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How to hire with a retention mindset and keep your current employees

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

By Susan Burns & Amanda Burns

I hear it every day from our clients “Employees don’t value their job anymore”, “Our previous employee just resigned without notice because he didn’t like constructive criticism”, “People don’t want to work”, “People now are only chasing salary and don’t care about the company”. These are just some of the reasons CEOs give regarding their turnover and hiring difficulties. Is this true? Being a recruiter/headhunter, I have the privilege of speaking with over 100 candidates every month. I make it a priority to get critical information on why they are leaving their current employer and what they are looking for in a new company, so they will remain with them long-term. Two prevailing themes have arisen when asking candidates why they left their previous company: senior management and coworker relationships.

People leave people

You have probably heard this many times before, but it is true. Over and over they say they are leaving because they “want change”. However, most of the time, the new job is very similar in title and responsibilities to the one they are leaving. So what is this change they are seeking?

According to SHRM's Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: The Doors of Opportunity are Open research report, employees identified the top five leading contributors to job satisfaction. Out of these five factors, senior management is alluded to twice with the first and third factor:

1. Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels.

2. Compensation/pay.

3. Trust between employees and senior management.

4. Job security.

5. Opportunities to use their skills and abilities at work.

A Work Family

The second quality employees look for, is a new home and family. People do consider the people they work with, their “work family”. It is important to enjoy the people you work with and be comfortable with them. Nearly everyone I speak to about what they are looking for in a new environment respond with “a great team” and “a respectful, fun environment”. We all know how much time we spend at work. We want to enjoy it and love the people we work with like family. Employees want to be treated with respect and laugh every day.

Tips for limiting turnover by increasing positive communication

ASK. Have a trusted, impartial colleague (usually HR) meet with each employee or send out a confidential survey. Ask questions such as: What do you love about your job/organization? What changes would you like to see occur? Why do you stay with the organization? What is one thing that if it changed, would make you leave the organization?

LISTEN. Listen to what they say, share the information confidentially with anyone that is necessary to make change occur.

COMMUNICATE. That you have heard them and are willing to make changes. Some answers may be tough to hear, but you can’t make changes if you don’t know what the issues are. Also, tell them why you may not be able to make certain changes at this time and explain why.

ACT. Show that you heard by making the changes that you are able to immediately if necessary.

FOLLOW UP. Reach back out periodically (no more than 2-3 months) to see how it is going and if the changes made a difference.

Having a good retention plan and knowing your culture will help when hiring new employees. Also, it is crucial to make sure you have a great onboarding program for new employees. New employees should be given a mentor (maybe a more senior person) that welcomes them and can act as a sounding board for questions and concerns by the new employee. This mentor will make them comfortable within the team and their new environment. Studies show that people do not leave organizations when they like the people they work with and feel embedded in the organization. Fun team building exercises, outside activities, community events, etc. can help with team bonding as well. Employees who feel heard, feel respected. Chances are, you will learn something that you didn’t know was happening in your company and now you will have the chance to address any prevailing themes before there is a mass exodus.

A few last words...

Positive interpersonal connections within your company are crucial in keeping turnover low. The recruiting industry is growing and headhunters like me are reaching out to employees every day. A happy employee will turn us down and an unhappy employee will interview with our clients. What will your employees do?

Burns Recruitment is here for your recruiting needs. Recruiting and employee retention is more complicated now than ever. We analyze candidate’s long-term needs in order to reduce turnover and boost employee satisfaction.

Contact us at: 609-501-7272 or


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