Your Employee Retention Checklist

6 min min read
Updated on October 1, 2021
by Trevor Throness
Your Employee Retention Checklist

Your employee retention checklist

I have an absurdly large head.  In the words of Mike Meyers:

  • Like an orange on a toothpick
  • Like Sputnik
  • Has it’s own weather system
  • I’ll be crying myself to sleep tonight on my huge pillow

For instance, I was looking at motorcycle helmets this week, and discovered that, of course no one carries this size in stock, (it has to be ordered online) it only comes in black, and there is one style and brand to choose from (probably only four are sold in all North America per year).

I picture a 7’4” 375-pound middle linebacker from Alabama musing over the same helmet, asking his wife if she thinks it might be a bit loose on him.

So, when I buy a hat, I hang on to it.  My hat(s) don’t get forgotten on the plane or left behind at a restaurant.  I know how hard they are to come by, and I hang on like grim death.

As you should hang on to your A-player employees (Seriously?  That’s my segue to today’s tip?).

But weak introductions aside, you DO need to hang on to your A-players!  They are harder to replace than they’ve ever been.  And supposedly 50% of people are considering leaving their jobs (read about it here:)

and COVID is causing people everywhere to make dumb career decisions.  Some people just feel squirrely and aren’t sure why and think a job change might help.

So, here’s a checklist to work through to make sure you aren’t giving your best people a chance to leave.

Am I compensating everyone fairly?

A-players don’t typically leave over money, but they do leave over feeling unappreciated.  Inflation is upon us, and it’s important to review compensation packages to make sure they’re fair, and that employees feel valued.

The only sensible way to do this is to assess fair market value.  Ask yourself, “What would I have to pay in this current employment market to replace this person?”  You can find this out by:

  • Looking at industry standards. Some industries publish wage reviews.  Industry associations can be of help here
  • Checking online at sites like Indeed
  • Asking around to see what similar roles are paying in your industry

Making sure compensation is fair is one piece of the employee retention puzzle.

Is my team having any fun?

Fun is something that has been ignored over the last 18 months.  That, and appreciation, which go hand in hand.  It’s hard to have fun over Zoom, but there are creative things you can do such as:

  • Keep up with your coaching sessions. Here’s my free template to use when conducting one:

  • Meet for a socially distanced get-together
  • Start your virtual meetings with something different:
    • Show and tell: ask one person per meeting to show something that is valuable to them that they would save if their home was burning down
    • Introduce a family member to the team
    • Start meetings with a personal question like, “Who is someone who has made a significant difference in your life, and why?”
    • Give us a quick tour of your working/living space
    • Make it interesting. Make a human connection

Are you giving people a reason to be loyal to you?

Many team members, especially people with the ‘S’ DISC style want to be loyal to the team.  They’re looking for reasons because loyalty runs in their veins.  They take pride in being the person who hangs in and stays loyal.

Here’s a new, free, one page summary of all of the DISC styles and their motivations:

But, if they feel ignored, unappreciated, or taken advantage of, that loyalty turns to resentment, anger, stubbornness, and finally bitterness.

You can head this off at the pass and increase employee retention by maintaining relationship.

  • Take time to ask how things are going
  • Show genuine interest in their work and home life
  • Thank them for above-and-beyond efforts
  • Give them opportunities to thank the rest of the team and receive thanks from them

Are they working in their area of strength every day?

Often in busy times team members get pushed into doing jobs that have to get done, but that they aren’t good at, and don’t want to do.  So, they believe that it’s easier to quit and find a new job elsewhere than it is to fight a battle they consider hopeless.

Just yesterday I was talking to a young guy who didn’t want to do a job that his employer wants him to move into.  Here was that conversation:

Him:  I really don’t want to move into that job.  I like what I’m doing now.

Boss: We really need you to do it though!  We’re short-handed!  We’re counting on you!

Him: I really would rather not.

Boss:  You’ll be great, trust me!

Him:  I don’t know…

Boss:  That’s the spirit!  You can do it!

Him:  Silence

Boss:  Okay, then it’s settled! Perfect!

He told me that he was just about to hand in his notice because he found a new job where he could keep doing what he’s great at.  Now his current employer has to fill two roles; his old one and the new one they tried to jam him into.

Reassess roles to make sure people are taking advantage of their strengths for most of their workday.

Are you allowing brilliant jerks to flourish? (or worse: get into leadership?)

Working with (or for) a brilliant jerk is a prime reason to leave a company.  People join companies and leave bosses who are jerks.

Have you ever worked for one? Are you one?  I can tell you that It’s no fun, and brilliant jerks who are productive but toxic WILL DRIVE AWAY YOUR BEST PEOPLE!  Deal with them if you want to increase employee retention.

I work with clients who bleed people.  And I work with clients who have retained every key seat for the past two years.  And the difference is culture.  The best cultures are sticky and help people stay.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.  Make sure yours is thriving.

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here:


Delia Schatz 04.10.2021, 08:48

Three clicks to get to all the info! Lol

I regularly enjoy your posts. This one is so accurate. Just yesterday my gf an I were driving back from a quick out of town trip and because she feels very under appreciated at work, she is now looking at leaving a union job where’s she’s been 25 years.

[email protected] 04.10.2021, 08:54

Delia, thanks so much for your comment. Appreciation is critical to retaining great people!

Zack 04.10.2021, 10:45

Great reminder Trevor, thanks!

[email protected] 04.10.2021, 10:46

Thanks so much for your comment Zack and have a great week!

Steve 04.10.2021, 11:47

Thanks Trevor,

That’s a great reminder. I am having trouble finding people already, so definitely want to make sure we don’t lose any more for avoidable reasons.

Cheers, Steve

[email protected] 04.10.2021, 12:24

Steve, I find that almost everyone I interact with is struggling to find people. We all have to be smart and hold on to our good ones. Thanks for the comment!

Judi wannamaker 04.10.2021, 12:18

Trevor – Thoughtful post, and very timely. I am coaching all my clients on Retention of their staff. Another tip that I’ve been giving out, in addition to the one you listed, is to establish a mentorship program. Especially with the virtual work environment, it can feel pretty lonely for newcomers, or existing staff, especially the extroverts. Assigning a formalized relationship, along with the freedom to ask questions about organizational navigation, or really any questions at all can create the engagement needed right now. And the mentor can be made to feel valued for the tenure. Win-win.

[email protected] 04.10.2021, 12:25

Judi, brilliant idea. I like the concept of ‘mutual mentorship.’ The veterans mentor the newbies and the newbies also have a perspective the veterans need to hear. Thanks so much for your comment!

Jeff 05.10.2021, 12:59

It’s something I am working on with my staff right now. Thanks for the pointers.

[email protected] 05.10.2021, 15:58

Thanks for your comment Jeff, and best of luck as you retain your A-players!

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