don’t multitask during the meeting. It’s obvious when you are reading an email or message.
  • Be curious. Even if you hear observations and feedback that are challenging to hear, ask to learn more. Don’t attempt to solve problems in the meeting.
  • Take your time. Allow people space to elaborate. Use silence and sounds of agreement (e.g. mmm mmm) to encourage additional sharing.

Additional resources

Other notable features to decrease regrettable turnover

  • Measure energizing work and enable career growth with Career Hub
  • Gather actionable insights on how employees feel at work with Engagement
  • Celebrate wins and recognize employees with High Fives
  • Foster strong manager/employee relationships with Best-Self Kickoff

Use 15Five's HR Outcomes Dashboard to track employee turnover

The HR Outcomes Dashboard provides a reliable way for HR executives to consistently capture, synthesize, and present the outcomes they are measuring and working to improve: manager effectiveness, employee engagement, employee performance, and regrettable turnover. This allows HR leaders to show clear and concise data that directly links programs like employee learning and development to outcomes like employee retention, which can, in turn, be connected to business outcomes like customer satisfaction and revenue. The HR Outcomes Dashboard is available in 15Five's Total Platform plan.

Additional resources for employee retention

Webinars 🧑‍💻
  • Optimizing the Recruitment Process to Retain Employees (58 min): Retention is impacted by ALL stages of the employee lifecycle, starting with attraction and recruitment. Does your organization truly hire diversely and inclusively? Do recruiters understand top business needs to evaluate the right candidates? Week 1 of this Employee Retention webinar series will explore best practices to invest in talent and boost retention rates for the future.
  • Retaining Culture and Psychological Safety During Transitions (60 min): How do you and your organization handle change? From rebrands and leadership shifts to mergers and acquisitions, all transitions require strategic internal realignment. While many transition plans solely consider assets and processes, this webinar focuses on the retention of culture and psychological safety for employees. Join 15Five’s Jennie Yang and Adam Weber in a fireside chat to discover why transition is more than just about redefining an organization’s position in the marketplace. Ensuring your employees feel included, valued, and heard will provide a long-term advantage and strengthen loyalty and engagement.
  • Retention Through Recognition: Feedback, Growth, and the Rise of Self (58 min): How do you keep employees learning and not leaving? Week 2 of this Employee Retention webinar series will flip the ignition switch on individual employee growth and the rise of self. We will discuss the psychological impacts of recognition, learning, growth, and cross-cultural communication to create strong, inclusive environments that keep people engaged. 
  • Understanding Workplace Trauma and Employee Well-Being (62 min): Organizational behavior frameworks like psychological safety are often thought of in isolation but never in relation to organizational realities like workplace trauma. Different causes of workplace trauma could be attributed to unrealistic deadlines and job descriptions, burnout, toxic environments, bias, and racism. According to The American Institute of Stress, employees noted that 46% of their overall stress comes from their workload. Culture, performance, and retention begin to suffer when employees including management feel overwhelmed and unsupported. ThinkHuman and 15Five have invited people leaders to share their understanding of what can cause workplace trauma and how culture impacts employee well-being.
  • Retaining Employees by Boosting Manager Effectiveness (60 min): People leave managers, not companies. Employee retention starts by setting expectations around the employee-manager relationship and training those managers to be effective. In Week 4 of this webinar series, we will cover best practices on one-on-one meetings, performance management, and career growth conversations to empower employees as individuals.
  • Retention Through Recognition: Feedback, Growth, and the Rise of Self (58 min): How do you keep employees learning and not leaving? Week 2 of this Employee Retention webinar series will flip the ignition switch on individual employee growth and the rise of self. We will discuss the psychological impacts of recognition, learning, growth, and cross-cultural communication to create strong, inclusive environments that keep people engaged.
  • The New Rules for Retention: What Matters Now for Retaining Your High Performers (60 min): In today’s labor market, it is more important than ever to identify your top performers, keep them engaged, and retain them. After this panel discussion, you’ll come away with both tried-and-true and new tactics for improving engagement, and insights into how to bake these revamped retention strategies into a holistic people and performance management strategy.
HR Superstars podcast 🎧
  • Creative Ways to Combat Talent Scarcity (30 min): Ben Eubanks, Chief Research Officer at Lighthouse Research & Advisory and author of Talent Scarcity, reveals the root problem with hiring and retention. Through his research, he’s seen many job-hoppers end up unsatisfied no matter the pay increases or lofty titles they achieve. The common thread among them is that they’re seeking – and failing to find – deeper connection at work.
  • Bringing Human Flourishing to Work with Lippert’s Amber Selking (34 min): In the midst of the Great Resignation, Great Reshuffling, or whatever you call the turnover trend, any organization would jump at the chance to reduce their attrition by 100% and serve their community at the same time. Amber Selking, VP of Leadership and Culture Development at Lippert Components, joins the show to share how her team’s attrition fell drastically over 10 years as their organization began to prioritize purpose and community service. In this episode, she and Shane discuss how to help employees pursue their dreams, find purposeful work, and serve those around them. Listen in to find out how you can do the same.
  • Reframing Work, Life, and Employee Turnover with Abby Hamilton, Chief People Officer at LiveIntent (35 min): The way we work has changed dramatically. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the importance of putting people first. Abby Hamilton, Chief People Officer at LiveIntent, has compelling advice for doing just that, even when it’s hard. This value permeates all areas of her team, from conversations about compensation to managing employee performance. A people-first perspective also calls for reframing some aspects of work. Abby explains how turnover can be good for individuals and your organization, why work-life balance is a myth, and what it looks like to live out your values. Join us as we discuss work-life integration, reframing turnover, and handling compensation conversations.


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