Employee Retention Rule #3: Make Employees Part of Something Bigger


If your employee thinks of their job as just a “job that pays the bills”. you risk losing that employee to any job that pays even a bit more.  This is especially true in today's highly competitive job market that is saturated with platforms like LinkedIn that give recruiters direct access to your employees almost effortlessly.

The truth is, all humans have a deep need to have meaning in their lives.  We’re like that as owners, and it’s important to understand that your employees have that same need.  After all, your employees spend the majority of their waking hours at your place of work.  So how do you make a job more than a paycheck? You help your employees become something bigger by:

Creating a healthy workplace community

One key way to help employees feel part of something bigger is to have a healthy Workplace Community – a place where they feel attached to the organization and to their peers.  Each employee needs to have one or two work friends that they feel connected with.  Now, it’s not your job to create those connections, but it is your responsibility to create an environment that enables these connections to develop.

There are many different approaches to creating a thriving Workplace Community.  Some companies organize outside activities for employees to participate in together, such as running a 5K race together.  Others focus more on social activities such as monthly happy-hours at local restaurant and bars after work.  And remember, if socializing isn’t your cup of tea, it’s not required that you attend these events as the owner. These events will be effective in creating relationships across departments and levels of the organization, with or without your attendance.  

Some of our favorite Workplace Community activities include having company potlucks (especially if you employ some really great cooks!) and creating a space for people to come together to enjoy a meal as a team, participating in Christmas toy drives for underprivileged families in our community, collecting school supplies for local schools to provide to children of low-income families, and lunch hour book clubs at the workplace.

Another important way we’ve built Workplace Community is having quarterly company meetings.  We had individual employees get up and speak about specific things going on in their department and team; this created team pride.  We also read aloud notes that employees placed in a box regarding how they saw a peer demonstrate one of the company’s core values.  The kudos of being recognized in front of their peers was much more powerful than any gift or gimmick we could have given.  We could not have given our employees a gift that was more meaningful than recognizing them in front of their peers for the ways they had exemplified our core values.

Encourage employees to be the “best version” of themselves at work

Another approach we used successfully to help create a strong and healthy atmosphere was to remind every employee on a regular basis that we expected them to be the “best version” of themselves when they were at work.  Regardless of who they were outside of work, what was going on outside of work, we always encouraged them to be the best of themselves when they walk through the office doors. 

We found that many employees who had challenges outside of work began seeing the office as a safe-haven where they could discover things about themselves free of the constraints they faced outside of the office. They realized things about themselves they hadn’t before – like what they liked to do, what they were good at, and even a better understanding of who they were as individuals. Ultimately, their “work self” became the version of themselves they liked the most.

Understand that while a healthy Workplace Community primarily happens between the employees; your responsibility is to create the atmosphere that encourages it.  It doesn’t have to feel like a family, it just needs to be a place where your employees can feel like they belong and feel appreciated.  When your employees experience a healthy Workplace Community, you are creating employees who are connected.  When employees feel a deep connection with their peers and their workplace, their job is no longer just about the paycheck they collect; and leaving for another job that pays more becomes less appealing.


This blog is part of a 4-part series inspired by the webinar, Stop Losing Good Employees.

See also: Current Trends That Make it Difficult to Retain Employees, Employee Retention Rule #1: Structure, Clarity and Focus, Employee Retention Rule #2: Invest In Your People

EmployeeMatthew Pohl