5 Signs You’re in a Dead-End Relationship With Your Employees and What to Do About It

Paul Simon knew, there must be “50 Ways to Leave your Lover”. But painful relationships are not confined to romance; they occur in today’s workplace, surfacing as disengagement and apathy in the daily grind of work. They also can be avoided. If we recognize the signs of a dead end employer-employee relationship and what workforce strategies employers can launch, we can bring the magic back.

Bringing the Magic Back to Workforce Strategy

Unless you’re from the future, you employ people not robots. So the five symptoms of a dead end employer-employee relationship are similar to romantic human relationships stuck in neutral and going nowhere.

  1. Boredom

Really look at your employees while working. Do they look like they would rather be somewhere, anywhere, else? If your employees lack the enthusiasm to care, the job is misaligned, or the managers do not have the skills to motivate. Boredom is your red flag that productivity in the company is about to decline. Don’t count on Employee ROI going higher this quarter. Or get some robots.

  1. Frustration

Is the team with you, or opposing you at every turn? Resistance means managers and employees are not on the same wavelength when it comes to workforce strategy. Successful companies leverage impatience into urgency to drive change and excitement in the work. Impatience is not frustration. Playing devil’s advocate or pushing for continuous improvement is not the same as feeling annoyed or angry that underpins contempt. In many situations, frustration also signals a lack of cohesiveness among peers. Not a problem with robots. Just saying.

  1. Cheating

Often covert, lack of desire to work together manifests in many ways. A manager may long to recruit other people or fail to advocate for their direct reports to get new projects. Alternately, employees look for greener grass and start quietly plying their networks for new opportunities. Many times, workers are provoked to look elsewhere out of fear or lack of trust in their employer. Signs of an employee’s drop in loyalty in a hot job market include searching for open positions on the sly  during lunchtime or unexplained absences are a major sign their job is about to get dumped.

  1. Isolation

Avoiding communication with a manager is a fire alarm that the good will has stopped flowing within the workforce strategy. While some amount of workplace communications inevitably fail due to time constraints, voicemail, emails, text messages, and meeting requests that consistently receive no response show a lack of commitment. If you hear nothing, say something.

  1. Unclear future

During performance appraisals, a conversation based solely on the past reinforces an employee who does not have future in the company. Employees who are hard pressed to articulate a career trajectory at the organization may feel stuck. People don’t like to feel stuck for long, so they leave. In those cases, the career path may be too near sighted to illustrate a future employee-employer relationship. And clearly, the future is robots.


Workforce Strategy Employee Retention Idea #44: Get Specific

Many companies attempt to use employee surveys and end up confused or overwhelmed, leading them to question if surveys really work. Many are concerned about employees responding truthfully or at all. Other fear that surveys may adeptly identify problems without leading to solutions. But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.

Employee surveys are a delicate art that, when done correctly, will point companies to the right workforce strategy. The key is in phrasing the question the right way. Keep your questions as direct, clean, and simple as possible to gauge where exactly the gaps are when it comes to productivity and trust. Try breaking down each question to its smallest units instead of using long, descriptive questions that get at multiple items. Retensa took years to hone a validated commitment survey because every nuance matters. Relationships in and out of the workplace are all about the details; if a problem can be located, a workforce strategy solution can be crafted.

To get out of employee relationship gridlock, email requests@retensa.com to speak with a survey specialist. We’re here to bring the love back, one survey at a time.


How to Keep the Love Alive in a Long Distance Relationship with your Workforce

The advent of remote work brings with it a set of challenges. As speed, flexibility, and collaboration become the bottlenecks of today’s workplace, a whole new set of norms exist now. Companies looking to build a high performance culture confront the challenge of sustaining employee motivation without face to face interaction. How can employers make sure their employees stay in love with their work and the company, despite being in a long distance, remote relationship? Employee surveys that measure appreciation and engagement are the key to keeping the love alive.

Employee Motivation at a Distance: Success Story

For those who believe that out of sight always equals out of mind, consider the case of Collage.com, which successfully motivates a 100% remote workforce. In this Glassdoor article, CEO Joe Golden recounts the drivers of his culture’s success. Although meetings occur over videoconferencing, one-on-one and team meetings are “extremely frequent.”[1] Curiously, Golden hints at what has made this strategy a success,

Remote work isn’t a good fit for anyone who isn’t a strong communicator since it’s even more important to communicate well when everyone isn’t in the same physical office. It’s also important for anyone who works in a remote setting to be self-motivated since there’s no one physically with you to ensure you stay on task.[2]

His words highlight the role that recruiting to retain plays in employee motivation. Here, an understanding of the type of employee that will do well in this environment drives positive outcomes. They get it right from the beginning by investing a great deal of energy in the recruiting and onboarding process. New hires spend extensive effort and time in the first weeks in direct interaction with teammates and supervisors.[3]

Survey Indicators to Boost Employee Motivation

Employee surveys make the difference between what you think is going on, and a clear understanding of work culture and level of employee motivation. They increase the depth of this knowledge by articulating the workforce’s state of appreciation and engagement. While every company has a different way of understanding itself, appreciation and engagement are universal gauges to predict success (two commitment indicators in CAPLET survey methodology).

Appreciation is the first sign that employees feel heard and valued. A lack of appreciation towards any element of the work environment directly impacts how employees perceive the value of their productivity. Whether it be working long hours, volunteering for a hard project, or improving collaboration skills, it is best to reinforce behavior through recognition of their efforts. As most communication is non-verbal, companies lack the data to know how much their employees feel appreciation. And in a long distance relationship, it is even more crucial for appreciation to be a part of the company culture. One indispensable insight managers need to know when managing a remote workforce is to validate how each and every employee is important to getting the job done, and measuring their efforts through employee surveys.

Long distance relationships dissolve if we don’t engage one another. That is why engagement is the second key to managing remote employees. To determine how employees feel about workload and how meaningful they believe it to be, we measure it. This way, managers can use that information to better support the actual work being done. The goal in any relationship is to see if there is enough magic to advance to the next level. So are you moving in (i.e. finding opportunities for advancement) or moving out (i.e. quitting)? Direction and intention is a hard thing to judge in the interview process, as even potential slacker candidates will put on their best performance. Employee surveys determine if management has gone all-in when it comes to making sure their teams are at peak and engaged to the fullest.

Employee Retention Idea #46: The 2 Minute Remote Worker Hug

It’s easy to take remote workers for granted. Asking meaningful questions keeps a long distance relationship healthy. Whether it’s a validated Commitment Survey, or taking 2 minutes to ask your remote employee “How can I help you?” or “What can we provide to successfully launch this project?” – take the time now before you find yourself speed dating for a new replacement.  While any human relationship happening at a distance is going to face some challenges, focused and support of remote work can offer tremendous benefit to a company’s workforce morale. For tricks to keep the employee motivation flame burning with your long distance workers, email requests@retensa.com.


[1] Jackson, Amy Elisa. (2017, March 20). How One CEO Successfully Built A 100% Remote Workforce. Glassdoor. [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/collage-com-ceo/

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.


Posted: 5/26/2017

4 Employee Retention Tools We Learned from Shark Tank

Popular ABC TV show Shark Tank is a prototype for what is possibly the world’s best recruitment process. While many viewers tune in for entertainment, witnessing the frenzy of action provides valuable insight on how to recruit and retain high performing employees. Here are four real-world retention lessons from Shark Tank. These expose some of the most powerful employee retention tools on land.

1: Selling the  Opportunity

In the absence of presenting value, the wall of sharks are impenetrable. Once the Sharks pick up the scent of opportunity, the tide quickly turns. Acting as if the employee is the prey, Kevin O’Leary, aka “Mr. Wonderful,” turns on the charm once he smells money in the water. All of a sudden the dynamic reverses and he pitches all the benefits he can give (e.g. special attention, connections, resources) to make an offer they can’t refuse.

Multi-million dollar payouts are not up for grabs in the day to day copier business or restaurant. However, employers will profit from making good use of this sales tactic with high performing employees. First, make it crystal clear what the company has to offer. As long as it is true, repeat it, over and over again. Then deliver it with pride. Treating employees like clients is an employee retention strategy that will ensure your fish never swim away.

2: Understanding True Commitment

Of all the aspects of a human relationship, commitment is the most delicate. The Sharks all screen for commitment during the questioning phase. Barbara Corcoran is especially skilled at finding out who has their heart truly in the business.  She knows that for people to weather the stormy seas of entrepreneurship requires sheer dedication.  At the first sign of feigned interest, she recasts the net. Never ensnared by appearances, she knows there are better fish in the sea.

In real life, every company strives for this shark sense. Not all measure up.  While the Sharks rely on primal instincts, employee retention tools can take the pulse of your staff’s commitment. Capturing innovative workplace dimensions like CAPLET directly measures commitment in the modern workplace.  With dynamic survey tools that work like a “company Fitbit”, we can monitor employee connectedness, appreciation, productivity, loyalty, engagement, and trust. No Shark needed.

3: Clarity of Purpose

The Sharks adeptly screen with questions that detect purpose. When a venture interests them, they ask “What are you going to do with the money?” or “Why are you here?” Taking the plunge without this screening, many Shark Tank deals fizzle after the show due to negotiations led awry from misalignment of mission, goals, or values.

In the mission to recruit and retain high performers, sharks and non-sharks can ensure that employee’s interests align with the company. When staff sees the company vision, they are significantly more likely to pursue it. When staff pursues it, the company is significantly more likely to achieve it. Connectedness, to the people, products, and vision, is one of the most powerful commitment indicators. This is an important factor to include when predicting turnover.

4: Recognize it is Not Always About the Money

If the Shark with the largest bait won every time, Shark Tank would not be real.  The Sharks recognize that money is not the only reason that entrepreneurs come to the show. Many need the guidance and direction that a strategic advisor can bring. Mark Cuban will bluntly ask, “What’s important to you? What do you need the most out of this deal?” You can see them listen in that moment, and determine their future on those words. For example, when there’s a beauty or household product deal that she is interested in, Lori Greiner restates the mentorship she brings when going to QVC and retail outlets. At times she wins with a lower bid just because of the intrinsic value of counseling she brings.

Successful employers know that employees aren’t always after the biggest paycheck. Benefits such as training, flexible work-life options, opportunity to play an influential role in product design, recognition, and true appreciation recruits and retains most top talent.

Employee Retention Idea #44

Treat employees like a customer. Take 5 minutes to ask 1 high potential employee: “Why are you here?” and “What is important to you?”

Identify your high potentials (and future leaders) by gauging how close they are to the mission of your company. In moments, we can connect the employee’s needs with the needs of the company. Or identify the gap to fill. Either way, we are better prepared to bring the greatest return on their investment.

Some people are famous for a reason. As commanders of some of the most recognized brands, the sharks certainly know the employee retention tactics frequently lacking in business. To take a deeper dive and put shark principles to work at your organization, contact requests@retensa.com.


5 Talent Retention Strategies We Learn from Cinco de Mayo

While most people associate Cinco de Mayo with carne asada, mariachi music, and a zesty tequila, there is a powerful allegory about the employee retention strategy behind all the festivities. These five enchiladas of wisdom revealed by the underdog victory at the Battle of Puebla offers strong insights intro talent retention strategies.

Talent Retention Strategies Hot Tamale #1: Know what You’re up Against

When the Mexicans triumphed over the French, it was a major upset. Not only were the French an undefeated military force, the Mexicans lacked both numbers and resources to defend themselves.[1] Did they cower in fear from this challenge, even though the odds were stacked against them? Spoiler alert…No.

They took to battle with an intelligent strategy which brought to life what may have seemed an impossible victory.[2]

To apply this history lesson to the modern day workforce, employers are fighting a battle to retain key employees in a hot economy. Yet many of them are fighting the war without knowing they are in one. Lacking data on the enemy, without a clear plan of action or program to guide them on the battlefield, talent consistently leaves. Is it for a higher salary? Many firms do not have a reliable method to capture what employees really values. It is a bloodbath when companies lack the proper HR metrics and retention programs to defend themselves. Having a full arsenal of diagnostic data and talent analytics is the first step to winning the war.

Talent Retention Strategies Hot Tamale #2: Foster a Culture of Commitment

To say that the Mexican army was a motley crew is an understatement. They were shabby and disheveled compared to their French counterparts. However, they were unified in their spirit.[3] Loyalty and Connectedness fortified their attack against a greater foe.

For organizations and startups who may be the small fish in el mar grande, how committed is your culture to triumph? In the present day, companies can achieve solidarity by using focused employee pulse surveys that determine whether or not workers are prepared to defend the organization’s well-being. Gain insights into how Connected and Loyal your organization is by understanding Commitment Indicators. No one is safe from technology disruptors that impact the fall and rise of organizations. A culture of commitment is the safeguard a businesses can leverage to overthrow any competitor.

Talent Retention Strategies Hot Tamale #3: Recognize & Celebrate the Small Wins

Interestingly, the underdog’s victory in the Battle at Puebla was not the tactical turning point. It took years for Mexico to win the whole enchilada when the French finally retreated in defeat.[4] The battle was a symbolic victory that carried more meaning in its story than in its strategic gains. It was a small piece of recognition that blew up into a celebration of a moment of triumph.

Modern day employers can use this same tactic to inspire their workforce. Celebrating each and every victory, no matter how minor, is a way to applaud the people, over and over again. It is one of the most successful staff retention strategies as it reminds employees of their power over, and impact on, the bigger goal they work towards. By selling, in a sense, the merits of what happens day to day in the workplace, companies create a culture of recognition. When we set visible goals for our teams, departments, and organization, there is immense power in celebrating the achievements of those milestones together.

Talent Retention Strategies Hot Tamale #4: Create Workplace Traditions with Symbolism

This holiday is often interpreted to be the Mexican “Fourth of July”. , The historical facts paint a picture that implies nothing of the sort. Cinco de Mayo is bigger than Mexico – it became an international celebration of freedom because the ritual itself carries this meaning. Within the workforce, staff retention strategies thrive when tradition and celebration are present. For example, a company may plant a seed in a flower pot for every new employee that joins the organization. The flower’s growth represents a symbol of the individual’s progress and expansion of the company as a whole. Culture is defined by traditions and symbolic gestures that go deeper than what the brand means to the outside world. Build culture by paying attention to recurrent events that enforce the brand and celebrate the vision of what it means to be part of the organization.

Talent Retention Strategies Hot Tamale #5: Hire the Right Talent

The Mexican army was incredibly tight on resources and means. Their strength was in recruitment. Quite simply, they enlisted the right people who stuck around even when times got tough. This is what led to their ultimate triumph.

Likewise, companies who want to dominate a competitive industry get the best employees who want to stay on the mission. Recruiting to retain is one of the most potent staff retention strategies that this Cinco de Mayo allegory brings to light. Before starting the recruitment process, identify who would be the most successful person for the job, for the team, and for the organization’s culture. Culture fit and mission/vision alignment in a new hire substantially improves goal attainment and extends tenure. In finding people willing to dig deeper, we are more resilient when competition or disruptors change the game. So celebrate Cinco de Mayo by using what we have to build a workforce that will last.

Hungry for more Retention Tamales? Staff retention strategies have a place in a company’s talent arsenal every day of the year as the Cinco de Mayo fiesta happens year round. For employee retention advice that comes with a side of guacamole, email requests@retensa.com.


[1] History.com staff. (2009). Cinco de Mayo. History.com, A+E Networks. Retrieved on April 21, 2017 from http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/cinco-de-mayo

[2] Gilliam, Ron. (2017, January 20). “Viva El Cinco de Mayo!” The Battle of Puebla. Warfare History Network. Retrieved from http://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/military-history/viva-el-cinco-de-mayo-the-battle-of-puebla/

[3] History.com staff. (2009). Cinco de Mayo. History.com, A+E Networks. Retrieved on April 21, 2017 from http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/cinco-de-mayo

[4] History.com staff. (2009). Cinco de Mayo. History.com, A+E Networks. Retrieved on April 21, 2017 from http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/cinco-de-mayo


Posted: 5/4/2017

I Can’t Help Falling In Love . . . with These Employee Surveys

What makes human relationships successful? We know that the key to success in any relationship, personal or professional, is commitment – but there is more to it than just the word. Read on to learn about how commitment can be measured using intelligent employee surveys in this first installment of our Love & Surveys series. You can’t make your people fall in love with you, but you can know if they like you, or if they really, really like you.

Commitment, in or out of the workplace, is complicated. Retensa designed and validated an innovative survey methodology, named CAPLET that directly captures commitment in the modern dynamic workplace. For the last 17 years, only our clients had access to it! But we realized that was selfish, and not loving, so in honor of Alexander Graham Bell’s birthday (March 3rd), we want to communicate to the world our secret sauce for all of you to share. This is how to really take an authentic pulse of commitment in the workplace:

For relationships to last within the context of an organization, an individual must feel a sense of belonging and relatedness toward an employer’s mission, goals, values, and staff. It requires a clarity of purpose, whether or not there is a sense of relatedness (“us” not “them”) to one’s peers, where everyone is on the same team.

Morale is a delicate thing but it can be encouraged by the sense of recognition for employees. Intelligent employee surveys assess whether individuals’ believe their unique contributions to the products, services, mission, or peers are being acknowledged, valued and believed to make a difference.

Employer’s reliability in providing the tools and means to succeed encourages employees to consistently and efficiently achieve intended outcomes with impeccability. Employee surveys evaluate this and capture the extent to which management has provided their people with the resources and also inquiries about employees’ individual intentions to succeed within their environment to the best of their ability.

For commitment to fully be in place, there are certain policies, procedures and resources that can encourage dedicated and supportive employees. These employees are faithful and proud advocates of their employer. They will be prepared to defend the organization’s long-term brand, product, service, and potential because being an employee of their organization is also in their best interest. Without loyalty, motivation can crumble at the first sign of adversity, stunting the company’s growth. Employee surveys can help organizations lend an ear to their people, and suggest the best course of action.

All else equal, organizations that take the most right actions will win. Employees who are totally vested in their work, their peers’ work, and the mission of the employer, wake up excited to go to work and take ownership to further the organization’s reputation and interests. Employee surveys determine if management has gone all-in when it comes to making sure their teams are appropriately challenged by their experience while maintaining enthusiasm and a positive outlook.

Employees will trust their organization if they believe that their peers and leaders act ethically, with integrity, and in consideration of others’ needs, wants, and expectations. Without trust, people cannot help but get the sense, even subconsciously, that something is off. Trust is one of the most critical readings in an intelligent employee survey.

If you’d like to learn how you can put your thumb on the pulse of employee commitment, please email requests@retensa.com.


Posted: 3/9/2017

2 Gamification Hacks for Employee Onboarding Awesomeness

Time and time again, HR professionals struggle with employee onboarding. Programs designed to maximize employee performance and retention, no matter how carefully constructed, very often fall short of the mark. The real reason is not lack of motivation from the employee or lack of willingness from the employer. Instead, it is this flaw of our consciousness: the human brain’s tendency to forget. This blog will shed light upon how to improve employee onboarding using gamification.

Employee Onboarding Hacks

Whether or not we realize it, human beings are forgetting all the time. Suppose that you hold a new hire orientation to onboard new employees. Statistics show that after the seminar ends, “Within 24 hours, they have forgotten an average of 70 percent of new information.” (Kohn, 2014) With new hire orientation spend racking up quite the bill, it’s clear that just as the memories do, the dollars are vanishing into thin air.

The good news is that for the solution, employers have to look no further than their mobile phone. The digital workforce transformation brings new technologies such as big data and gamification that will make onboarding fun. These techniques are especially relevant when onboarding millennial employees who are the first generation raised entirely in the digital age.

There are several simple, low cost ways you can integrate gamification to improve forgetfulness during employee onboarding. The first six months of employment are full of administrative tasks. Why not create a contest in which you reward employees for each small accomplishment, for example, completing the W9 paperwork on time. You’re encouraging accomplishment by gift giving and adding an element of excitement, especially if you incorporate healthy competition by establishing a leaderboard and publishing it on social media. Instead of watching training videos or reading a manual about how to perform a job task, put the new hire on a “mystery quest” to figure it out by asking other employees. This improves interaction with the team and activates problem solving. In transitioning from spectator to player, gamification makes new hires active participants in their new company.

With over 17 years of experience supporting HR teams across the world, Retensa is the resource that companies trust to make techniques such as gamification effective. For assistance in designing a gamification program for your company, contact requests@retensa.com.


Kohn, Art. (2014, March 13) Brain Science: The Forgetting Curve–the Dirty Secret of Corporate Training. Learning Solutions Magazine. Retrieved on January 26, 2017 from https://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/1379/brain-science-the-forgetting-curvethe-dirty-secret-of-corporate-training


Posted: 2/13/2017


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How to Block the Competition from Poaching Your Sales Stars

When it comes to employee retention, salespeople can be quite a challenge. It is the Salesperson “Key Employee Retention Paradox”… When they are not performing, invest in training until they start cashing in the chips. Then when they do, the world discovers their success. Blink your eyes and they get poached, taking valuable relationships with them.

With the cost of turnover for salespeople higher than almost every other position, easily 5x to 20x of the employee’s salary, retaining good employees on the salesforce is where the shoe pinches many organizations.

To add more complexity to the mix, it is even more competitive to retain a top performing salesperson in technical industries such as finance, technology, life sciences, or pharmaceuticals. You need to find somebody with interpersonal skills, perseverance, and the competency to pass the licensing exams. And then they have to be able to articulate complicated concepts to a non-technical audience. Finding one of these people is like the search for the Holy Grail.

It is universal. Key employee retention, especially for technical salespeople, is a puzzle for most organizations. Here are three turnover solutions we bring to clients that consistently improve employee retention.

Give Them Training they Can’t Get Anywhere Else

Many organizations make the mistake of providing a training program to entry level salespeople and then assuming that once they become successful, the learning ends. In fact, the opposite is true. With more success comes more pressure and responsibility. Especially in a technical field, the customer’s demands become more sophisticated as the salesperson achieves success. The top talent is who needs the most training, not the least. If you’re not willing to provide these highly demanded employee retention strategies, the competition will.

Sell Them on Your Firm Like They are Long-term Customers

If you want to master key employee retention for your salesforce, you’ve got to sell your firm to them over and over again. Put on your sales cap and act as if you are selling a product (a job at your company) to your top performing talent. Giving special attention and time increases the chance they will join, and accept the company’s first offer. If he or she feels they are treated like the best customer on the planet it conveys that the company is committed to winning their trust over and over. This is how customer loyalty is created through the sales process. Listen to figure out what they really want, and then deliver it.

Research the Competition For Them

Sounds ludicrous, right? But if they’re successful, you know the competition is contacting them. So why not beat them to the punch and make the information available to them? It’s wacky, but by doing this you are assuming control. You gain the ability to explain the differences between your brand and the competition directly. You have the home court advantage here. And by the way, you may learn a thing or two about what your competitors are doing in the process.

Retensa has been in the business of helping companies improve employee retention to prevent their top salespeople from leaving for the competition for nearly two decades. As thought leaders in this field, we’re curious to hear your take on retaining good employees. How have you handled sales turnover at your organization? What’s worked well? Please comment below.

The New Customer: Your Workforce

Pharmaceutical companies create consumer loyalty by promising to improve quality of life. The same approach is becoming adapted as one of the most effective workforce talent management strategies.

“Firms that do not align employee and firm needs increase the likelihood that employees will leave and leave less talented employees behind to finish the job.” –  Chason Hecht, President, Retensa

The greatest impact on the cost of doing business in the past 20 years has been employee turnover.  Losing top talent to the competition has pushed firms to dramatically restructure their hiring, on-boarding, and knowledge-sharing processes.  Most organizations are still struggling with what to provide to their employees to build loyalty.  In the 1980’s, employees looked for performance pay.  In the 1990’s, employees looked for job security.  Employees need change as society changes yet there has always been one common theme:  employees are always looking for something more out of their job.  Halfway through this decade, employees clearly want quality of work life.

At first glance, the term “quality of work life” may seem unclear.  But if you look closer, you may realize you already have the answer.  Improving the quality of life is a fundamental principle of the most successful pharmaceutical companies of our time.  In fact, customers’ “quality of life” is in the mission statements of Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck.  When thinking of retention, it is this same mission that transcends to your employees’ quality of work life.   When you think about improving the quality of life for your customers, what do you picture?  Someone who lives optimally, achieves their goals and reaches their full potential?  Now envision your employees in those terms.  Are your employees reaching their full potential?

From the job posting to the exit interview, there are a finite number of points of contact in the employee-firm relationship.  It is important to recognize that your company only has these points of contact to build a productive relationship with an employee. Not making this connection leaves the employee-firm relationship to chance where they may, or may not, be engaged by what they do and inspired by who they work for.  Employee turnover occurs over a series of breakdowns in the employee-firm relationship at these points of contact.  Fortunately there are hundreds, and so a company has ample opportunity to make up where they may have fallen behind.  With this new perspective the employee-firm relationship has new meaning, clear opportunities and unyielding strength.

Quality of work life is one key to unlocking the door to employee retention.  By improving the quality of work life, employee’s needs, wants, and expectations are aligned with the company’s. Firms that do not align employee and firm needs increase the likelihood that employees will leave and leave less talented employees behind to finish the job.

In the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry, jobs have become more stressful and complicated.  Although the pharmaceutical industry has lower turnover rates compared to other industries, the cost of turnover is much greater.  With strict regulations and rigid timelines, a research specialist’s resignation leaves your company with a delay in product development and a loss of talent to competitors.  Additionally, when a pharmaceutical representative leaves, they take the company’s relationship capital with them.  These stringent regulations leave employee actions vulnerable to repercussions from their boss, the government, and sometimes even the media making retaining talented employees invaluable.  In order to retain your employees and combat turnover a proactive strategy is critical.    We cannot tell you what to do because every pharmaceutical firm is unique, but we can tell you how to do it.

The following is a guide on how to understand and capitalize on your employee-firm relationship.  First, we will begin by discussing the potential causes and signs of turnover.  Next, we will focus on key opportunities to build loyalty, then gathering feedback and finally, the forming of solutions. You might already address some of these issues, or you might have attempted to address these issues but did so without achieving results.  Regardless,  it is important to keep in mind that every time an employee leaves, estimated costs to your company can range from 50% – 300% of their annual salary to replace them.

Recruit to Retain: How the Hiring Process Can be Your Most Effective Retention Strategy

Hiring the right person for the job is crucial to retention strategy. Here’s what you need to know before, during and after the interview.

“Unlike mutual funds, one of the best indicators of future performance is past performance.” – Chason Hecht, President, Retensa

Would you hire all of your employees again? Unfortunately, a lot of business owners would say no. Hiring right the first time is one of your most important tasks, and the last thing you want to do is hire the wrong person – or hire the right one who winds up leaving for a better job.

Step One: Getting Started

To begin the hiring process, you need to ask yourself two basic questions: “What does someone need to be successful in this position?” and “What type of person do I work well with?” The first question becomes the job description with clearly defined knowledge, skills, and abilities. The second question is how you are going to distinguish everyone who thinks they have the first. Ensuring they fit with your company, especially a small firm with a distinct culture, is just as important as their background. For example, someone who works for a large firm may have the experience required, but they also need to be able to thrive with fewer resources and handle more tasks—or they will not last.

Step Two: Attracting Qualified People

If your budget prevents you from using executive search firms (which ask for 20 to 25 percent of first year’s salary), employee referrals are usually the best source of candidates (except retail positions where collusion can increase theft). Otherwise, you are left with job boards, and not all job boards were created equal. When deciding where to post a job, it is important to remember the larger job boards tend to attract entry and mid-career candidates. Niche websites and trade associations attract specialized and more senior-level applicants.

Step Three: Screening the Resume

When screening resumes, employers tend to “sort people out,” but resumes should be used to sort people in. Unless they have the job skills and experience you need, they should not be contacted. Many managers rush to fill a vacant position. It is important to move quickly to look for candidates but do not hire out of desperation. If you do, you may turn around in three months and wonder why you hired them.

Step Four: Conduct a Phone Interview First

Armed with at least 10 resumes, it is time to start phone screening. Remember that many candidates exaggerate or withhold details on resumes, so calling is the most powerful antidote you have. It will save you much effort, before you describe the position, and before they come in for an interview, to ask:

  • What is the perfect job for you right now?
  • What don’t you want to be doing?
  • Why are you looking for a job? What don’t you like about where you are?
  • What do you do well? What are you not as good at?
  • What is the salary range you need to be comfortable?

If you see a fit, begin to connect their future to your company. Give them a sentence about the firm and where you are headed. Then, provide details about the position, responsibilities, sample projects, resources, and ask, “Does this sound like something you’re looking for?” Their reply is the first indicator of how long they will last and may help you avoid someone who is “shopping around”.

Step Five: Make the Interview Count

Now you know whether to invest in an interview, estimate 1 hour per candidate, and for all but entry-level jobs, at least one other person should interview them as well. When you do, stick to the 90/10 rule; the interviewee talks 90% of the time and you speak the other 10%. Anyone can fit canned answers into your questions. So do not hesitate to say, “Tell me more about that.” and “Would you do that differently today?” to delve deeper into the lessons they’ve learned.

Unlike mutual funds, one of the best indicators of future performance is past performance. This is why behavioral interviews, which reflect on past work experience, are so insightful. It is harder for a candidate to embellish decisions and details that already occurred. Situational interviews show how a candidate will deal with situations in the future. Both are very effective. The behavioral version would be “Give me an example of how you motivated a team to overcome a challenge.” The situational version is “How would you motivate a team of five to overcome a challenge?” Link the hurdles this position will face to three or four of these kinds of questions.

Step Six: Making the Offer

At some point in the interview, your gut will tell you this one is a contender. Now describe what this opportunity provides. Tell them why people like working there, why they stay, and paint an accurate picture of the work so they have realistic expectations. To find out where you stand, ask the candidate “If we do make you an offer, is there anything that would keep you from accepting?” Unaccepted offers delay the process and potentially cause other good people to be lost. If they bring something up, you can address it. If they are confident that they want this position, you have a green light.

Good employees need to know that this is the place for them. The best employees are not the ones who want a job but rather want this one.   There are extra steps involved in hiring right. Discuss the candidate’s pros and cons with people you trust, because retention starts with recruiting, making sure they fit is worth it. It will take 3 to 6 weeks, but imagine how much time you will save never having to rehire anyone again.