HR: How to retain a loyal and productive team of employees

The human being is the most innovative, adaptable, and unpredictable creature in the world. Not surprisingly, people are often the most crucial resource within a company. For this reason, headhunting for human resources can be extra challenging. Some of the key missions for HR are to ensure employee satisfaction, upkeep employee effectiveness and reduce employee turnover. In departments of customer service and sales, satisfied employees are especially important as they represent the company they work for to the public. Most notably, they represent the company to the customers, who bring in money for the company to stay in business and make profits. 

Passionate employees contribute to a strong company culture (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Steve Jobs once said regarding Apple: “It does not make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Investing in good employees is investing in your company’s future. Similarly, retaining experienced employees means keeping costs down by not having to retrain new people. While a lot can depend on the industry and the company you are working in with its particular policies, many additional steps can help to build a dream team. So, how do you ensure your employees are loyal and productive? Let’s find out! 

1. The values at the core

A company with a set of consistent core values is regarded as one that knows where it is going. Such companies are rare to come by, believe it or not. People like working for a company that strives for success and has an established identity with a clear list of what is focal. These are not corporate values, however. These are values set in place by the company owners and reflected in all employees. Successful companies, or rather, successful CEOs of those companies, are role models for many followers. Ensure your company is associated with clear-cut core values to fortify your employees’ loyalty. What can these be? Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Zappos Core Values 
  • Deliver WOW Through Service
  • Embrace and Drive Change 
  • Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  • Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  • Pursue Growth and Learning
  • Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  • Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  • Do More With Less
  • Be Passionate and Determined
  • Be Humble
Facebook Core Values 
  • Focus on impact
  • Move fast
  • Be bold
  • Be open
  • Build social value
Starbucks Core Values 
  • Creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome
  • Acting with courage, challenging the status quo, and finding new ways to grow our company and each other
  • Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity, and respect
  • Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results

2. Positivity in the air! 

As a fact of life, jobs do not always align with people’s heartfelt individual passions. This does not mean that people stop working, however, as work is naturally a part of life. Having a negative and dull work environment makes the job more burdensome though. Daily routines might also make work boring for some employees. A job that can be fun can only increase productivity and positivity within the company. I have had people stay working jobs they would otherwise have abandoned just because of the developed team spirit and resulting work environment positivity, which they knew were both scarce.

In maintaining positivity in the work atmosphere, think of people’s various energies and how each of our work interactions leaves us with different emotions due to the energy exchange. Reinforce employees positively from time to time by motivating them to achieve life-changing targets. Do not forget to say “thank you” as gratitude is the foundation of positivity. Celebrate special occasions together with your staff like family. Remember how an office job equals a lack of movement, so get out and move together whenever presented with the opportunity. Finally, listen to your employees attentively to show respect, and make it clear to them that they are trusted. Trust builds confidence. 

3. “Now where’s my money?”

I have interviewed hundreds of people who quit their previous jobs due to a lack of financial security. For an employee whose stability strictly depends on their monthly salary, it is immensely stressful to feel that their job or their salary may be under question. Nowadays, many people searching for jobs indicate financial and work security as their core motivators. Any doubts regarding these areas will naturally not result in loyal employees. You must pay your employees on time and never threaten them using their income or job. 

Build employee trust via financial security (Photo by Markus Winkler on

4. Tip the scale with benefits

A lot of the time, expressly for specialized employees, selecting a job is based on the competitive benefits it provides. Think of it – the salary for particular positions may not change much from company to company. This is logical as most companies set a salary for specific vacancies based on the market level. What makes the difference in such cases is, of course, anything extra that the company provides to sweeten the deal. By offering valuable competitive benefits, you are taking a step towards reducing employee turnover and building employee loyalty. 

Health insurance, paid vacation, paid sick days, paternity/maternity benefits, and pension plans are all standard perks for a job. Throw something extra in, and the offer becomes much more attractive. For example, a free gym membership is a great additional benefit. This can be further enhanced with company yoga, swimming, cycling, or other sports. Helping your employees commute easier can be highly appreciated, whether you provide your employee with a company car or pay for their public transport. The list is endless, but if you put your mind to it, you can put together some valuable perks that will help to retain your employees. From my experience, even free cookies once a week helped keep employees happy in the past. 

5. Got incentives?

To achieve ambitious goals, people need to be motivated. Knowing that you will get paid the same salary month after month, no matter if you do something extra, does not create encouraging circumstances. If an employee knows that any additional productive actions will be appreciated by the company separately, however, motivation is born. To incentivize, provide a bonus scheme for overachievement, commissions on reaching specific sales targets, or prizes for helping the company reach particular goals. You could also have an incentive program that motivates your employees to stay longer in your company. For example, provide the opportunity to receive a 13th salary after working in the company for three years. 

6. Promo, please

Most employees desire prosperity. We see ourselves develop from manager to supervisor, supervisor to director, director to CEO, and sometimes even from CEO to owners of our businesses. One thing is for sure – your average employee would not want to work on the same terms in the same position in three years. Your company should have a clearly outlined career development pathway to remain attractive for its employees. In the last few years, I would say that development opportunities were vital to at least half of the people I had the pleasure to interview. 

The following questions should have clear answers:

  • What position can I be promoted to? 
  • When can I be promoted? 
  • What do I need to do to get that promotion? 
  • What additional benefits do I get after the promotion? 
  • How does the process of promotion work? 
  • Can I be reconsidered for promotion if I am not promoted the first time? When? 

The subject of raises and promotions can be touchy for all your employees. Yet there is no denying; different employees may deserve variable promotion terms. Pay attention to keeping any individual employee information private to avoid undesirable comparisons.

7. Yours? Mine? Ours?

The best way to get people to feel responsible for their achievements or failures is to build a sense of ownership in the company. It is one thing to work for someone and another to be invested in the job directly. Some employees will not care that much if the company fails or succeeds. If it does fail, oh well, they will find a job elsewhere. How the company is doing, its profits or losses, its debts, taxes, or expansion remain the concerns of the company owner to such employees. 

It is motivating for employees to feel that they can make a difference in how the company is doing and that they will see this difference themselves as if they own a part of the company. Some companies do this by allocating company shares to a selection of their employees or allowing them to buy into the shares themselves at a reduced price. Since not all companies can do this, however, there are other ways to develop a sense of ownership for employees. 

For instance, make employees more involved in the company’s prosperity by being crystal clear about the company’s news, activities, and progress. Show your staff that their opinions are valuable and do not fall on deaf ears – this way, they will feel engaged and respected. Inspire belief and trust in the company’s leadership, and make it as reachable as possible. Try to allow for mistakes – they are part of doing business, no matter what. Lastly, it is also a good idea to encourage work benefits beyond financial, such as the invaluable work experience the employees gain. 

8. Train or wane

To perform a job well, employees need to have the confidence of having all the necessary knowledge about the job and access to all the tools required to complete the task they are responsible for. Therefore, to decrease the risk of your employees leaving due to the stress of not knowing, provide proper and extensive training. Making mistakes can be stressful, and your goal is to minimize those mistakes. Do you need help creating a training plan or the training process itself? Feel free to contact me. 

I had some fascinating opportunities to test different training methods and plans for customer service vacancies and compare employee satisfaction before and after. I witnessed firsthand that the quality of the initial adaptation to a job via improved training correlates directly to higher employee happiness with that job in the aftermath. With my experiment, employee satisfaction increased by over 10% just by boosting the training. 

9. What’s to be expected

It is helpful to be direct with your employees on what exactly your expectations from them are. Outline these to build a clear vision and pinpoint the goals necessary to achieve success. Constant changes in your expectations are bound to increase your employees’ stress, which does not help you with the central goal – business growth. Plus, remember that no matter how something can be simply common sense, all people are different, and you should not assume that certain expectations are too obvious to state. It will not be obvious to a sales manager, for instance, that he should also mentor newcomers unless you state this beforehand. 

10. Respect thy employee

I bet you have heard it before: “Respect must be earned.” This is not exactly how it works with your employees. For you to have a highly effective and dedicated team that enjoys working in your company and is motivated to succeed, respect must be shown. Communication between you and your employees must be continuous and frequent. You should make them feel free to provide feedback to you. This way, if any issues arise, you can address them before they escalate. 

At one of my first jobs, respect from the company owner was inexistent. Back then, I would work longer hours and carry out tasks not directly related to my responsibilities. Even that, however, was not worthy of extra appreciation. The philosophy of that business owner was:

“You get paid. That is the maximum appreciation you will get. What else could you possibly want?”

As you can imagine, not many employees chose to stay working for that company, and the turnover was high. Show gratitude, and you will undoubtedly have a loyal and productive team. 

11. Hard times ahead! 

Every company has these – times when matters may seem grim, and everybody working for the company is on their tip-toes. While you cannot eliminate such times, you can at least create an atmosphere of support and reassurance. It helps if employees focus on the long term, effectively redirecting their attention away from the current state of matters. By focusing on the possibility of a brighter future, your employees are more likely to work harder to achieve it together.  

12. Important, or not?

Just like you want your customers not to feel like another “brick in the wall,” your employees will appreciate the same treatment. Make each employee feel valuable and present. Reward and appreciate them to boost morale. Happy employees equal high productivity. Make them part of the big picture – they should feel like they belong in your company. 

It is cardinal to recognize each employee individually. Steve is not just another IT guy from the floor below, and Patricia is not just another cleaner whose work is insignificant. Each member of your staff has an individual character. If you fail to recognize that, none of them will feel anything more than just another cogwheel in your business mechanism. Whenever possible, take an interest in who each person is. Spending a few minutes to welcome a newcomer and having a small chat with him does not cost you anything but does create a warm feeling of care for them. 

13. Speak your mind!

To create the least stagnant environment, your employees should feel free to speak their thoughts, pitch their ideas and provide honest feedback. If people are scared to express themselves because of company policies towards this concept, rest assured that concerns will pass under your radar. You will risk losing many employees, some of which may be highly prospective. Sure, you do not wish to have an employee starting a revolution against the company’s management, but he should feel comfortable sharing his concerns with the human resources managers. 

Loyalty can be fortified by freedom of expression (Photo by Valentin Angel Fernandez on

I have seen how failure in communication with a company’s upper management forces employees to start their hush-hush discussion groups. The problem with this is that more employees get dragged into them unavoidably day after day, and it all becomes a bomb that starts ticking away to detonation. 

14. Ration the passion

Having a company with teams of people working together to achieve common business goals is a gold mine of various talents. It is no secret that people following their true passions are most excited, productive, and motivated. Do not lose the invaluable chance to channel people’s love towards different activities and specialized expertise into furthering the prosperity of your company. Your employees will also be over the moon to be able to use their talents and skills at work, contributing to a larger cause. A great way to uncover hidden talents or skills is to offer additional responsibility up for grabs, instead of assigning it. See who picks up the offer!

Some examples, perhaps? Imagine one of your company’s employees is learning Chinese and is passionate about Chinese culture. If you work with Chinese partners and have meetings with them frequently, that employee may be handy for communications. Do you have employees whose passion is photography? Allow them to help with taking pictures of your product for everyday use. A similar task can be assigned to passionate filmmakers. 

15. Here, have some control 

From my professional experience, people like having control over their activities and hate being monitored, commanded, and reprimanded. Sure, if giving extra control is a step that feels dangerous, you may want to reconsider whether the timing is right. Otherwise, if you believe your employees are responsible enough, more control could be allowed over their areas of responsibility. For instance, your employees could schedule their shifts (as a team), you could remove regulations of a strict dress code, or allow them to personalize their desks as they wish.

16. Telecommuting

Like many other employees, I have been a victim of the greatest conceivable loss of time on Earth for many years – traveling to and from work. I used to spend 1.5 hours getting to work the same time to return home. As a true believer in “time is money,” realizing that I have been losing 3 hours of my day made me develop stress knots on my back. Many say things like:

“There is not much you can do about it!” 

“We all need to get to work after all!” 

“Stop whining and read a book on the metro!” 

Yet the long commute has been and will always be a stressful daily experience for all, no matter which way you put it. Plus, COVID has changed many views about the necessity of being physically present at work. Companies had to forcefully test remote work, and many of them not only maintained their level of productivity but increased it. 

Thankfully, nowadays, many brilliant companies continue to introduce the possibility of telecommuting, a.k.a working remotely. If you consider implementing telecommuting as an option for some of your more responsible employees, it will be viewed as a massive benefit. This can even be offered occasionally – a few times a week. If this is not an option for your employees (and your company is in a megacity), then at least minimize the harshness of punishments for coming to work reasonably late from time to time. 

17. Nothing but top-quality supervision

Believe it or not, employee supervision is a massive factor that affects employee retention. We no longer live in the age when the task of a supervisor is to spawn fear in the very bones of your subordinates to bend them to your will. Today, our supervisors are our team leaders. They set the mood and the energy of the workplace. A supervisor should be perceived as a reliable leader and friend, past the necessary sternness. He must be a great communicator and problem solver. 

To be a supervisor means to be at the center of attention of your department or team. This is not easy, hence why it is always better to promote someone from within your department to be a supervisor rather than bring someone who has not experienced the job of the team members themselves. Supervisors promoted from within the department are bound to be better leaders, knowing all the ins and outs of the department and the company. In addition, this shows employees that promotions do happen in the company. 

18. Care to socialize, anyone? 

To boost your employees’ job satisfaction, you should make it easy for them to interact with their colleagues and stimulate this communication. For companies with multiple employees, teamwork usually plays a key role. Teamwork does not just occur magically, though. People need to know each other individually, understand each other’s roles in the company and develop some familiarity and trust among themselves. 

Make it easy for your employees to develop their social lives at work (Photo by Helena Lopes on

To make the company environment more heartfelt for your employees, encourage celebrating birthdays and other celebrations altogether (which, as I mentioned previously, also increases positivity). Have people with the same interests form activity groups sponsored by the company, such as football clubs or language learning sessions.

Your employees can even volunteer outside of work together. Volunteering brings people together on a deeper ethical and moral level as they collaboratively do something good for the world. Team-building activities (or company events) should also be standard practice for your company, and in point 20 further below I give you more ideas about these.

19. Public enemy #1 – Stress

While health used to be a personal concern, nowadays, more companies realize it affects work too. This is not to say that unhealthy people should not be working, but rather, that you should promote health within the company. An unhealthy employee is a less productive employee. Stress is the number one cause of all illnesses. It is mind-blowing that in the US, for instance, about 75% of all doctor visits can be attributed to stress. Therefore, your goal is to motivate employees to undertake activities that improve their health and diminish stress.

For office jobs especially, it is essential to promote exercise. It directly relates to point 4 above about competitive benefits and free corporate gym membership. 

Healthy eating is also vital, whether you work an office job or not. Lastly, employees should avoid harmful substances – perhaps the number one cause of damage to health. It is not easy to encourage people to be healthy. You cannot just order them to change this aspect of their life as it is very personal. You can, however, create the right circumstances for them to make these positive life changes easier. Google offices, for example, have juice bars for their employees. Is it not healthier to have an after-work juice rather than something alcoholic? 

20. One for the team!

In a work environment piled with tasks, targets, and deadlines, your employees will not have sufficient time to get to know each other better. Team-building is necessary to fortify teamwork within your department (or company). Therefore, it should be common practice for you to have at least 2-3 yearly team-building activities out of work, and 1-2 annual corporate parties or events. These are always occasions to look forward to and greatly increase the positive perception of the company. They also strengthen corporate values and help people identify with your company. 

Time for team building, anyone? (Photo by Pixabay on

For team building, it is ultimate to do something that unites your team. For instance, you can participate in quests, go bowling, or even stay in the office and play interesting competitive games. Depending on the nature of your company and your employees, sometimes even going out altogether to a restaurant is an activity that is perceived warm and welcoming. 

21. A word before departure

People leave. This is not something that you can prevent. There are always different reasons for employees quitting. To decrease your employee churn, it is crucial to track those reasons. To do this, start having exit interviews – short meetings between you (or your HR managers) and the employees who quit the job. During the exit interview, discover the core causes for the employee’s departure and whether anything could have changed their mind. This way, it is easier for you to assess any issues at hand, hopefully preventing any future employees from leaving by fixing possible problems.

Forming an incredible, inseparable team can take more than just a couple of months. It sometimes takes years! People come and work. People leave. Some realize they have found exactly what they have been looking for – a job in your company. Others may not like your location, your free coffee, the nature of your industry, or you. While a lot can be determined during the interview process, unfortunately, not everything will. Yet to have that loyal and productive team, you can certainly do your part. Are you having issues with building your team? Do you need to increase your employees’ loyalty? Let’s discuss how I can help you. 


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