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Building a Culture of Employee Retention

Jeff Kortes

I often hear about different organizations and how they want to grow their culture.  I will hear about a culture of quality, a high-performance work culture, a culture of excellence, etc.  I rarely hear anyone say we want to build a culture of employee retention. Perhaps, that’s why they don’t have excellent employee retention.  Ironically, a culture of employee retention is actually a driver of productivity, quality, customer service, and, most importantly, the bottom line. For that reason, it’s a must to have a culture of employee retention.  It takes a concerted effort in environments like a foundry to build a culture of employee retention because it isn’t the easiest environment to work in.  Here is how you can go about building a culture of retention:

  • The first step in building a culture of employee retention is to state that’s your objective.  State it in your values statement.  Tell your employees that openly and honestly.  Acknowledge that you have a problem and that your employee retention isn’t what you would like it to be.
  • Tell your employees that you want to hear from them what you can do to change that.  Who better to ask than the people you want to stay?
  • Gather all of the input that you can and then set some priorities about what you are going to do to build that culture.  Then, start taking action.  It’s amazing the impact you can have in a short period of time when you start to act on a problem.  After all, if you had a quality deviation with some castings, you would immediately jump into a corrective action mode.  Do the same with employee retention.  Don’t go it alone either.  Ask your employees to help you to work on the priorities you set.  They will gladly jump in and lend a hand if they know you are serious about building that culture.
  • Dedicate some money to the problem.  You can do a lot with limited funds.  But, if you allocate some resources to the problem like you would if you were doing an ISO audit, it will certainly help your efforts.
  • Once you start to get some traction and are seeing some results, celebrate your success.  Thank your people for their efforts and acknowledge that they were a major part of that success.  This will build enthusiasm and drive even more action.
  • Keep driving forward.  Don’t be satisfied with improved employee retention.  Your goal should be to drive it as low as possible and then sustain it.  By this time, you will view employee retention as a norm for the business.  When you are to that point you will know that you have a “culture” and not just an initiative.  It will be built into the fabric of everything you do in the organization.

The great thing about a culture of employee retention is that you will see a lot of other benefits in quality, customer service and productivity.  Your culture drives those other results as well.  This stuff is simple...real simple.  It’s just not easy.  It takes discipline, hard work and focus.  The key is to take that first step and commit that you truly want a culture of employee retention.

Jeff Kortes is the founder of Human Asset Management LLC, a multi-segment HR services firm.