Chances are, the next time you plan a management training meeting, employee retention will be on the agenda. Why? Because, according to a new survey of 39 companies by TalentKeepers, an employee retention firm in Maitland, Fla., turnover remains one of the most costly problems facing companies — even in this economy.

“Companies need to have frontline leaders take responsibility for retention. They can make a difference,” says Craig Taylor, senior vice president at TalentKeepers. “One hundred percent of the individuals we spoke to said that their immediate manager was a factor as to why they would leave a company. And half said it was the main factor.”

What skills might companies train managers to focus on? TalentKeepers categorizes three management styles, which can be developed through training, that have a positive effect on retention:

  • Retention Monitor

    This leader keeps an eye open for signs that employees might be considering a job change. He or she also takes steps to keep them onboard.

  • Retention Expert

    As the name says, this person is an expert at retaining employees. He or she understands the effect employee retention has on customer service and customer retention as well.

  • Talent Coach

    Helps employees grow as employees, hoping to generate a greater commitment to the company.

To keep employees, managers should learn to emphasize a strong work-life balance. “Compressed work days, flex days, don't cost a lot,” says Frank Scanlan, spokesman for the Society of Human Resource Management, Alexandria, Va.

Smart managers know that a down economy is only a temporary occurrence. “No one wants to be in a poor position when things pick up, jobs open up, and employees have a chance to flee the company.”