In Frankly Friday


“How to keep employees”

It’s a phrase that was searched 1,900% more often in November 2023 versus November 2013.

But you’re not surprised, are you?

Neither am I.

My conference room has long echoed with the concerns of well-meaning business leaders all wondering, “How do I stop losing people?”

They are eager and honest in their pursuit of the right solution. But they are often jostled by my answer:

Employee loyalty can not be bought any more than your marriage can be bought; it must be built.

First, the language of the question indicates the problem. Can we agree on something?

These are not our employees “to keep.”

They are our team… to support.

They have chosen to trust us with hours and years of their life they could be doing something else. And silently, they are trusting us with those hours and years so that we might help them achieve their dreams.

Yes, when we give them nothing else to judge from, they will resort to comparing our salary, benefit packages, and vacation policies to the next company trying to scoop them up.

But those checked boxes were really just a symptom of a bigger void; they’re searching for a better life that we haven’t provided.

So let’s start there.

If we are not helping our team achieve their dreams, then what are we good for?

For too long, the answer to that question has been “a paycheck.”

And that’s exactly why so many companies are where they are today with talent shortages and disengaged employees.

What if, instead, the world was asking, “How do I keep my employees happy?”

For what it’s worth, that search phrase has only declined in the last decade, according to Google Trends.

But stop for a moment and ask, how do we build a strong relationship in every other area of our lives?

How do we build strong friendships? Partnerships? Marriages? And families?

We give.

We give our time. We give our listening ears. We give our support. We share our riches and our resources freely, without strings attached.

We encourage each other. We go below the surface and ask about the hard stuff. We follow up. We help each other overcome.

And the result is so much bigger than loyalty; it is community. It’s trust. It’s a natural desire to want to be together.

Without gimmicks, games, numbers, and figures, we just end up knowing, “These are my people.”

Would you like your company to be full of “these are my people,” people?

We would all pity a man who had to resort to searching “How to keep my wife.”

And we’d probably all know that what he should be searching for instead is “how to be a better husband.” And we all know that being a better husband, friend, and partner all comes down to the love, effort, and generosity given.

Could the analogy apply to us as employers?

I think it has to.

Give to your people, my friend. Give to them freely.

Find out what they’re lying awake at night dreaming about. Ask them about it. Buy them a random book or send them to a conference on that subject. Pay for a coach for them. Give them time in their schedule to pursue that thing. Celebrate them in front of everyone when they’ve reached a personal milestone.

Surprise the heck out of them with a gift card for a date night with their wife. Give them a random day off to do something with family. Buy a plane ticket to the city and friends they long to visit.

Pay for their first three months of guitar lessons. Hire a house cleaner for them after they’ve had a crazy week. Send flowers and words of encouragement on their hard days. Throw lavish birthday parties for them and say out loud what you and your team admire about them.

Show up early with their favorite coffees and snacks.

Carve out time for them regularly.

Smile, give fist bumps, and remind them often that it’s okay to chase their wild and crazy dreams. Then, remind them again.

Don’t ever stop to count the cost.  Don’t measure these efforts against a “percentage of turnover.” To do so would be an act of manipulation.

Good people don’t manipulate.

Good people don’t hold anything over each other.

Good people are generous.

Good people build dreams together.

Give to your team simply because a generous life is the best life. Give because a generous company is the best company. Give it because it’s fun, it’s life-giving, and in the end, what we all really needed all along.

This is how good people are made.

But you already knew that, didn’t you?



P.S. – If you find yourself needing more proof, Neuroeconomist Dr. Paul Zak extensively researched the scientific reasons that giving produces the results I mentioned above.

Until prompted to write this article, I had never read his work, but the results are astonishing and undeniable; giving is the only way.

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