How to Retain Employees

December 6, 1999
Retaining employees should be a prime concern of any organization because it has a major impact on the bottom line. Recruiting, training, compensating and motivating new employees is expensive. Losing employees usually means losing customers, business and credibility as an employer. A solid track record of low turnover shows the world that your company’s morale is good.

As someone who has started up and expanded a variety of organizations, from retail to high technology, I’ve found that six tactics can increase retention:

  1. Offer competitive compensation.
    Although few departing employees cite compensation as their top reason for leaving, your company must provide a competitive compensation and benefits program.
  2. Culture fit.
    I send potential employees through a battery of interviews, ask hard questions and do everything I can to make sure they’re a solid fit.
  3. Manage by walking around.
    Get to know each of your direct reports. Talk to them about their family, their hobbies and their work. And encourage them to do the same thing with their reports. Good managers relish the attention and additional input. It makes their job easier.
  4. Solicit input.
    It doesn’t matter how you do it—weekly "all hands" meetings, suggestion box, e-mail forum, open-door policy, whatever. Just make sure everyone knows you’re sincere and that you welcome their input.
  5. Establish advisory groups that represent all operating divisions.
    Hold monthly meetings, and rotate group members every six months. Set the agenda in advance, and have the meetings in the late afternoon ... but on company time. Serve pizza, burgers, etc. and get everyone involved. Urge everyone to participate, but don’t force them. I’ve found that the vast majority can’t wait to have their turn in a group.
  6. Revamp reviews.
    Because many people hate reviews, my approach is to find out if individuals are contributing the way THEY want to contribute. I ask them how their job is, and how their department, division or company is doing. We also cover their accomplishments and career path. When we conclude the session, both of us leave the table more informed and confident regarding the future.

SOURCE: Global Perspectives. Copyright © 1999 by RAY & BERNDTSON, Inc. Web site at