Show RESPECT To Attract And Retain The Best Employees

By Gerald Walsh ©

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that most are written from the perspective of the job seeker. That’s intentional because, frankly, most people need guidance in this area.

Today’s blog is written for employers. What can you do to make your company more attractive to prospective employees? What will keep your best employees excited about their work and not looking for another job?

Hint: It’s not just money.

A couple of years ago I began to study organizations that were particularly effective at getting and keeping engaged employees and I built a model based on that research. I call it the RESPECT Workplace Model and it lists the seven strategies companies follow to achieve their targets:

R – Recognition of employees

E – Engaging work

S – Social responsibility

P – Personal well-being

E – Education and training

C – Community

T – Total compensation

1. Recognition of employees.

Organizations that are good at attracting and retaining people have a culture of recognizing employees for a job well-done. Unfortunately, for many employees, ‘no news is good news’ is the only form of feedback they receive.

Recognition programs don’t have to be formal or structured. Nor do they need to cost a lot of money. A simple “thank you” to an employee, an extra day vacation, or a pair of movie tickets, goes a long way. If you prefer a more formal approach to employee recognition, ensure that your plan rewards the outcomes you want for your business.

2. Engaging work.

Many employees don’t use their education, skills, and experience fully on the job. And after two or three years of doing the same job, they become bored and disengaged, and look for work elsewhere.

The challenge for managers is how to design jobs so employees’ skills and training are put to better use. For top employees, consider asking them to chair an employee committee or volunteer on a community board of directors. Or, offer them stretch assignments or lateral transfers where they’ll build new skills, and, more importantly, be stimulated intellectually on the job.

3. Social responsibility.

Most people – but especially young people – want to work for a company that cares for their community and the environment.

Ironically, most companies already engage in socially responsible practices from donating money to charities to recycling in the office. However, very few companies promote their practices deliberately to attract and retain employees.

Consider developing a CSR policy in your workplace and posting it on your website or including it in your recruitment materials. Prospective employees will conclude that if you care that much about the community, you will care for them the same way.

4. Personal well-being.

There’s plenty of evidence that healthier workers have higher levels of job satisfaction, lower absenteeism, and better overall job performance. Yet many workers continue to suffer ill health due to their work, such as:

- Long working hours causing problems at home;

- Poor eating habits triggering high blood pressure; or

- Conflicts with co-workers causing stress.

Companies that respect their employees’ health and well-being are seen as better employers to work for. So, ditch the muffins and serve fruit and vegetables at staff meetings. Reimburse employees for health club memberships. Start a walking club at lunchtime. You will quickly see the benefits.

5. Education and training.

Investing in your employees’ learning is a clear signal that you value them. They will see a future with your company and will make longer-term commitments to you.

Ironically, some employers still hesitate to provide training because they fear employees will become more marketable and leave. While there is some risk of this happening, the alternative – having an untrained staff – does not seem too wise.

6. Community.

Workers, especially younger ones, consistently rank the personal aspects of work ahead of economic factors when evaluating an employer for a new job.

What this means is that job candidates look for a workplace that is friendly, supportive and respectful. They want to work for a company that is guided by a clear sense of values, and work for leaders they trust. Ultimately most people these days are looking for a ‘sense of family’ and want to be proud of their employer.

7. Total compensation.

Companies still spend enormous amounts of time on compensation and bonuses to reward and retain top employees. Yet employees rarely decide to join or leave an employer for money alone. The vast majority of employees simply want to be paid fairly and competitively.

So rather than worrying about salary levels focus on benefits and perks. If you run a smaller company or not-for-profit where cash is tight, consider rewarding your employees with non-cash forms of pay. An extra week’s vacation rather than a few more dollars will be valued by many employees who want greater flexibility in their lives.

A thought for job seekers. When you’re evaluating a prospective employer, why not use this model to see how they match up?

To share your thoughts on this blog post, please write me at

Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 15,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.