8 Keys to Retaining Great Employees



Erica Fener
01/28/2014

Every business has top performers. In order to have long-term health and success in a business, you must keep these employees around. Retaining top employees guarantees product sales, customer satisfaction, satisfied co-workers and reporting staff, deeply engrained organizational learning and knowledge, and effective succession planning. Training new employees is also expensive and time-consuming. So what can you do to make sure that these great employees don't leave? Here are eight keys for retaining your best employees.

Clear, consistent expectations

People do not want to go into work every day unsure of what they are supposed to be doing. When expectations change constantly, employees are on edge, stressed out, and generally insecure. People may even feel unsuccessful about their job performances because they are never sure whether or not they are doing their jobs well. Satisfied employees know what to expect at work on a daily basis.

High quality supervision

Hiring nice, well-liked supervisors is a good start, but it is not enough to keep employees happy. A supervisor’s actions can inadvertently make employees feel as though they are undervalued or not valued at all, and that plays a role in turnover. Employees look for clear expectations and earning potential, as well as performance feedback and follow-through with scheduled items such as meetings and conference calls.

Freedom to share ideas and feedback

A business must openly solicit ideas. Many employees are not willing to offer ideas unless they are asked directly. Also, a company must be able to provide an environment where employees feel comfortable with sharing their ideas and opinions. For a business to succeed, everyone in the business—both leadership and employees—must have a strong commitment to continuous improvement and must also feel free to criticize.

Proper talent and skill utilization

When you put the right person in the right job, you are much more likely to keep employees around. One way to retain great people is by getting to know each employee, including their skill sets and motivations. How do employees fit into the culture of the business? Motivated employees are interested in contributing beyond their current job descriptions. Learn the talent and experience of your employees and then maximize their potential.

Fair and equitable treatment

Think about how longtime employees feel when a brand new sales representative with very little experience is given the most successful accounts from the start. Or what if an employee receives two substantial raises in a six-month period—and that’s completely out of the norm for your company? These practices do not stay under wraps, and they can greatly compromise company morale.

Frequent opportunities for learning and growth

It may seem counterintuitive to spend money on current employees to avoid training new employees. However, providing regular learning and growth opportunities helps retain great employees. In order for workers to stay current and motivated in their jobs, they must be given the chance to learn everything they can about their positions and the industry in general.

Strong investment in retention

Saying that you want to retain employees and actually putting practices into place to retain employees are two different things. The company’s leadership must be strongly invested in this practice. You may also want to consider developing employee committees to determine why people stay at the company and what changes could be made to make the organization an even better place to work.

Gestures of reward and recognition

Small gestures such as saying thank you and noticing initiative go a long way. People feel even more appreciated when they receive bonuses, gifts and other rewards. Raises should be linked to achievement and accomplishments. Keep employees informed about their bonuses, commissions, and raises. Working is often about the money, and people look forward to opportunities to bring in additional earnings.

Erica L. Fener, Ph.D., is Vice President, Business Development Strategy and Analysis at Progressus Therapy, a leader in connecting their candidates with physical therapy and occupational therapy jobs.

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