What makes great employees great? It’s often a combination of experience, passion and belief in the company’s mission. No hire is guaranteed to be great, and often younger employees take time to grow into their greatness over time, and this all at the company’s expense. Eventually these great employees (particularly younger ones) will look around for other opportunities or be recruited away, so how do you retain these great employees and prevent them from moving on?

When you look at the greatest organizations in the present day, we see that the answer lies in three simple words: respect, recognition, and reward. The greatest companies in the world live out these three R’s across their organization, which helps them keep their greatest asset: their employees.

How to Retain Great Employees


Respect may be the most important aspect to retaining great employees. Respect for employees lies at the heart of every great company culture. Companies must respect an employee’s ideas, beliefs and hopes in all scenarios and situations. Every human being feels the need to be respected in their beliefs and the freedom to express themselves in the way they want. It is not enough to say that you respect employees, you must show it and allow them to be themselves.

Respect means not only listening to employees’ ideas for the company, but also putting those ideas to work. If you carefully consider feedback from employees and work with them to develop those ideas, they will feel that their ideas matter and that those ideas have made a positive contribution to the company. If employees feel like their contribution is respected, they will know that their impact at the company is larger than the work that they perform on a day to day basis.


Recognition of employee accomplishments, both in and out of the work environment, can impact work satisfaction and provide social proof that employees contributed in a meaningful way to the organization. The best companies don’t just recognize employees at the end of the year, rather they find ways to recognize employees on a regular basis. One-on-one recognition only goes so far, which is why many organizations are using technology like digital screens to display employee or team accomplishments across corporate campuses, or are sending company-wide emails. This allows for individual employees to be recognized on company-wide basis.

Recognizing an employee’s effort, and seeing others being recognized, motivates all employees to work harder and gain that social acceptance. There is a great feeling that we all have when we are recognized or congratulated for doing a good job; even if it is something small, we feel more confident and know that we are a contributing member to the company’s larger mission.


Reward is the last step to retaining your greatest employees. Rewards are the cream on top for your employees. A reward is not only a motivating factor for working harder, but it is also a way to show employees that the organization relies on their efforts for success. When employees contribute to that success they should be rewarded in a monetary form in addition to social recognition. Monetary rewards are a way to personally recognize employees on an individual level and show that their efforts are not for nothing.

Rewards should come more than once a year, and they don’t necessarily need to be significant in size. Consistent rewards can be small gifts for successfully completing certain tasks or projects, like providing a $10 Starbucks gift card to employees who have to come in early to work on a project due later in the week. These little rewards display that the company is more human than corporation, showing that employees are cared for and are more than cogs in a wheel used to drive company results. Individual departments can be given budgets for smaller rewards on a consistent basis, while larger company rewards are reserved for special situations or as voted on by other employees.

The three R’s may not guarantee employee retention, but keeping these top of mind will create a company culture that is more human and employees will find it personally rewarding to work hard for the organization. They will feel that their ideas are contributing to something bigger than themselves b receiving social acceptance for their work and benefiting in monetary rewards for their innovate thinking and hard work. The benefit is a win-win for the company and employees alike.

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