The Simple Answer to Employee Retention

The Simple Answer to Employee Retention 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

We have a tendency to over complicate things when it comes to management.

When I speak to groups about talent, a question that will often come up in Q&A is:

“How can we retain the best people at our company?”

This is a really important question.  Our best people are who make our business successful.  Good talent is increasingly hard to find.  So, we certainly don’t want to lose them.

My first response when I get this question is generally, “Have you asked them?”  Your best people probably want to keep working with you–changing jobs is a pain.  So, why not just go tell them that you’d really like to keep them with the company long term and ask them what you need to do to keep them around?  Sometimes, just the act of acknowledging that you value a person and want them to stick around can go a long way.  Plus, it’s in their best interest to tell you the truth about why they will stay.  And once they tell you, the path forward is pretty clear.

There is no silver bullet answer to employee retention.  But, there is a fairly simple way to approach the question.  Ask the employees you most want to keep what it will take to keep them around.  Do one on one interviews.  Conduct focus groups.  Design a survey.  The important thing is that you ask.

If you ask a married couple who have been together for a couple decades for advice on how to keep a marriage together, they will almost without fail note communication as one of the most important factors.  Turns out that if you can communicate with each other openly, you can work through almost any problem and keep the marriage healthy.

Why wouldn’t the same be true with your best employees.  If communication is open and you are asking them regularly how they are doing and what else they need while really listening to what they have to say, the open communication will go a long way to keep them around.

Keep it simple.  If you really want to know what will keep your employees around, ask them.  Often.

1 comment
  • Karl Tischler

    Found this blog post very refreshing, Jason! I was expecting yet another discussion about talent management until I got to the line “Have you asked them?”.


    Simple, straight-forward communication with employees sometimes feels either under-valued or plain forgotten.

    I see so many HR tech vendors selling metrics and analytics solutions enabling companies to endlessly analyze data in the hopes of trying to figure out how to attract and retain top employees. These technologies may help refine a talent retention effort but won’t amount to much of anything without basic employee communications.

    Thanks for the fresh thinking!

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