5 Talent Retention Strategies We Learn from Cinco de Mayo

While most people associate Cinco de Mayo with carne asada, mariachi music, and a zesty tequila, there is a powerful allegory about the employee retention strategy behind all the festivities. These five enchiladas of wisdom revealed by the underdog victory at the Battle of Puebla offers strong insights intro talent retention strategies.

Talent Retention Strategies Hot Tamale #1: Know what You’re up Against

When the Mexicans triumphed over the French, it was a major upset. Not only were the French an undefeated military force, the Mexicans lacked both numbers and resources to defend themselves.[1] Did they cower in fear from this challenge, even though the odds were stacked against them? Spoiler alert…No.

They took to battle with an intelligent strategy which brought to life what may have seemed an impossible victory.[2]

To apply this history lesson to the modern day workforce, employers are fighting a battle to retain key employees in a hot economy. Yet many of them are fighting the war without knowing they are in one. Lacking data on the enemy, without a clear plan of action or program to guide them on the battlefield, talent consistently leaves. Is it for a higher salary? Many firms do not have a reliable method to capture what employees really values. It is a bloodbath when companies lack the proper HR metrics and retention programs to defend themselves. Having a full arsenal of diagnostic data and talent analytics is the first step to winning the war.

Talent Retention Strategies Hot Tamale #2: Foster a Culture of Commitment

To say that the Mexican army was a motley crew is an understatement. They were shabby and disheveled compared to their French counterparts. However, they were unified in their spirit.[3] Loyalty and Connectedness fortified their attack against a greater foe.

For organizations and startups who may be the small fish in el mar grande, how committed is your culture to triumph? In the present day, companies can achieve solidarity by using focused employee pulse surveys that determine whether or not workers are prepared to defend the organization’s well-being. Gain insights into how Connected and Loyal your organization is by understanding Commitment Indicators. No one is safe from technology disruptors that impact the fall and rise of organizations. A culture of commitment is the safeguard a businesses can leverage to overthrow any competitor.

Talent Retention Strategies Hot Tamale #3: Recognize & Celebrate the Small Wins

Interestingly, the underdog’s victory in the Battle at Puebla was not the tactical turning point. It took years for Mexico to win the whole enchilada when the French finally retreated in defeat.[4] The battle was a symbolic victory that carried more meaning in its story than in its strategic gains. It was a small piece of recognition that blew up into a celebration of a moment of triumph.

Modern day employers can use this same tactic to inspire their workforce. Celebrating each and every victory, no matter how minor, is a way to applaud the people, over and over again. It is one of the most successful staff retention strategies as it reminds employees of their power over, and impact on, the bigger goal they work towards. By selling, in a sense, the merits of what happens day to day in the workplace, companies create a culture of recognition. When we set visible goals for our teams, departments, and organization, there is immense power in celebrating the achievements of those milestones together.

Talent Retention Strategies Hot Tamale #4: Create Workplace Traditions with Symbolism

This holiday is often interpreted to be the Mexican “Fourth of July”. , The historical facts paint a picture that implies nothing of the sort. Cinco de Mayo is bigger than Mexico – it became an international celebration of freedom because the ritual itself carries this meaning. Within the workforce, staff retention strategies thrive when tradition and celebration are present. For example, a company may plant a seed in a flower pot for every new employee that joins the organization. The flower’s growth represents a symbol of the individual’s progress and expansion of the company as a whole. Culture is defined by traditions and symbolic gestures that go deeper than what the brand means to the outside world. Build culture by paying attention to recurrent events that enforce the brand and celebrate the vision of what it means to be part of the organization.

Talent Retention Strategies Hot Tamale #5: Hire the Right Talent

The Mexican army was incredibly tight on resources and means. Their strength was in recruitment. Quite simply, they enlisted the right people who stuck around even when times got tough. This is what led to their ultimate triumph.

Likewise, companies who want to dominate a competitive industry get the best employees who want to stay on the mission. Recruiting to retain is one of the most potent staff retention strategies that this Cinco de Mayo allegory brings to light. Before starting the recruitment process, identify who would be the most successful person for the job, for the team, and for the organization’s culture. Culture fit and mission/vision alignment in a new hire substantially improves goal attainment and extends tenure. In finding people willing to dig deeper, we are more resilient when competition or disruptors change the game. So celebrate Cinco de Mayo by using what we have to build a workforce that will last.

Hungry for more Retention Tamales? Staff retention strategies have a place in a company’s talent arsenal every day of the year as the Cinco de Mayo fiesta happens year round. For employee retention advice that comes with a side of guacamole, email requests@retensa.com.


[1] History.com staff. (2009). Cinco de Mayo. History.com, A+E Networks. Retrieved on April 21, 2017 from http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/cinco-de-mayo

[2] Gilliam, Ron. (2017, January 20). “Viva El Cinco de Mayo!” The Battle of Puebla. Warfare History Network. Retrieved from http://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/military-history/viva-el-cinco-de-mayo-the-battle-of-puebla/

[3] History.com staff. (2009). Cinco de Mayo. History.com, A+E Networks. Retrieved on April 21, 2017 from http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/cinco-de-mayo

[4] History.com staff. (2009). Cinco de Mayo. History.com, A+E Networks. Retrieved on April 21, 2017 from http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/cinco-de-mayo


Posted: 5/4/2017

social position

Share this post