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Ask Dr. Sharkey: How do I Stop Satisfied Employees From Leaving?

Posted by EmployeeChannel on 11.8.2018



“As you know, Dr. Sharkey, the job market has split wide open in the last few years. The number of passive job seekers is up, and my company keeps taking major hits. I post surveys, implement a fun company culture, and encourage work-life balance, but I continue losing quality employees. If this keeps happening, our bottom line will take a hit due to expensive recruiting costs. What can I do to ensure my seemingly-satisfied employees stay put?”

This is a tough, but important subject. Many companies are reeling from low-unemployment rates. An incredibly high number of job seekers are passive, meaning recruiters are doing everything in their power to sway currently-employed candidates to their companies.

When employees realize this, they become naturally curious. If you’re not actively and intentionally focusing on your company culture, mission, and values, it’ll be challenging for you to inspire team members to stay.

So, no matter how satisfied and engaged your employees may seem, you need to take the following items into consideration before losing any more quality talent:

Analyze your company culture

First and foremost you need to take a step back and seriously look at your company culture. Ask yourself:

  • What does our company culture look like from an employee’s viewpoint?
    • Does this differ from my intentions or what I initially thought it was?

To answer these deeply critical questions, you need facts -- not assumptions. Get to the truth by implementing a valid and reliable cultural assessment. Be careful not to confuse this with an employee engagement survey. In this case, engagement surveys will point you in a vague direction but won’t drive you to specific company culture answers.

Here’s where you need to start:

  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • Do you feel positive, negative, or indifferent about the current state of the company culture?
  • What’s your favorite aspect of the company culture?
  • What’s your least favorite aspect of the company culture?
  • If you were in charge, what would you do to improve the overall status of our company culture?

Once you discover the general consensus to these questions, you can be a catalyst for change. Employees who see their leaders concerned, listening, and taking action based specifically on their opinions will feel connected and motivated to stay dedicated to your team.

Define company values

Having company values in place doesn’t mean everyone in the organization understands them -- or even knows they’re there. Persuading employees to stay put is a major challenge if they don’t understand how the company’s behaviors, as a whole, represent its values.

For leaders, it comes down to practice what you preach. You need to first ensure employees know what the company’s values are. Then, it’s time for you to take intentional actions, showing you take each value into account when promoting employees throughout the organization.

When values are left undefined, employees may interpret leaders’ actions as unfair and even toxic. The more actions viewed this way, the more negative attitudes permeate into the company’s foundation. Unstable foundations are then left to crumble when recruiters come knocking on your team members’ doors.

Determine solutions

Once you’ve discovered the facts behind employees’ views on company culture, and they understand your values, it’s time to determine solutions. The goal of these solutions is to make employees feel their feedback hasn’t gone unnoticed and to give seemingly-happy employees concrete reasons to remain on your team.

Look back to employee feedback to find solutions that are specific to your organizational needs, implement them, and stay the course. When leaders get too busy, it’s easy to fall away from company culture and value-based goals, but they’re what will hold everything together when new and shiny job offers are presented to your employees.

Stay on track by keeping tabs on your progress. Remember, this is an ongoing process that needs to be built into your company leadership approach and DNA. The best employee retention strategy is based on dedicated leaders and an impressive company culture that withstands the test of time.


Dr. Linda Sharkey is a best-selling author and in-demand speaker and coach. She is dedicated to helping businesses prepare for the future and developing leaders and teams to support company growth.

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Topics: ask dr. sharkey

Human Resources Today