Improve employee retention through better management

Bad managementHow often have you been chatting to a friend, asked them why they left their last job and received a response along the lines of “I needed more of a challenge” or “I outgrew the position”? My guess would be not often. Far more likely is for your friend to state “I couldn’t work with my boss.”

The work may be stimulating, the team great, but if your manager is unbearable to work with how many of us would put up with it for long? It seems that companies lose good employees on a regular basis due to bad management, all the while company Directors try to address employee attrition by developing strategies to improve employee retention, without thorough investigation of the route cause of the problem.

Employee retention is a real problem that all managers face. The key to being able to keep the good employees is not so much the salary you offer them or even the actual work, it is more about how you manage them and how they feel working under you as their manager. Do they feel valued within your team? Do you provide them with timely feedback? Do they feel your support as a manager leading their team or company?

Address the 3 key needs of individuals and improve employee retention

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. As a manager we are able to affect three levels of needs within this hierarchy – safety, love & belonging and esteem. These 3 levels represent different elements within the workplace.


The first level refers to job security, career progression as well as health benefits and perhaps even gym membership. How do your employees feel about their job? Are they constantly afraid of cuts due to the recession? Do they know that as a manager you care about their wellbeing as well as their work?

Love and belonging

People want to feel as if they are making a difference and are part of something bigger. As a manager how you approach giving out tasks, mentoring employees and interacting with them show how much you value their work. It is your duty as a manager to show employees how their work is making a difference and is part of a much larger plan. The worst thing for an employee is for them to think they are just another cog in a machine.


This refers to confidence and respect. It is important to manage your staff in terms of how they feel towards the work and to their peers and managers. Respect within the workplace is extremely important and can be the difference between keeping a good employee or losing them. Training and development when necessary is a good way to boost confidence and equip staff with the right skills. Investing in your staff to help them upskill benefits both the company and the employees.

Managers can improve employee retentionThe impact of an abusive or poor manager

A Florida State University (FSU) professor and two of his doctoral students have conducted a study which highlights the impacts of an abusive or poor manager/boss. They surveyed over 700 people who work in a variety of jobs and asked for their opinions of supervisor treatment on the job.The study revealed these results:

  • 39%: Their supervisor failed to keep promises
  • 37%: Their supervisor failed to give credit when due
  • 31%: Their supervisor gave them the “silent treatment” in the past year
  • 27%: Their supervisor made negative comments about them to other employees or managers
  • 24%: Their supervisor invaded their privacy
  • 23%: Their supervisor blames others to cover up mistakes or minimize embarrassment

These points act as a good checklist to see how you are managing your staff and will help you to improve employee retention, because at the end of the day employees leave managers, not companies!




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