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ABCs of employee retention

January 12, 2016 -  By

Employers added 271,000 jobs in October, far exceeding economists’ forecasts. The unemployment rate slipped a tenth of a point to 5 percent and average hourly earnings moved up 0.4 percent, doubling economists’ expectations. So, how are you ensuring your best team members don’t jump ship?

Employee retention efforts don’t have to be elaborate. You just have to do a good job on the fundamentals. Take a look at the following ideas, and add at least a few of them to your employee retention strategy. (You do have a retention strategy, don’t you?)

Accountability. Make managers and supervisors accountable for employee turnover and watch retention improve.

Benefits. Try to stay at least even with the competition.

Communications. Too often management only sends messages to employees. Good people will stay longer when there are simple, systematic ways for employees to talk to management, as well.

Dignity. Consideration, kindness and respect are the hallmarks of all great business leaders. Great leaders inspire great loyalty.

Employee selection. The best way to improve employee retention is to hire right in the first place. Test for the attitudes it takes to be successful on the job (dependability, honesty, initiative, etc.) and don’t hire anyone who doesn’t meet your standards.

Fun. Ever see anyone decide to quit having fun? When you make your workplace fun, your great folks won’t leave, and you’ll have applicants lined up around the block.

Growth. Some people are happy doing the same job year after year. Some aren’t. Make sure your high achievers have a goal to strive for.

Hire tough. The best people want to work for organizations that take hiring seriously and hire only the best, making their jobs hard to get.

Interview. Ask about applicants’ first jobs, what they learned there and how they learned it. Then go forward through their entire work history to learn whether the person is learning and growing or just job hopping.

Jobs. Continuously cross train employees so they gain new skills and an appreciation for their coworkers’ responsibilities.

Knowledge. Share it freely. No one likes operating in the dark. If you’re not keeping your people in the know, they’re spending your time and money speculating about what’s going on and why.

Lighten up. Like the Dalai Lama says: “If there’s a solution, there’s nothing to worry about. If there’s not a solution, there’s nothing to worry about.” You set the tone for the corporate culture. Would you want to work for you?

Manage. Manage people the way they want to be managed, not the way that’s easiest for you. Some people want lots of support and encouragement. Some want free rein.

Never. Never take anyone for granted. Most people don’t stick around where they’re not appreciated.

Orientation. First impressions are lasting. No employee is ever more enthusiastic or motivated than during the first few days in a new job. Use this time to make new hires feel welcome and valued.

Praise. Praise loudly and often. Catch them doing something right and talk it up. Then watch everyone else try to live up to the standard set by the person being praised.

Quality. Never settle for any less than their best. The good ones will appreciate it. The turkeys will look for a less demanding work environment.

Referrals. New employees referred by existing employees stay on the job three to five times longer than employees from any other source.

Set expectations. People will live up to expectations. Set them early and set them high.

Training. Employees don’t quit companies; they quit managers. Give your managers a fighting chance by training them in team-building skills.

Understanding. Everyone’s clamoring for more work/life balance. Be understanding of the need to accommodate family or personal matters. It goes a long way toward building loyalty.

Values. Make sure it’s “employees first, customers second.” Make your people your No. 1 priority, and they’ll take care of your customers.

Watch what happens. What we pay attention to improves. Pay positive attention to retention.

X-out the unsuitable. People get fed up covering for the slackers.

Yield. Yield to employees’ wisdom. They know your customers best.

Zero-in. Look at every way possible to improve employee retention. There is a direct correlation between employee retention, customer loyalty and company profits.

About the Author:

Mel Kleiman is the author is the founder of Humetrics. He helps companies build high-quality, frontline, hourly workforces. Reach him at

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