With Employee Retention More Important Than Ever, Making Them Feel Valued is Key.

Dr. Nelson, Dr. Garlick share advice on achieving that at the WorkProud Webinar

Employee Retention More Important Than Ever

Not that long ago, says employee engagement expert Rick Garlick, the biggest question he faced was, “How can I better engage employees for the purpose of driving my customer satisfaction forward?”

Not anymore. “That’s been replaced by the question, ‘How do I retain my employees?’” he said. “How do I retain my best talent and attract top talent when it seems it’s so hard to do these days?”

Bob Nelson, another expert in the field, agreed. “The number one need in companies today is how do I hold on to employees,” he said. “We’re in a severe shortage of skilled labor even without the pandemic. We already were at a shortage of people given the demographics, and not just people but people who have the skills that you need.”

Dr. Nelson, whose books include Recognizing and Engaging Employees for Dummies, and Dr. Garlick, a consultant who has worked for the Gallup Organization, J.D. Power and others, offered sage advice to address those questions at the monthly WorkProud webinar on February 16.

A video of the entire webinar is available here. Some of the highlights include:

  • The transition to a service economy has made worker retention even more crucial. “When we lived in a manufacturing economy, when people walked out the door you could bring in new people to push the buttons,” Garlick said. “Now when people leave organizations they take that intellectual capital out the door. If you can cut the turnover rate by, say, 20 percent, you literally can save the company millions of dollars in turnover costs.”
  • Making employees feel valued is paramount. “For every manager in their sphere of influence, that means they’re doing the things that connect their people more strongly to them, to the group and to the organization,” Nelson said. “The ripple effect will change the environment and the culture of your organization.”
  • Start right away. “From the first day in the job, I think the onus is on the manager to say, ‘Hey, of all of the places you could have worked, what was is about working here that most excited you?’” Nelson said. “Find out what their motivation is. Where do they want to be? Where do they want to go? If you make this more a career than a job, people will be sticking around, and it starts with the first conversation.”
  • Then keep it up. “It’s critical for managers to spend a minimum of one hour per quarter with their employees,” Garlick said, “We’d obviously like more than that. People who say they can’t do that probably have too many employees to manage.”

Employee Retention More Important Than Ever

Nelson upped the ante. “I’d say a one-on-one meeting weekly, connecting with each person that works with you to check on how things are going, he said. “Then that becomes part of the ongoing relationship you’ve got with your manager.”

  • It’s not just about money. “Of course, money’s on the list,“ Nelson said. “But for most professionals, once they’re able to pay their bills and live their standard of living, their focus moves to other things than money, like being part of the team, being valued by their management. You can’t just hope they feel valued, or assume that because were paying them well, that’s recognition enough.”

Garlick said his research has found that although compensation “is a form of recognition, people will sacrifice money for meaningful work and a culture they enjoy. I can be proud of my work that I do, but I can take that work somewhere else. The thing we see as most important is the pride they have in their company.”

  • Don’t assume no negativity equals positivity. “There’s the attitude of too many managers that If I’m not telling you you’re not doing anything wrong, assume everything’s fine,” Garlick said. “People need much more than a paycheck to feel good about their job.”

Nelson concurred. “You’ve got to be proactive, not reactive,” he said. “Some of the behaviors we know are important to employees, at the top of the list is being told you’re doing good work. There are lots of ways to thank people. You’ve got to get in the game and make that happen…people want feedback.”

  • Motivational behaviors don’t have to cost a lot. Nelson’s checklist includes: Thank them when they do good work; Provide authentic 2-way communication; ask employees for their input and ideas; Provide autonomy and support; Involve them with decision-making; Help them with career development; Support them when a mistake is made.
  • Don’t assume you know the answers. “Get in their head and find out what is important to them and how they want to be recognized,” Nelson said. That can come from surveys, focus groups or simple interactions. Managers, he said, “often think they have the answers to questions they haven’t asked. Stop feeling you know and ask people and get to the source.’
  • A recognition platform – such as WorkProud – is crucial. “As we try different things, we can measure the impact. You’ve got to track it along the way,” Nelson said. “If you have a platform that tracks when people are recognized publicly or privately, we can correlate the people being recognized with their performance and their retention.”

Employee Retention More Important Than Ever

WorkProud presents a monthly webinar, hosted by CEO Michael Levy and featuring experts on workplace issues from around the country. It’s always free, and there’s usually a great giveaway just for taking part. Watch for details about upcoming sessions in our monthly newsletter. If you don’t already subscribe, sign up here.



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