Three Leadership Skills That Improve Employee Retention

business women wearing a grey sweaterBuilding an effective and thriving employee experience depends wholly on the success of your employees. And, leaders of organizations are tasked not only with business success but with a responsibility to try and understand how to connect more positively with their co-workers and drive cultures that create psychological safety and recognition.

Kim Brimhall, an assistant professor of social work at Binghamton University, found that developing an inclusive culture was one of the most effective, low-cost ways to boost employee retention. So, what can a company leader do in order to develop a culture of inclusion in the workplace to boost employee retention?  A lot of it surprisingly comes down to concrete, interpersonal skills. We’ve outlined the three key leadership skills to help improve employee retention:

    • Learn how to listen: In order to be a good listener, you need to be empathetic and convey understanding. Understand not only the words your employees are saying, but how they’re saying it. Pay attention to their body language and their emotions. Let them speak and don’t interrupt them. Remember to respond, not react. HRMorning provides a useful distinction between the two: ‘A response is a balance of thought and emotion, and often includes a question so you can better understand. A reaction is mostly an emotional action that lacks thought and understanding of what the other person said.’
    • Be transparent and honest: If an employee asks you about an ongoing issue in the company, respond honestly and directly. If the issue is too sensitive and you can’t divulge details, express that. But barring that, tell her as as much as you can to make her feel trusted and part of the team. By making her feel informed and secure, they will in turn feel more motivated and included in the company going forward.
    • Build genuine trust: According to Paul Zak of the Harvard Business Review, ‘“Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate better with their colleagues, and stay with their employers longer than people working at low-trust companies”.’ Building genuine trust means addressing any elements of fear that crop up at the workplace: most specifically, the fear of failure. Address these problems head on by giving your employees the freedom to experiment, to fail, and to learn from their hits and misses. By giving your employees the space to be themselves and to be creative, they’ll achieve far more than you ever could have imagined.


Whether you’re an individual contributor, manager or leader of your organization, always remember the critical value of your employees and their contribution to your business success. A CEO of a software company reported that a single talented sales engineer was directly responsible for driving half of the $200 million price he achieved upon exit. Want to dig in more? Ask yourself five more of  the most important questions employees are asking themselves today when it comes to working at your company.


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