The Three R’s of Employee Retention

By Rich Lindblom, YSN

This is the first of a three-part series on how to hold on to your good employees.

The First ‘R’

Finding and retaining good employees is one of, if not the, single biggest issue we are all facing today.

While I won’t go into the finding part right now, I would like to talk about what I believe are the three most important elements to keeping your good employees happy and motivated so they stay with you for the long haul — which in turn will make your life easier and less stressful every single day. 

First, let’s start with what is not one of those three factors: Money! 

While I know that a whole of lot of you (and probably most of your competitors for that matter) believe that the almighty dollar is the most important factor when it comes to retaining good employees, I couldn’t disagree more! 

It doesn’t matter what the job title is; the bottom line is that no matter how much money you pay someone, one of two things is 100-percent guaranteed to happen sooner or later: 

  1. They’ll come back to you asking for more money, or
  2. Someone else will offer them more money.

That’s because when you get right down to it, there is simply not enough money in the world to keep every employee happy.

So now let’s get to the first of my Three R’s when it comes to employee retention, and that is recognition

Sure, we’ve all heard the horror stories about employees needing to be handled with kid’s gloves these days for fear of hurting their feelings, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m not saying you need to congratulate your employees for just showing up to work every day or for doing their job without screwing up. 

I believe that in today’s workplace, a good owner or manager needs to not only recognize excellence when they see it, but should also be quick to acknowledge it.  Don’t ever take your good employees for granted.  When they go above and beyond the call of duty, let them know that you not only noticed it, but that you appreciate it.

Unfortunately, this is a very hard thing for many owners and managers to understand.  Far too many of them have the mentality that, “Hey, they’re getting a paycheck.”  Or even worse, “They should be thanking me because they have a job.”  

Of course, the argument could be made that both of those statements are true.  But that kind of attitude will surely drive away even the most loyal employee at some point.  So I suggest you all do a quick reality check, and if you are one of those bosses, you need to change your view immediately.

Now if you ask me, the two most important words in a good boss’s vocabulary should be “Thank you.”

A good leader should never be afraid to thank an employee for doing a good job, especially if they went above and beyond the call of duty.  One thing I can guarantee is that feeling truly appreciated is far more important to the vast majority of employees than making an extra dollar an hour. In this particular situation I believe the old adage “Money can’t buy you happiness” is absolutely true.  So go out of your way to recognize the excellence of your employees.

And one final thought on employee recognition: Always let your employees know when a customer calls to compliment them or their work.  Be sure to both congratulate them and thank them for a job well done!  It means more to them than you might think.

Next Up: The Second “R” of Employee Retention

I always get a kick out of it when someone reaches out to me after reading one of my articles because it struck a particular chord with them.  So if you have a question or comment (good or bad) about something I wrote about, please reach out to me at, I’d love to hear from you – Rich

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