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Be a Best Company – Four Employee Retention Strategies

“My boss is a jerk and my career is going nowhere in this organization, but there’s yoga and a pool table, so I think I’ll stay,” said no employee ever.

Employees enjoy concierge service, free lunch, ping pong, and social events at work, but these perks don’t improve retention or performance. The only perks known to improve employee loyalty and commitment is time off and a flexible schedule.  Everything else is nice to have, but does not impact career decisions.

Organizational leaders and managers have been led down a path of expensive distractions disguised as employee retention strategies. Eliminate the noise and focus on the four things that really matter to employees, and your best people will stay.

This is what’s important to your employees:

  • I trust the leaders who run this organization.
  • My opinion means something.  I am listened to.
  • I feel respected (by my manager) and have good relationships in the organization.
  • My work is challenging and interesting.

So what should you do if you want to be a best place to work? 

Here are Four Employee Retention Strategies Managers Can Take:

1.   Meet one-on-one with employees and have meaningful discussions about his/her performance and career goals.

2.  Ask employees for their opinion and demonstrate that you’ve heard them.

3.  Provide opportunities for employees to do work they enjoy.

4.  Ensure employees who want to advance in your organization are learning and growing.

Read about our Be a Great Place to Work leadership training program that eliminates the noise and teaches the things leaders and managers really need to do to retain the best employees.


Effective Management Requires Asking Questions

If an employee quits and the manager is surprised, shame on the manager. Employee turnover – literal turnover (he quits and leaves the building) or figurative turnover (he quits but continues to come in everyday and do his minimal best) – are extremely predictable.Effective Management

Most employees need only a handful of things to be satisfied and productive at work. The key is getting employees to tell you what those things are. And they might just tell you, if you ask.

An employee’s first few weeks at a new job often involve a lot of training. Managers tell employees what they need to do and hopefully why they need to do those things. I recommend balancing telling with asking.

Effective management involves asking the seven questions below during the interview process, after an employee starts, and again 90-days to six months into the job.

Effective management question number one: “What brought you to this company? Why did you accept this job? What are you hoping the job will provide?” Ask one of these three questions. Pick the one you like best.

Effective management question number two: “What would make you leave this job? What are your career deal breakers, things you just can’t tolerate at work?” Ask either of these questions.

Effective management question number three: “What type of work, skills, and/or areas of our business do you want to learn more about?”

Effective management question number four: “Tell me about the best manager you ever had. What made him/her the best manager?” This will tell you what the employee needs from you as a manager and is a much better question than, “What do you need from me as your manager?” That is a hard question to answer. Telling you the best manager s/he ever had is easy.

Effective management question number five: “Tell me about the worst manager you ever had? What made him/her the worst manager?”

Effective management question number six: “What are your pet peeves at work? What will frustrate you?” Why find out the hard way what frustrates employees when it’s so easy to ask. This question demonstrates that you want your employees to be happy and that you will flex your own preferences, when possible, to meet employees’ needs.

Effective management question number seven: “How do you feel about being contacted via cell phone or text outside of business hours? How do you feel about receiving emails during the evenings and weekends?”

If you’ve participated in one of our effective management trainings and received a box of Candor Questions for Managers, you know I could go on. But these seven questions are a good start.

Regardless of age, gender, or work and educational background, all employees have a few things in common. Employees want to:

• Work for someone who takes an interest in and knows them
• Feel valued and appreciated for their contributions
• Be part of and contribute to something greater than themselves
• Feel respected as a person. Managers respect their time, expertise, and needs

Taking the time to get to know employees throughout your working relationship accomplishes many employee needs.

If you have long time employees, it’s never too late to ask these questions. Regardless of for how long employees have worked for you, they’ll appreciate you asking. There is no need to feel that employees will raise an eyebrow and wonder why you’re asking now. They’ll just be happy you’re asking. You can simply say, “I realized that I’ve never overtly asked these questions. I just assume I know. But I don’t want to do that. You’re too valuable to me and to the organization. During our next one-on-one meeting I’d like to ask you these questions and you can ask me anything you’d like.”

If you have a manager who will never ask you these questions, provide him/her the information. Don’t wait to be asked. You’re 100% accountable for your career. Tell your manager, “There are a few things about myself I want to share with you. I think this information will make me easier to manage and will help ensure I do great work for the organization for a long time.”

Managers, the better your relationship with your employees and the more you know about what your employees need from you, the organization, and the job, the easier employees are to engage, retain, and manage. Stop guessing and start asking.

Effective Management


Effective Management Requires Asking Questions

Effective ManagementIf an employee quits and the manager is surprised, shame on the manager. Employee turnover – literal turnover (he quits and leaves the building) or figurative turnover (he quits but continues to come in everyday and do his minimal best) – are extremely predictable.

Most employees need only a handful of things to be satisfied and productive at work. The key is getting employees to tell you what those things are. And they might just tell you, if you ask.

An employee’s first few weeks at a new job often involve a lot of training. Managers tell employees what they need to do and hopefully why they need to do those things. I recommend balancing telling with asking.

Effective management involves asking the seven questions below during the interview process, after an employee starts, and again 90-days to six months into the job.

Effective management question number one: “What brought you to this company? Why did you accept this job? What are you hoping the job will provide?” Ask one of these three questions. Pick the one you like best.

Effective management question number two: “What would make you leave this job? What are your career deal breakers, things you just can’t tolerate at work?” Ask either of these questions.

Effective management question number three: “What type of work, skills, and/or areas of our business do you want to learn more about?”

Effective management question number four: “Tell me about the best manager you ever had. What made him/her the best manager?” This will tell you what the employee needs from you as a manager and is a much better question than, “What do you need from me as your manager?” That is a hard question to answer. Telling you the best manager s/he ever had is easy.

Effective management question number five: “Tell me about the worst manager you ever had? What made him/her the worst manager?”

Effective management question number six: “What are your pet peeves at work? What will frustrate you?” Why find out the hard way what frustrates employees when it’s so easy to ask. This question demonstrates that you want your employees to be happy and that you will flex your own preferences, when possible, to meet employees’ needs.

Effective management question number seven: “How do you feel about being contacted via cell phone or text outside of business hours? How do you feel about receiving emails during the evenings and weekends?”

If you’ve participated in one of our effective management trainings and received a box of Candor Questions for Managers, you know I could go on. But these seven questions are a good start.

Regardless of age, gender, or work and educational background, all employees have a few things in common. Employees want to:

• Work for someone who takes an interest in and knows them
• Feel valued and appreciated for their contributions
• Be part of and contribute to something greater than themselves
• Feel respected as a person. Managers respect their time, expertise, and needs

Taking the time to get to know employees throughout your working relationship accomplishes many employee needs.

If you have long time employees, it’s never too late to ask these questions. Regardless of for how long employees have worked for you, they’ll appreciate you asking. There is no need to feel that employees will raise an eyebrow and wonder why you’re asking now. They’ll just be happy you’re asking. You can simply say, “I realized that I’ve never overtly asked these questions. I just assume I know. But I don’t want to do that. You’re too valuable to me and to the organization. During our next one-on-one meeting I’d like to ask you these questions and you can ask me anything you’d like.”

If you have a manager who will never ask you these questions, provide him/her the information. Don’t wait to be asked. You’re 100% accountable for your career. Tell your manager, “There are a few things about myself I want to share with you. I think this information will make me easier to manage and will help ensure I do great work for the organization for a long time.”

Managers, the better your relationship with your employees and the more you know about what your employees need from you, the organization, and the job, the easier employees are to engage, retain, and manage. Stop guessing and start asking.

Effective Management


Be a Best Company – Four Employee Retention Strategies

I could give you a list of fifty employee retention strategies you could follow to improve employee performance, engagement and retention. But the truth is, there are really just four things you must do. Employees may appreciate the other 46 things but don’t necessarily need them to stay with your organization and do their best work.Ways to retain employees

The Colorado Society of Human Resource Management hosts an annual Best Companies competition, and organizations of all sizes compete. Last year I led a workshop before the awards ceremony. The purpose of the workshop was to share the things that make an organization a great place to work. While researching the program, the things that separate the great companies from the less desirable places to work became very clear. I’ll share those employee retention strategies here.

Employees ask themselves these questions at work:

  • Do I trust the leaders of this organization?
  • Does my opinion/voice matter in this organization?
  • Do I have a good relationship with my manager?
  • Is my manager invested in helping me advance my career?

Employees enjoy yoga, concierge service, espresso, and social events at work, but these perks don’t necessarily improve retention or performance. The only perk known to improve employee loyalty and commitment is a flexible schedule.  Everything else is nice to have, but not essential.

This is what’s really important to your employees:

  • I trust the leaders who run this organization.
  • My opinion means something.  I am listened to.
  • I feel respected (by my manager) and have good relationships in the organization.
  • My work is challenging and interesting.

So what should you do if you want to be a best place to work? 

Four Employee Retention Strategies Leaders Can Use to Create Relationships with Employees at All Levels:

1.  Know employees’ names, talents & career goals.

2. Be visible. Talk to employees.

3.  Give more information than you think you need to. Employees want to know how your organization is performing.

  • Hold town hall meetings. Give financial updates.
  • Use ‘Ask the CEO’ boxes to encourage questions and feedback.
  • Encourage senior leaders to conduct small, roundtable discussions with employees at all levels.

4.  Align leaders’ words and actions.

  • Organizational guidelines are applied consistently among all employees.
  • Don’t gossip or chuck other leaders under the bus.
  • Be consistent. Don’t say, “The CEO says this, but we’re going to do this instead.”

Four Employee Retention Strategies Managers Can Take:

1.   Meet one-on-one with employees and have meaningful discussions about employees’ performance and career goals.

2.  Ask employees for their opinion and demonstrate that you’ve heard them.

3.  Provide opportunities for employees to do work they enjoy.

4.  Ensure employees who want to advance in your organization are learning and growing.

Read about our Be a Great Place to Work leadership training program designed for Senior Leaders and HR Professionals.


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