How to Retain Good Employees, Part 2

Norb Slowikowski

October 2005

In the last two months we have been talking about the guideline that needs to be established in order to retain good employees and how to maintain a positive work climate so that people will be more likely to become self-motivated and sustain their good work habits. So far we discussed four of the six essential areas that will help in accomplishing these goals; this month finish with the last two areas.

Area #5: Positive reinforcement. This is giving people positive feedback for doing good work. It’s the concept of finding somebody doing something right and letting them know you appreciate it. There is a leadership principle that says, "When you reinforce positive behavior, it tends to repeat itself.”

When giving positive feedback, make sure the following three elements are included:

Be specific. Rather than say "Your quality is good,” say the following: "On your last three jobs there was no rework, and I want you to know that you have made a positive contribution to the profitability of the job.”

Be timely. The best time to give positive feedback is right away. As you’re walking the job and see somebody doing something right, give specific, positive feedback right away. When you see it, say it.

Be relevant. Don’t just toss compliments around. Make sure you’re giving positive feedback for positive actions that enhance the overall success of the job. It’s giving feedback to an employee who has improved his/her performance on a specific productivity factor such as safety, teamwork or utilizing tools and equipment effectively. Positive reinforcement helps make people feel good about themselves, which probably will result in their staying with the company.

Area #6: Improving worker motivation. There are many things you can do to facilitate worker motivation and create the desire for people to stay with the company; here are some of them:

-Increase pay as an employee’s skill improves or when he takes on more responsibility.
-Clearly explain what you expect of people, and follow up to ensure they are meeting expectations.
-Provide coaching if the employee is not sure of how to do something, or if he is having difficulty performing an assigned task.
-Remove the barriers that have a negative impact on employee performance and morale.
-Encourage feedback so that negative situations can be dealt with right away.
-Let employees work without interference.
-Give employees all of the resources they need to do their job effectively.
-Provide ongoing feedback on employee performance.
-Let people know how important they are—without them, you couldn’t succeed.

All in all, the most important lesson to take away from this article is that the retention of good employees is not a given. It is up to the employer to make sure the workplace is conducive to employee satisfaction.

Retaining good employees leads to a real sense of teamwork. When workers know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, they establish a willingness to help one another. By having little or no turnover on the job, you also reap the benefits of not having to pay the hidden costs of employee dissatisfaction and poor morale. The challenge: Establish and implement a game plan for employee retention.

About the Author
Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill.