How to Retain Employees and Increase Engagement - Part 2

To read Part 1 of this article, CLICK HERE.

After researching this topic of engagement and retention and reviewing the statistics, three avenues for resolving the issues stand out. They are the initial interview, the stay interview, and nontraditional benefits. When incorporated well into your hiring, benefit and retention methodologies, you should see improvements in both employee engagement and employee retention.


Take a moment to consider the types of questions you ask employees before hiring them. Also ponder the questions you ask candidates' references, if you are in the habit of checking references. Finally, consider all the screening methods your business consistently practices when hiring a new employee.

Initial hiring interviews are extremely important, so I hope that you do conduct interviews and go through a proper screening process.

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However, along with the interview, there are a few additional methods of screening candidates which may or may not yet be a part of your company’s hiring process. They are processes which could directly affect your new employees’ engagement and retention rates.

The processes involve finding intelligent, energetic, and motivated people who are also individuals of integrity. Perhaps you agree and wonder, “Yes, but how do I do this?”

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

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  • ASSESSING INTELLIGENCE: How do you find an intelligent employee? Do you request a copy of the candidate’s college transcript? Of course not! That’s not the type of intelligence to which I am referring.

Rather, it’s an emotional intelligence. According to TTI Success Insights' website, their emotional quotient assessment accurately measures one's "ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power of overall emotional well-being to facilitate higher levels of collaboration and productivity."

However, if you wish to assess intelligence by testing a candidate's aptitude for learning and problem-solving, Brannon Professionals utilizes a tool that I like to call the "How well do you think on your feet?" test. Contact us for more information on either of these assessments.

  • ASSESSING BEHAVIOR: A high-energy employee is often deemed as the most preferable. Sometimes we label people as introverted (with supposedly low energy) and extroverted individuals as high energy. If this is your habit of labeling, you may want to reconsider, because this is absolutely wrong thinking when it comes to hiring successful employees.

I know extreme introverts who have learned skills which have made them top salespeople. I have also seen extroverts with so much energy that they had a difficult time focusing on tasks requiring great detail, yet were exceptionally skilled in building relationships with customers.

Having candidates and employees complete a personality or behavioral assessment, such as the DISC hiring and management tool created by TTI Success Insights, can remove our biases and offer definitive insights about potential candidates on both sides of the equation so that the right candidate can be hired from the get-go.

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  • As to motivated individuals, hiring managers should not blindly go after the spunky, energetic candidates who seem to really want the job and be motivated by the job description. Go deeper by discovering the candidate’s natural motivators and asking employees to take the TTI Success Insights’ 12 Driving Forces or PIAV assessment. It will reveal a candidate’s true motivations in life and in the workplace. You want the candidate's motivators to align well with the actual job for which they are a consideration. If their motivations are a good match, then it may be time for a job offer.

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  • Finally, there is the matter of finding employees with integrity. This is a topic previously covered in a Brannon blog post. Integrity ranks high on the list of most desirable traits in a job candidate. Honesty, accountability, transparency, humility, trustworthiness, and responsibility are all important aspects of this noble yet sometimes uncommon character trait. People who do what they say they are going to do and those who willingly provide a reasonable account of "why" when they can’t keep their word are such a valuable asset to an organization! A candidate who attaches importance to these respected principles for living and has a reputation for practicing them in previous jobs, s/he is someone to rank high on your potential candidate list.


I have often wondered why new owners and managers do not re-interview their employees, at least in the most basic fashion, especially when there isn’t an overabundance of employees. The point of doing this would be, of course, to get to know your people, their interests, skills, motivations, and aspirations. You want to know why they stay with the company and also understand any reasons which might cause them to leave.

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With this idea in mind, what about having owners and department managers conduct stay interviews? These would be conducted with all employees, regardless of how long they have been employed. The interviews would simply be modeled and toned differently from the initial hiring interviews.

Try to conduct stay interviews every 1 to 1 ½ years. Questioning should be focused on conversations which create insights regarding employee satisfaction with his or her job, coworkers, salary, management, workload and the company itself.

Your choice of the following potential stay interview questions may be shared with employees ahead of time:

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  • How would you rate your level of joy and satisfaction with the work related to your current position? With the relationships you have developed among your coworkers? With your supervisor(s)? With the company? (Note: Use a 1-10 rating scale.) When a low rating is noted, try to discover the basis for the low satisfaction. It may be something as simple as a bad odor or the temperature in the office or as complex as a moody coworker or being subjected to subtle biases.

  • Based on a definition of employee engagement, how would you rate your current level of engagement with the job?

  • What single aspect of your job brings you the most satisfaction?

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  • Bring up salary history and discuss possibilities for raises. Ask about needs and expectations, goals, and any pay increase limitations due to top-out pay, lack of education, etc.

  • Ask if the employee feels appreciated by his or her direct supervisor, the department manager and by the company?

  • If we could do one thing for you, what would it be?

  • What, if any, work-related task brings you the most stress after you leave the office?

  • Ask about a single challenge s/he is facing, and then discuss how management might help change the situation for the better. Occasionally, this might involve a delayed conversation.

  • Ask about the leadership role in which s/he is currently involved, if any. Are you satisfied with your current level of leadership opportunities? Are you hoping for advancement opportunities? If so, in what role? As a manager, be as prepared as you can be to discuss the possibilities, if any truly exist, and on what basis a potential promotion might occur.

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  • Do you have any new skills, educational goals, or company related interests that you would like to discuss?

  • Ask for suggestions about the person’s job, the department, work flow, office relations, company, and anything else which might be on the interviewee’s mind. Write these suggestions down and study them as sincere recommendations. Work to implement any suggestion you deem wise. Follow up with the employee and keep him or her informed of developments regarding the suggestions.


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Hopefully, your company already offers the most basic, traditional benefits. These include medical, dental, vision, and 401K offerings. If you do not offer these, they should become your top priority. Make them available and just as affordable and beneficial as possible for your employees.

However, other nontraditional benefits can be very effective in persuading new hires to jump on board and be a part of your business. Benefits which provide flexibility, reimbursement, life assistance or even fun will go over best with your employees. The goal is to be certain that your employees know how much they are valued and personally appreciated for their contributions to the company’s overall success.

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Here are a few suggestions regarding the offering of nontraditional benefits:

  • For new parents, what if you offered a little extra cash in the form of a gift card to help offset the costs associated with having a newborn in the house?

  • Freebies like once-a-month meals, special event tickets, company paid lunches, out-of-office freedom on birthdays, or yummy treats for your department tend to go over extremely well with employees.

  • People love their pets, so perhaps company-provided pet insurance would be a perk.

  • Recent graduates tend to appreciate employer assistance in paying off student loans, and it's one way to help retain employees.

  • Employees seeking to further their education could do so more easily with tuition reimbursement options.

  • Who doesn’t enjoy a fun, company-wide outing or party?

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  • Built-in gyms (or free gym memberships) and on-site daycare are also popular perks.

  • Food and retail discounts, even 10% off ones, can be very beneficial to the pocketbooks of hourly employees especially. Why not pursue these in the form of a company discount card and share?

  • Begin offering cancer or critical illness insurance options.

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  • Offer a limited but flexible amount of paid time off (PTO) to complete volunteer work in the local community or in areas devastated by natural disaster.

  • Offer 4-5 hours of flex time per month for employees to leave early and attend kids’ activities and events OR ½ day of flex time to leave early on Friday once per month to enjoy the afternoon or to manage doctor’s appointments, etc.

  • Offer the flexibility of telecommuting. This can benefit the person as well as the company.

  • Have an employee-of-the-month and provide them with free, on-site car detail service.

  • Allow employees to earn vacation time in incremental measurements rather than requiring them to work an entire year without vacation time.

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In summary, what happens when a business or an individual doesn't really have all that is needed to survive? Stress increases for the employee as well as for the company leaders. Yet stress can be relieved.

Discovering and incorporating new ways of meeting your employees' most practical needs can be a powerful tool in increasing both employee engagement and retention. Why not explore these options today? 

Contact Brannon Professionals today to learn more about our customized and cutting edge hiring tools.