Skip to Content

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information. Click here.

Employee Retention: Keeping Top Talent

Once you’ve hired your employees, it’s important to keep them happy on the team. In addition to the cost benefits of employment continuity, there are also morale and productivity benefits.

Now that you’ve got great workers, how do you keep them?

  • Train your managers.
    Much of the time, employees do not leave organizations—they leave managers. You may have excellent managers that can perform many functions of the job, but if you don’t have a manager in place that knows how to effectively manage, motivate and treat employees fairly, you will face employee dissatisfaction and turnover.
  • Offer extrinsic and intrinsic rewards.
    Yes, you need to make sure that pay, benefits and bonuses are equitable within your geographic area and industry (extrinsic reward). But when employees are motivated only by financial incentives, they tend to focus more on the financial reward than doing good work. Employees don’t stay just for the pay. They also need to know that their work makes a positive difference to the goals of the company, their managers, customers and fellow employees (intrinsic reward).
  • Consider company culture during the hiring process.
    A candidate may possess all the skills necessary to perform the job, but if they are not a good fit with your company culture and fellow employees, they are not a good fit for the company. Hiring them anyway will result in increased turnover.
  • Promote from within.
    When employees are given the opportunity to create a career path within their company, they are motivated to stay. However, if good, qualified employees are passed over for promotions or desired lateral moves, they will leave and go to a company that will recognize and reward their efforts.
  • Use satisfaction surveys and foster engagement.
    Ask your employees what’s important to them, what’s working and what’s not. Yes, in some instances you may open for the door for negative feedback, but the majority of employees will appreciate that you care what they think. After all, they are performing the job every day and can give you the best feedback and offer great suggestions for improvements or changes.
  • Give frequent feedback.
    Don’t wait until review time to give feedback. Your employees want to know how they are doing and how they can improve their performance. Don’t be negative. Give clear examples and specific tactics they can use to improve their performance. Set goals together. Engage your employees by asking what they can do to resolve any performance issues. Don't forget to give positive feedback to those who are doing a good job. Nobody wants to hear about their performance from their manager only when it is negative.
  • Encourage executive conversations.
    Employees want to hear from executive level management about what’s happening in the company—the good and the bad. Did you have a really good year? Let your employees know and thank them for their part in it that success. Take time to share your goals for the future of your company with your employees. Help them to have a clear understanding of their role in meeting these goals. If there are major changes in your organization, your employees need to hear that from you. Changes can often cause fear and stress. You need to address these changes and alleviate your employees’ concerns.
  • Recognize employee successes.
    Appreciation is a fundamental human need. This is one of the most important factors in employee motivation and retention. Employees need to feel connected to their organization and know that their work matters. Recognition does not have to be complicated. If an employee is consistently doing a great job or excelling on a particular project, let them know. Send an e-mail, write a letter. Even a high five and "great job!" from you can mean a lot. Be specific when you express your recognition. This can be especially influential when it comes from top management.
  • Offer autonomy.
    Employees want to have direction from their manager, but they also value a certain degree of autonomy in their jobs. Employees need a clear job description, and their manger must clearly express what their expectations are from an employee for their overall performance and day to day responsibilities. With this clarity, an employee can direct their work flow and performance without being micromanaged. The employee can take ownership of their role and responsibility for their own performance.
  • Facilitate teamwork.
    People spend a large majority of their time at work and with their fellow employees. It is important to build strong, functional, well-led teams. Successful teams communicate, are respectful of other team members, and are focused and committed to their organization and to achieving goals. Good teamwork facilitates positive relationships with fellow coworkers. It helps bond them together as they work to achieve common goals—an important factor in retaining employees.


Your employees are the backbone of your company. If your employees are happy, it will show in their performance—and it will be one the most important factors in retaining your customers and increasing the overall profitability of your organization.


Check out Part I of this series: Employee Retention: What Does Employee Turnover Cost?


"Happy Coffee," © 2012 Jim Wolffman, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Return to Blog