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Why Employees Stay

July 27th, 2015

By: Karen Colligan

Stay-1A lot has been written about why employees leave – poor leadership, lack of advancement, compensation, and increasingly, work/life balance. In fact, the latter was cited in a 2014 BambooHR survey as the second highest reason employees leave, right behind #1: opportunity for advancement.

That’s why employees leave. Let’s talk about how you can get them to stay. Employees need to feel valued, connected, challenged and recognized. They want to use their strengths – every day - and know that they’re contributing to the success of the organization. They also want to have time to spend with their families and/or to pursue interests outside of work. And they want to be fairly compensated for the work they do. It’s not rocket science.

Help your employees feel valued by communicating how their goals align with team and organizational goals. Provide them with opportunities to build on their strengths, learn new skills and prepare for the future needs of the company. Development can happen in many different forms: on-the-job training, personal development, cross-functional projects, coach and/or mentor, special projects, stretch assignments, training courses, reading and personal study, online courses, peer coaching, job shadowing… The important thing is that it is available and encouraged.

Help them feel connected by communicating with them clearly and consistently. An HBR article, “The Top Complaints from Employees About Their Leaders” noted that communication issues top the list, including: Not recognizing employee achievements, not giving clear directions, and not having time to meet with employees. When leaders communicate regularly, and build a sense of connectedness with their employees, those employees are happier and more productive.

Do you have career roadmaps and succession plans in place? If not, what are you waiting for? Help your employees feel challenged by communicating the next level in their career path and what they need to do to get there. Give them temporary assignments that will stretch their skills and comfort level.

In the leaner work environment today, most employees are feeling the brunt of doing more with less. Recognize their efforts by saying “thank you” early and often. Don’t wait until review time to tell them what a good job they’re doing. And be specific – what was the situation, what did they do, and what was the impact. Applaud the behavior you want to see repeated and emulated.

Organizations need to acknowledge that their people are the lifeblood of the business. Don’t take your employees for granted. As the economy continues to improve and there are options for them elsewhere, you want to keep those employees in your organization. Find creative ways to develop and challenge them. Let them know they are valued, and that they are a critical component to the business moving forward. Build succession plans to ensure that your bench strength is available and ready to grow the business.

And most of all, don’t forget the old adage…treat your employees the way you want to be treated. It will pay off in leaps and bounds in the future.

Till next time,



Communication, company culture, Engagement, Leadership


Culture-2I’ve worked with several organizations recently who were preparing for major hiring efforts in anticipation of launching a new product or service. So often in this situation companies get caught up in the numbers and logistics of it all – “We’ve got 25 positions to fill by next month, do we have enough resumes in the pipeline?” “What’s our process going to be?” “How quickly will we be able to get the new hires up to speed?” I tell my clients that before they even think about pipeline and process and orientation programs, they need to determine the company culture that they’ll be hiring these people into. They need to ask the question: What are the qualities – the competencies and chemistry – we’ll be hiring for to ensure that our new hires will stay? Otherwise they’re just hiring to be hiring. They might as well just hand out company badges to the first 25 people off the freeway.

We all know that hiring mistakes are costly. In fact, it costs organizations an average of 1.5 times salary and benefits to replace an employee. Avoid this by taking the time to get very clear about the criteria for making good hires, and that includes culture. The senior leadership team must determine what they want their culture to be, communicate that culture, model the culture and hire to that culture. Here are 5 tips for defining your culture and hiring for retention.

Determine the company values. Identify at least 3, a maximum of 5. Name them, define them, and come up with examples of behaviors that align with the values. Everyone on the leadership team and everyone who interviews candidates should have a clear understanding of the values, and be prepared to ask interview questions that determine alignment.

Define the 2 Cs – competency and chemistry. Establish very clear roles and responsibilities for every position at every level within the organization. Develop job descriptions that include both core competencies (mapped to the culture) and job specific skills. Determine what a good fit is and what it isn’t.

Get clear about what you want the organization to be known for. This is key in attracting – and keeping – the type of employees who will align with your culture and help propel the company forward. Think of some brands and what they’re known for. For example, Virgin America – innovation, service, customer care. Trump – money, building, Trump. Be sure your branding reflects how you want to be perceived.

Communicate. Communicate your culture to current employees, to candidates, to new hires, to customers.

And last, but certainly not least, remember that it’s about the PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE. Hiring the brightest and the best does you no good if you don’t take care of them. Be clear about their roles and responsibilities. Help them understand the values and the culture. Keep developing them, providing them with new challenges, and creating a work environment where every level of the organization is valued, connected, challenged and recognized.

Till next time,


Communication, company culture, Engagement, Leadership, People

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