Benefits & Compensation

Inspire and Retain Your Best Employees

Inspire and Retain Your Best Employees

Chances are your best employees are ambitious self-starters with great problem-solving skills. But beware: The people who possess these qualities aren't likely to stick around unless their needs and expectations are being met. Learn how to challenge, inspire and ultimately retain your best employees for the long haul.

By Tara Remiasz


Adamchik responded to this information by placing the lance corporal on emergency leave, setting him up with counseling and directing him to financial assistance organizations. Now, 20 years later, the lance corporal is still an enlisted Marine, Adamchik says.

As a leader, Adamchik did what it took to retain a valuable part of his team. A good boss should be able to support his employees during the most difficult of circumstances. But for many business owners, it’s not dramatic circumstances that challenge their employees’ loyalty; it’s failure to fulfill very basic employee-employer interactions. Seventy to 80 percent of people say they quit their jobs because of a bad boss, says Terry Bacon, president of Lore International Institute, which is headquartered in Durango, Colo., and Zurich, Switzerland. “People don’t quit companies, they quit a bad boss,” he says.

Learn how to create an environment that your employees will value and appreciate for years to come.

Recognition is Key
In some cases, managers who frequently recognize their workers’ contributions have half the employee turnover rates of other managers, according to Chester Elton, senior vice president of The Carrot Culture Group, O.C. Tanner Company, headquartered in Salt Lake City. However, simply recognizing an employee’s contributions doesn’t go far enough. Effective reinforcement needs to be frequent, specific and timely, he says.

Frequency—The more often a manager gives recognition, the better, says Elton. Saying ‘I love you’ in your personal life is like saying ‘thank you’ in your professional life—you can never say it too much, he says.

Specific—“General praise has no impact,” he says. Be sure to highlight the specific action that warranted recognition. “Say ‘hey, I really appreciate you staying a little bit later,’” he says.

Timely—The longer you wait to praise someone for specific actions, the less impact it will have on them. Reinforce positive behavior by telling workers that you appreciate their actions right after they happen. Don’t wait until holiday bonus time or their birthdays to tell them they are valued.

It’s a Generation Thing
Also keep in mind that different generations of workers typically require different kinds of recognition. Generation Y workers, also known as the Millennial Generation (born between 1980 and 2000), have a greater need to feel valued than their predecessors in Generation X, according to Bacon. “Like no other generation, it’s crucial that you recognize their accomplishments. They want feedback and are eager to learn, but they hunger for recognition,” according to Bacon. Millennials have this attitude because they were raised in a very “child-centric period,” he says.

Conversely, Gen Xers have little loyalty toward institutions. Rather, they work for themselves, for their teams and for a boss whom they respect, he states. “Nearly 60 percent of Gen Xers say they want a manager to “respect their space,” while baby boomers care more about ‘sharing basic values’ with their higher-ups,” according to Bacon.

Trust is Essential
Ninety percent of workers say that honesty, fairness and trust are their primary needs from a manager, according to a survey of 500 employees that was conducted by Bacon.

No matter the generation, trust and honesty are an absolute must for a worker to stay at a particular company. Creating trust goes beyond just being honest with employees, Adamchik says. “It’s more than just telling the truth, it’s living up to your commitments,” he says. Essentially, don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.