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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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Employee retention makes good business sense
Alexis DeSela

March, 2013

Communicating effectively with your staff members is one of the most important ways to retain them and provide greater job satisfaction.  In a time where headlines tell us that a large percentage of employees are dissatisfied and want to quit their jobs, it becomes even more important for today’s nonprofit leaders to become more engaged with and interested in their direct reports.   

The cost of ignoring the problem is great.  The average cost of turnover for management, executive level and other key positions is 150% to 250% of their annual salary.  Add to this figure the cost of low morale, lost productivity, lost contacts and goodwill and the costs are even higher.

It’s been said that employees leave bosses, not organizations. Over the course of 22 years in the “people” business, I have found this to be true.  As I have talked with management and executive level staff during exit interviews, some of most prevalent reasons for employee dissatisfaction have centered around a lack of clear and effective communication.

Here are five strategies to open the channels of communication with your direct reports to help boost mutual understanding and enhanced communication, which can dramatically and positively affect employee retention:


1.   Set clear and specific expectations

2.   Schedule regular one-on-one meetings

·         The meetings don’t have to be long; use them as check-ins to review progress on strategic goal and/or operational plan achievement, project or other work completion, and to keep the communication channels open.

·         Acknowledge goals met and extraordinary performance; celebrate accomplishment. Yes, executives like to be acknowledged too!

·         Address performance issues quickly and specifically. State your expectation for improvement and follow-up. Keep people accountable.

3.   Meet with your team regularly

·         Allow your team to discuss its issues and encourage collaboration and communication so everyone is on the same page.

4.   Do quarterly reviews

·         Review projects/goals and progress.

·         Discuss areas of excellence and opportunities for development.

·         Ask for feedback:  How can you better support your direct reports?  This should be a two-way appraisal.

5.   Do an annual review, and do it thoughtfully and on time.

·         Use the quarterly discussions and information to summarize the employee’s performance, goal achievement and developmental opportunities. Take the time to use specific examples.

·         Set mutually agreed upon goals for the next performance period.

·         Ask the employee to provide you a summary of your performance as their boss and make necessary changes to be a more effective leader.

Being an effective leader takes effort, but it’s well worth it.  When you take the time to communicate clearly and regularly, keep staff accountable, recognize exceptional performance and allow staff to provide you with constructive feedback on your performance as a leader, you will make positive strides in keeping your staff engaged and satisfied.  The results are higher retention rates and a healthier bottom-line.  One large nonprofit where I worked saved more than one-and-a half-million dollars in one year after implementing these five suggestions.

Let us hear from you about the ways good communication is accomplished in your workplace.  Do you have an employee retention success story you’d like to share?  Email me at


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