Are You at Risk of Losing Your Best Employees? Your Answers to These 5 Questions Can Give You a Clue

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On February 22, 2016

5QuestionsFinding quality employees is one of the most important building blocks of any successful, growing business. In Scaling Up Business: The Rockefeller Habits 2.0 you can red about the importance of “getting the right people in the right seats on the bus.” But it’s not just getting the right people on the bus that’s important. Keeping them on the bus is essential.

Losing key players is incredibly expensive. In addition to the money you spend to hire new people, you also have the expense of training them. Even that can pale compared to the “soft” costs of lost time and lost intellectual/corporate knowledge. So how do you keep your best employees?

Here are five questions to consider. How you answer is probably a good indication of how well you’ll do at retaining the kind of employee you want on your team.

1. Do Your Treat Employees Like Team Members or Mushrooms?
We all know the lament of employees who complain, “They treat me like a mushroom. They keep me in the dark and . . .” (well, you know the rest). Let’s focus on the “keep me in the dark” aspect. Too often companies don’t give employees the big picture. They don’t see how the task or project they’re working on contributes to the overall success of the company. Motivated employees like to know that they are part of something bigger then themselves. Keep the BIG goal in front of them and remind them that they are a vital part of making it happen.

2. Do You Treat All Employees the Same?
Sometimes business leaders confuse treating all employees with the same dignity with treating all employees the same. Not all employees have the same responsibilities. Not all employees have the same work ethic. Not all employees are driven to go the extra mile. If you treat everyone the same, where’s the incentive to excel? Some workers will do it for a while (because that’s how they are wired). But eventually good workers migrate to a place where their (extra) efforts in creativity are rewarded.

3. Is Poor Performance Permitted?
Tolerating poor performance is sort of like the other side of the “treating everyone the same” coin. An outstanding employee who sees his or her efforts undermined by someone else’s poor performance won’t stick around. I’m not suggesting a “no tolerance” policy on mistakes. Mistakes happen. But consistently under-performing not only affects your bottom line in the short run—it can also drive good employees away if they fear their contributions will be nullified because of someone else’s poor performance.

4. Is Outstanding Performance Rewarded?
This is actually the opposite of treating all employees the same. Sure, good work deserves good (fair) pay. But what about when someone goes above and beyond the call of duty? That’s something that should not only be rewarded, but also celebrated. It’s infectious. It’s more enjoyable to be part of a great team. Not every reward has to be monetary (although you should never underestimate the power of that kind of reward). Sometimes recognition is key. Sometimes the reward is additional responsibility (with additional compensation).

5. Are Your Employees Having Fun?
Hard work and fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Don’t get me wrong: Work isn’t all fun and games. There’s a time to put your head down and grind things out. But there should be something mixed in to provide a bit of a respite. Many of us think about what some start-ups in Silicon Valley do for their employees. But I’m not suggesting that you do what Google does—or anyone else. “Forced Fun” is really not much fun. Instead, consider the things that your employees like to do. What makes the workplace fun for them? Maybe it’s not foosball tables and juice bars. Let them tell you what would help them to blow off steam and be reinvigorated. Ask them!

Of course these aren’t the only things that create a positive corporate culture. But these five questions are a good place to start when you consider how to keep your best employees “on the bus.”