From Nearly Quitting To CEO: Bert Bean’s Lessons On Retaining Talent

Two employees working at a desk and laughing.

This article originally appeared in Forbes, authored by Insight Global CEO Bert Bean.

As I sit in my office one late Friday afternoon, I take a look around. I see the massive paper chain link hanging from my ceiling that looks more like an art sculpture enveloping my entire office; each link represents a promotion for someone here at my company who has shown grit, tenacity and given light to the world around them. I take a look through the glass doors and down the halls, and while they may be emptier than before due to our hybrid work model, I see people who are genuinely happy and fulfilled.

What I’ve described seems polar opposite to the challenges facing the American worker. As reported by HRTech, a study by my company found that today’s employees want more, including more money, more flexibility to work remotely or both to help combat the rising cost of living. As business leaders, it’s our job to take a close look at what this means for our employees and seek ways to help alleviate this burden to ensure we keep our best talent. And, many times, the solution sits right in front of us.

There was a pivotal moment in my career when I made the decision to leave my current company. I was going to switch industries and start a new job. My boss was incredibly kind and told me to go and experience another company’s interview process. It was a wild feeling to know you had a “freebie” of sorts and did not have to sneak behind anyone’s back.

Do you know what I learned? No company is perfect. Instead of starting all over, maybe I should try to work through my frustrations, which were largely the result of me not communicating my needs. I needed to be my own best advocate. In my experience, many bosses want their employees to be happy and will do what they can to accommodate them. But they aren’t mind readers. I also learned to appreciate the relationship equity I had built with my work family. I would have thrown away years of relationships, rather than stay and learn to leverage those relationships as a source of growth and support. It turns out that it was the right decision for me to stay.

I tell this story because it’s critical as we enter a new phase of these volatile times, one that is bringing some of the highest rates of economic inflation in 40 years. While it’s up to leaders to attract and retain the right talent, it’s also up to them to change, evolve and grow to avoid the potential pitfalls of losing that talent. Here are three tips to keep top of mind to retain your employees during this historic time and onward.

Culture is Key

Culture is at the core of employee retention. It must be genuine and authentic to the company’s character. Take a good, hard look at your company’s shared values and purpose, and make sure they align with your culture. When employees are engaged in the culture, they will less likely want to leave.

Ask Questions

Find out if your employees are unhappy and what you can do to help. Is it more than just their salary? (It probably is.) Do your people know they are seen? Is something happening at the office or at home that you can help course-correct? Perhaps, most importantly, ask yourself: As a leader, do I make my people feel worthwhile?

Grow your people personally, professionally, and financially

Nothing goes further with employees than demonstrating that as a leader, you are genuinely interested in developing them. Understand their goals, and work with them to create a career road map to help them achieve those goals. Encourage them to take advantage of learning tools and internal resources to develop their skill set.

The answer to the awkward turnover question comes down to this: communication. An employer and an employee need to have open and honest communication at all times. It can be awkward, frustrating, emotional or even contentious at times. But isn’t that the way it goes with all our important relationships? We do the messy work of communicating, so we can create a better future together. The employer-employee relationship is no different. Together, you are both the solution to a productive and satisfying work life.

Even with today’s financial challenges that have come roaring our way after an extremely difficult and unpredictable two years, I’m confident that with a little bit of listening—and a lot of heart—employees and employers will find their way, one link at a time.

Need help finding talented employees? Visit Insight Global's Staffing Services page to get started.