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10 Retention Tips: How to Keep Your Employees Engaged

The following is a guest article from SMART Conversations.

1. Give your employees challenging assignments.

Unchallenged employees will eventually leave. Once boredom sets in and people feel they are stagnating in their careers, they detach. And, when an employee feels detached, they stop caring, which leads to a loss of productivity and low-quality work product. By giving them increasingly challenging projects, they will evolve their skillsets, feel challenged and be more loyal to your organization.

2. Give your employees a pathway to promotion.

Many smaller to mid-sized organizations do not have clear career paths. Without a roadmap, how will your employees and you know where they are going and what’s required to get them there? By creating formal pathways to promotion, workers will have clear goals and expectations they need to meet to be considered for their next
position ...  which will also give them a reason to stay.

3. Show appreciation and acknowledge their contributions.

Everyone likes praise and recognition-- even if they won’t admit it publicly. Who among us can deny that recognition makes us feel good about ourselves. Ignoring an employee’s need to be thanked or acknowledged in some way can lead to feelings of worthlessness and be demotivating.

Don’t be stingy with praise— spread it around.

4. Trust and empower your employees.

Few managerial styles are more demotivating than micromanagement. It breeds distrust and disrespect. Managers who insist on approving every single thing an employee produces and questions every decision they make risk alienating their staff.

On the flip side, a manager who never checks in with their employees, fails to provide feedback, and gives unclear instructions sends the message that they are unimportant. Build trust and initiative by empowering your employees.

5. Provide regular feedback.

No one wants to work in a vacuum. Employees need to know whether they are on or off track with their assignments and where they stand in terms of the quality of their work. Feedback should be frequent, direct, and balance candor with caring. When an employee has a clear understanding of what they did well/could improve upon, they leave the conversation feeling respected.

6. Give them a reasonable workload.

An overwhelmed employee can become unproductive, stressed out, confused, upset, and focused on unimportant tasks.

Overachievers, in particular, will not admit they are overworked. They will simply work harder until they burn out. To avoid this, managers need to plan workloads carefully, keep communication lines open, help with prioritization and check in frequently.

7. Connect their role to the organizational strategy.

Employees need to understand their connection to the vision, mission, and goals of your organization. If they do not understand their purpose and where they fit in, they will not derive meaning from their role and will miss the contextual relevance of the bigger picture. Knowing how they interact with other departments, teams and individuals will give them a good understanding of their role in the organization.

8. Be in alignment with your words and values.

Some organizations live their values and others post them on the wall in the lobby. It is not enough to be able to recite your values, they need to be embedded in everything people do and say.

When an organization is out of alignment with its values, trust erodes. For example, an organization that has “our employees are our greatest asset” as their #1 value and then lays off 10% of their workforce every fourth quarter without warning destroys trust.

9. Ensure the competence of managers and leaders.

Supervisors who don’t know how to lead, be fair, show respect and engage with their employees on a personal level risk alienating those they manage. Approximately 49% of people leave their jobs because they do not respect their supervisor and/or they are micromanaged. Managers need to be qualified, trained for their leadership role, and emotionally intelligent.

10. Create and support an inclusive, values-based culture.

According to a report by Deloitte, 72% of employees in the U.S. would leave their current organization for one with a more inclusive culture. In addition, a survey conducted by Hays revealed that 50% of employees are actively looking for a new job. Employees want to work for organizations that reflect their core values, are diverse and welcoming, and include all voices.

Keeping employees engaged is essential to getting them to stay. Providing managers with the communications training they need to nurture employees will retain talent and create a high-trust culture for employees to thrive.

Looking for more insights on retention?

Our learning programs have supported over 20,000 leaders to develop themselves and their teams to thrive.

Browse SMART Conversations courses

About the Authors

Authors Michele Simos and Paul Weisman are organizational development experts who are committed to helping companies develop and sustain employee-centered cultures where everyone feels included, valued, and respected. You can reach them at or +1 617-413-4291.

Last updated: 08 Nov 2021

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