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5 Ways to Hold onto Your Employees (P.S. It’s Not What You Think)

By Colette Carlson – Human Behaviour Expert & Communications Speaker

Communication Keynote Colette Carlson Speakers Bureau The Sweeney AgencyThere has been a huge shift in the way people are looking at work. I call it “Going from YO-YO to YOLO.”

Most people in corporate America lived a resume life. It was the YO-YO. We entered a company at the bottom, tried to work our way up, got bored (or moved into a new position, or got fired, or got promoted) got bounced back down, then worked our way up in a new position, over and over again. If we were lucky, our YO-YO career ended at the top. If we weren’t…

Then the pandemic hit. Over the long year that wasn’t, there was a tremendous amount of reflection between video conferences, endless podcasts and virtual everything. As vaccines rolled out, and we were facing our workplaces, lots of employees started asking: “What am I doing with my life?” This evolved into another mindset; The YOLO Economy. People were looking into their mirrors and acknowledging a hard truth: You only live once.

Hello, this is your Wake-up Call.

If you are an employer, then you understand it is harder than ever to retain and motivate employees. Employees seem to be more restless and bored than ever before. Don’t worry, it’s not your imagination.

The latest research shows that more than 40 percent of employees are thinking about quitting. Does this mean your workplace is toxic or that you’re a tyrant? Not necessarily. In fact, you may be the loveliest person to have ever been called “supervisor.”

However, in that year of 2020, the world witnessed something tragic. The grim CDC statistics showed that 34 million developed COVID and nearly 607,000 passed away from the disease.

Said Forbes business contributor Jack Kelly (June 14, 2021): “We’ve learned firsthand how fragile life is. Many people have reexamined their lives. They realize they have a limited time here in this world. This has caused a bit of an existential moment.”

In those existential moments your employees have wondered what it all means, what their places are in this world and how, in this work life that they are experiencing, what they gain besides a paycheck and benefits?

According to Kelly, as the economy has opened up the fears of being unemployed have been erased, hiring inducements are being offered across the board and flexibility has become the key.

If, as an employer or an HR manager, all of the job’s turnover reports have thrown you into a panic, there are things to be done to make the road ahead a little smoother. I will issue a bit of a warning first: retaining or hiring employees are not necessarily a money or benefits issues. It requires more. It demands more of everyone. It is a five-part mindset.

 Five Ways to Hold onto Your Employees: A Committed Mindset

  1. Connect – Workplaces, virtual or in-person are comprised not of things but of people. Now, as never before, employees want to work with people they FEEL they know; with people they like and with those they trust. It is a matter of chemistry and feedback. Therefore, negativity, harassment, bullying, bias or bigotry cannot be tolerated. Commit to connection.
  2. Communicate – Not all that long ago, many organizations reveled in the phrase: “That’s on a need-to-know basis.” In fact, the phrase became a habit that was applied to most anything. The problem was that employees knew a lot more than they were credited for knowing. If 2020 was the year of the lockdown, then 2021 is the year of change and managing change. The more employers can communicate the better. In fact, communication should be encouraged. Commit to communication.
  3. Compassion – We have all gone through a rotten time. There’s no other way to say it. Think of how wonderful it was to hug a loved one you hadn’t seen in a while, or sat down – maskless, with a workplace friend over coffee. The more empathy we can have for each other in our workplaces, the more we can build relationships and protect one another from burnout. Compassion is much more than a word, but an action. Compassion flows from our authentic and mindful selves. Compassion is cultivated from the top, down. It is not reserved for some and withheld from others. Commit to compassion.
  4. Cause – If employees wonder, why am I working? Or, if they are asking, “Is it just about a paycheck or is there a purpose to what I am doing?” We’d be wise to have an answer. The organizational vision is not a phrase to be mounted on a polished wood plaque but a living sentiment. If we have that cause in common as an organization, are we nurturing one another to achieve our goal? Commit to a cause and a reason for being.
  5. Completion – Finally, at the end of the day, what have employees accomplished with their work? Are they appreciated for bringing a new product to market? Developing a diagnostic tool? Supporting an important charity? Teaching poorly-served children how to read? Are employees given the “permission” to luxuriate in work well done? Are they “rewarded” for how their efforts have made a difference? Commit to celebrating completion

We can view these times with fear or with resolve. We have all learned that what we have in common is much greater than our differences. Why shouldn’t we bring the same attitude into our organizations? In fact, let’s commit to it.



    About Colette Carlson

    Colette Carlson is a human behaviour expert and hall of fame keynote speaker who teaches audiences how to transform relationships through the power of connected conversations. After all, at the heart of every sale, every interaction between a leader and a team member, every conversation with a customer… is a connection.

    Colette’s presentations weave together powerful life lessons, research-backed strategies and the call to up their emotional quotient for personal and professional success. Audiences connect with Colette through her inspiring content, ability to model transformative conversations, extensive customization, and laugh-out-loud humor.


    To learn more about Colette Carlson contact [email protected]

    Derek Sweeney is the Director of Speaker Ideas at The Sweeney Agency  www.thesweeneyagency.com. For 15 years Derek has been helping clients find the right Speakers for their events. Derek can be reached at 1-866-727-7555 or [email protected]