Keeping Your Best Employees

How can employers establish routine practices essential to a culture of engagement?

By David Cox, SHRM-SCP | September 11, 2018


Employers typically want to keep their best employees, improve the retention rates, and reduce the costs associated with employee turnover and replacement. Every study I’ve reviewed on this subject indicates that effectively engaging employees is the key to retaining the best people.

There are numerous strategies and programs pitched to engage employees, but before you spend a lot of money on consultants and packaged applications, I hope you’ll consider what you and your management team can do on a day-to-day basis to create a culture of engagement in your workplace.

I am convinced that including the following elements will support a culture of engagement that will help you retain your best employees.


There’s nothing more fundamental to developing loyal, productive, and engaged employees than good communication. If you’re having trouble keeping good employees, the simplest thing you can do is to start talking with, rather than to your people.

Solicit the opinions of your employees and listen to their feedback. Ask them for recommendations concerning production, safety, systems, processes, and any aspect of your operations for which you would like to see improvement. If they are directly involved in these areas, their input could prove invaluable. Moreover, they will remember that you respected them enough to ask for their ideas and will take pride in their contribution to the business.

Management style

Are you a leader or a driver?

Employers who are drivers disregard others. They consume people as a means to their end and are known for their high employee turnover.

Employers who are leaders value their people and encourage them to be successful. These leaders appreciate double-digit numbers representing how many years their employees have been with them, and the financial stability of their business.

Employee development

Employee development pays operational and motivational dividends. It charts a course from knowledge, to self-confidence and from self-confidence to leadership, which inspires employee loyalty, then customer loyalty, all of which will hopefully build the business’s bottom line and your bank account. How’s that for a straight line to return-on-investment?


There is a story told about a robin who saw a turtle sitting on top of a fence post. The robin stopped and asked the turtle, “How did you get up there.” The turtle replied, “Obviously, not by myself.”

When talking about what your company has accomplished, share the credit. In your verbal and written communications, you need to replace “I” with “we.” This tiny 2-letter pronoun is a powerful verbal high-five that resonates with motivational energy throughout your organization.


The strategic factors listed above will prove useful if those responsible are informed, trained, and held accountable for this effort. It calls for frontline employers and managers to focus on the human beings with whom they work and what is necessary to help them to become more successful.

Once you’ve established a culture of engagement in your organization, the benefits of this effort typically include reductions in turnover and better employee relations. But perhaps the most significant benefits come with improvements in customer service, continuing to build a good reputation with your target audience, and better overall business outcomes.

David Cox


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