Guest Column | October 1, 2019

How To Retain And Engage

By Liz Bywater, Ph.D.

Liz Bywater 3

I hear it from my clients all the time — today’s business environment is incredibly competitive and the need to hire and keep top talent is paramount. In a recent article, I wrote that successful CEOs are keenly focused on talent. You’ve got to find good people, develop them, give them opportunities to stretch, grow, make meaningful decisions, and contribute to the success of the company.

Here are seven ways to make sure your employees give you their best and stay in the game even when the headhunters start to call:

  1. Treat them well. There’s an important organizational concept called the psychological contract. It means that we (the organization) have your back. You give us your best, and we will take care of you. The truth is, that kind of mutual commitment can be hard to come by these days. Live it, and you will find yourself with loyal, hard-working employees who stick around.
  2. Leave them alone on the weekends. During vacation too. Personal time should be respected and protected. Know this: Employees who are frequently pulled into work demands during home time become stressed, resentful, and sometimes sick. After a while, these folks begin to look for a better place to work.
  3. Thank them! The simple act of saying, “Thank you, I appreciate it!” goes a long way. Don’t be sparing with formal and informal expressions of appreciation.
  4. Offer them flexibility. To retain your most valued employees, make it easy for them to stay with you even when life pulls them out of the office. Grant reasonable requests to work remotely, take time off to attend to family illness, or be home when the children get back from school. Richard Branson recently announced a full year of maternity and paternity leave for his employees. He sets a strong example. It can be done.
  5. Listen to them! Ask meaningful questions, get their perspective, invite their suggestions. Implement the most creative ideas and give credit where credit is due.
  6. Reward them. Showcase their successes by providing awards and other meaningful forms of recognition. Give them an opportunity to shine in front of senior management, colleagues, family and friends. If your employees have gone above and beyond, why wouldn’t you show them how much you value their efforts?
  7. Learn about their lives. Within appropriate boundaries, of course. Get to know your people and share something of yourself. When you build relationships that go beyond the business topic of the day, you develop loyalty, engagement, productivity, and inspiration in your workforce.

Take a good look at the list. What do these efforts cost you? Nothing in dollars. Just a bit of thoughtfulness, attention, curiosity, and openness. A small investment for a remarkable return!


I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Dr. Liz on Leadership. In each article, I will share new innovative ideas, tools and targeted advice to help you excel in today’s ever-changing healthcare environment. Let me know what’s top of mind and I’ll answer your most pressing questions in future columns. Contact me at For additional tools and ideas, visit my website, And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Slow Down to Speed Up: Lead, Succeed, and Thrive in a 24/7 World!