The Two Secrets of Retaining Great Employees

Help people succeed and feel fulfilled in their jobs.
Written by Jim McCann, David Spader and Dr. Michael O’Connor
Spader Business Management

How important is it to the ongoing stability and growth of your business that you retain key employees?

  1. Not Important
  2. Somewhat Important
  3. Very Important

If you answered “A,” it is likely you don’t appreciate the value of your employees. And if so, we recommend that you seek significant coaching from a qualified resource to capitalize on effective management practices since you are likely losing good employees – or their productivity.

If you answered “B,” it is likely you have a partial understanding of the need to retain employees. As a result, you may have some unwanted turnover or lower productivity.

If you answered “C,” it is likely that you value employees and the rest of this article will help you retain and capitalize on them since you already understand the importance of employee motivation.

There are many retention techniques, incentives and recognition practices advocated by different sources – some more qualified than others. We have found that optimizing employee contributions boils down to the two outcomes found in our PRO-daptive® Total Leadership and Management Model: Success and Fulfillment.

Secret Number 1:  A Successful Career

When companies help employees succeed, employee commitment to the organization increases. That commitment results in the best employees staying with your business longer. Career success is characterized by the achievement of goals, productivity and increasing competence. Continuing improvement is critical to the ongoing performance, confidence and self-esteem of employees.

Research by Fredrick Herzberg more than 50 years ago, and replicated numerous times since, has shown that the best long-term motivator is achievement. We see this every day in the sports world with athletes seeking out winning teams and coaches known for optimizing talent. As a manager or supervisor, you should be asking yourself the following questions regularly to keep your employees:

What can I do to make this employee more successful in his or her role?

How good are my managers and I at this?

Secret Number 2:  A Fulfilling Career

The second secret to retaining employees is ensuring they have a fulfilling career demonstrated by a passion for their jobs and a work environment characterized by high morale, respect, strong relationships and commitment. This starts with effective hiring practices that put the right people in the right jobs, and continues when managers and coworkers truly care about each other’s well-being and demonstrate it on a frequent basis.

Herzberg’s research also identified recognition as the second-strongest motivator for employees. This is demonstrated by the “home team advantage” in sports. People tend to have greater success when they are more valued by others and encouraged by them.

If you are a manager, you should be asking the following questions regularly:
What can I do to make my employees have a more satisfying and fulfilling work experience here?
How good are my managers and I at this?

Where to Start

We recommend you start with employees in key positions. In most organizations, a relatively small percentage of the jobs are critical for ongoing business performance. These are the positions that have a significant impact on the satisfaction of customers and the productivity of other employees.

Dispatchers are a good example of this because they constantly interact with sales, service, drivers and customers. If they aren’t successful and fulfilled in their jobs, that negativity and/or incompetence can spread throughout the entire operation.

While working to improve the success and fulfillment of employees in your operation, don’t forget to make sure you have discussions about what employees aspire to. Many managers avoid this conversation because the career ladder in a motorcoach operation may have only a couple of rungs.

Ask yourself, “Would I prefer to know that an employee is interested in advancing their career after they submit their resignation or before that happens so I can do something about it?”

We have coached many managers in how to keep their highest performing employees by having open and candid conversations about the future. In many cases, a manager will help to develop and prepare the employees for the next level by sharing duties. In return, they help retain a very good employee much longer than expected.

Every business should understand that if you have managers that deliver a workplace characterized by fulfilling and successful careers, you will also attract other great employees who want to be part of a winning team. What do you need to do to make your employees more successful and fulfilled, and build such a valuable business?