This is NOT a regurgitation of the obvious reasons great employees stay.
Because great employees show up, deliver results and consistently go above and beyond to support the company, they could easily jump ship for a better job offer, or, if bold enough, strike out on their own. But they don't.
The reasons great employees stay go beyond the obvious. There are deeper, multi-faceted emotional and relationship connections that create a bond between what the salon/spa is, for example, and its ability to fulfill the great employee's needs and ambitions.
From a 30,000-foot viewpoint, great employees stay because of what surrounds them, encourages them, nurtures them, pushes them, cares for them and rewards them.
Here are my top 10 reasons why great employees stay:
- To stay part of something special: Yes, culture is huge. Being part of "something special" goes deeper than the definition of company culture. Culture is the collective thinking and behavior of a company. Being part of something special taps into those emotional connections that feed sense of pride, belonging and, most importantly, exclusiveness. That "something special" exists exclusively in the connection between the employee and the company. A competing company can offer a boatload of money, but it can't replicate that something special.
- Work has purpose and meaning: There are long-term employees that stay simply because they're comfortable. Great employees have unique talents; they want to excel and succeed by doing work that has purpose and meaning. They want to do work that somehow changes and influences lives for the better. They thrive on being part of something that's innovative and ahead of the competition.
- Personal contribution makes a difference: The Patriots' 2017 Super Bowl victory was a stunning overtime win. Tom Brady didn't win it alone. Every player contributed. Every player rose to the challenge. When employees are part of something special, they're challenged to contribute and deliver their best effort. When a great employee's contribution makes a difference, it comes with a responsibility and duty to the team and company. Because that responsibility and duty is earned through hard work, the bond between great employees, the team and the company becomes inherently strong.
- Recognized and respected: Great employees continue to prove themselves every day. They help set and maintain the productive rhythm of the company. They mentor others. They step up when needed without being asked. Their unique talents and expertise are obvious. In return, the great employee's work and contribution earns them recognition and respect at all levels of the company, especially leadership. Again, the key word is "earned." Recognition and respect from peers and leadership further solidifies the bond between a great employee and the company.
- Gifted and talented co-workers: Great employees are almost always surrounded by other gifted and talented co-workers. Their creativity feeds off one another. They challenge one another to get better and more innovative. Friendships and creative partnerships are cultivated. In the process, great employees learn and grow at a pace and in ways that are unique to their company.
- Encouraged and mentored to achieve full potential: There's something about being part of a team and company that takes helping employees achieve their full potential seriously. For great employees, this means having a growth path and opportunities that stretch beyond the horizon. For great employees, this means persistent encouragement to get better.
- Trust in leadership: A company's culture is a reflection of leadership. Like all long-term relationships, trust is a factor. Fairness is a factor. Caring is a factor. Great employees stay because they can trust that leadership has their back. They can trust that leadership will make the best decisions for the company. They trust that when things go sideways, leadership will get the company back on course.
- Emotionally invested in their work and the company: There is a point where a great employee's passion for their work and the vision/mission of the company intersect. That point where "the work" of the great employee and the "vision/mission" of the company intersect is the single most influential factor why great employees stay. It is a deep emotional connection that both the work and the great employees believe in what the company stands for. It makes the work that much more important. It makes what the company stands for worth protecting and fighting for. If not emotionally invested in the work and the company — "work is just work" — and it doesn't matter where it's done.
- Culture is irreplaceable: This is where the salon/spa's culture comes into play. When the culture is pure, free of drama, empowering and trustworthy, it becomes the company's most effective employee-retention tool. Keeping a company culture pure is the toughest and perpetual work of leadership. And when leaders get and keep it pure, the culture achieves a uniqueness that cannot be duplicated.
- Security in fair compensation: I saved the money/benefit reason for last because it only comes into play when one or more of the nine preceding reasons fall apart. Money becomes a factor when fairness in compensation is compromised. Relentless and consistent hard work deserves to be fairly compensated. Open and ongoing communication about individual and company performance is essential.
Great employees stay when they can focus on doing great work and contributing to growth … and trust they will be fairly compensated.
Here's my challenge to you: Take a seriously hard look at the state of the emotional and relationship connections your company has with its great employees and how it's nurturing those connections with all employees. It's not just about the money. It's about what the company stands for and creating an inseparable bond with the hearts and minds of its employees.
This article was written in conjunction with Neil Ducoff's session presented at the 25th Annual Gathering of Games. The Gathering of Games took place September 6-8, 2017 in Dallas, Texas.