How businesses can ensure their employees stick around

photo by ThoroughlyReviewed | Flickr Creative Commons

In a world full of to-do lists, to-do lists for your to-do lists, and deadlines, thinking about strategies on how to retain employees can sometimes be on the back burner. However, experts say it should be a priority.

With unemployment rates at 4.4 percent, the lowest it’s been in the past 10 years, finding and keeping great people is becoming more of a challenge. It will take more time to go through recruiting, interviewing, onboarding, and training, when in fact you can nurture and work with the employees you currently have with no speed bumps. Not only will retention save you time, but also it will provide your company with quality work. When employees feel taken care of and listened to, they want to return the favor by listening to the company’s needs and fulfilling those needs excellently.

The unemployment rate isn’t the only thing changing. The workforce is shifting as millennials start to take over. This generation is changing the game as it is becoming more common to see resumes with two-year stints at various companies. So, how do we keep up?

In a roundtable discussion held by Godshall Professional Recruiting and Staffing and moderated by our very own Hannah Barfield Spellmeyer, I had the pleasure of hearing insights from four experts who weighed in on real-life experiences with practicing retention. These leaders have been in the business of people for more than 20 years.


Companies want people who are on board with its vision. It’s important to intentionally collaborate with executives and vice presidents to set expectations for the job position you are looking to fill. One top executive says, “If you study a winning team, and a group that has a history of winning, you’ll find that the leaders who are a part of that team lead with passion.” Companies today aren’t just looking for a warm body to fill the position; they are looking for people who are passionate about what they do and who will be able to move the business forward.

It’s essential to intentionally and strategically bring culture into the conversation to ensure the candidate will be a good fit. Placing people in the wrong culture results in quick turnover. If you don’t like country music, do you really want to spend your time at a country music concert?

One panelist who is a senior director of human resources said, “We try to strategically talk with candidates about our culture and see if that is something they will be able to embrace and love. The millennial generation gets excited when they feel like they have a purpose and that what they are doing is really making a difference.”

On the contrary, employees want a peek behind the curtain to better understand how the business is doing. Younger workers seem to have an even stronger desire to understand the “cause” they are working for. Top talent isn’t just looking for a job. They want to belong to something bigger.

Listening goes a long way

People want to feel listened to, they want to feel acknowledged, and they want to feel valued. Just listening can be the key reason very talented candidates choose to work for you.

Another panelist said, “When I am talking to talented people, I try to make sure they understand that they will have an opportunity to engage with all of the decision-makers. That they are going to be able to be on a first-name basis with the executives that are going to make all the decisions determining what direction we will choose to go in. The engagement piece that millennials need to feel is that they are not going to be lost in the environment they are working hard in.”

Listen to the employee’s needs and desires. Try to meet them in the middle and be transparent. Create personal connections early on and candid conversations, and your company will stand out from the crowd.

Culture is a part of the brand

“When working with companies, I notice that many of them are not just selling the culture but they are selling the brand to potential employees,” said Spellmeyer. “What do you see as something to think of from a branding perspective to make sure people are portraying things correctly across the board?”

One CEO chimes in, “It all turns back to our values. It’s important to make sure it’s all on strategy. We try to speak early on about our culture and our values. It’s all about talking about who we are, why we are the way we are, and what our values are. Branding starts with how we behave, because culture is really the way we do things around here, so that is the brand.”

Hosting a company picnic, running a co-ed kickball team, sitting down for lunch, or encouraging employees to join organizations is the definition of culture and in turn is your company’s brand. Why? Because employees are the product. Their minds and knowledge create quality products and services. Having a great culture results in having a great brand that consumers want to be a part of.

Link marketing to recruiting for maximum impact. Recruiting departments cannot operate in a vacuum, but must ensure that every manager is selling a consistent message to potential employees.

Bottom line

Whether you are in engineering or consulting, these strategies can be applied across the board and they work. Companies today are competing for great talent, and practicing retention will keep that talent. Finding the right person with the right skill set that fits into the culture is hard to find. Take the time to nurture your current employees. Don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk.

In a tight labor market, it is very important that employers keep abreast of rising wages, but retention is an even more complex equation.

For more information, please contact Julie at 864-242-3491. 

Photo provided by ThoroughlyReviewed.


Related Articles