The Little Things Matter in Employee Retention

The Little Things Matter in Employee Retention

By Staci Hegarty, M.Ed.

The statistics are well known. It takes 50% (or more) of an employee’s annual salary to replace them if they leave. Unemployment is at a 50-year low. Competition for talented employees is fierce. Baby Boomers will all be at
traditional retirement in 2030, contributing millions of roles to the labor shortage. Companies are struggling with work-from-home policies, the introduction of AI into our daily lives, skyrocketing health insurance costs, and the need for a global workforce.

On average, workers leave companies after only four years. The days of decades of loyalty to an employer are gone. This is not because employees are fickler, but because the grass may truly be greener somewhere else. Few jobs reward that kind of loyalty anymore. Pensions only exist in a handful of industries. 401k matching is becoming rare. Employees have been prioritizing work-life balance more than ever. Few families can afford to have a stay-at-home parent, which means working parents must walk a tightrope between their professional goals and their personal obligations. An annual cost of living raise will not be enough to retain high-potential or high-contributing employee.

Rather than compete for new employees, it is more cost-effective and productive to invest in your existing employees. Our jobs are more than a paycheck. They are where we spend about a quarter of our lives. Studies show that our boss has a greater impact on our mental health than a doctor or therapist, with influence that is comparable to that of our life partners. Leaders who are connected to their employees on a personal level create one of the most important aspects of a healthy workplace, a sense of belonging for their employees. When employees feel cared for, they are less inclined to leave.


Opportunities for growth and promotion are another significant factor in employee retention. Not every employee will be promoted to a leadership role, and not every employee wants that. Professional development, formal mentorship programs, and upskilling is a benefit to both the employee and the organization and have been proven to increase employee engagement and retention. An employee who is underperforming in their current role may benefit from a lateral move to another department. An entry level employee may become more invested in their work if they are part of a leadership succession program. Most people don’t need to have an immediate promotion or change but will be more engaged when they are actively participating in something that helps them develop their skills for the future.

Recognition is another known factor in employee retention. Annual recognition awards are common. While important, these awards are not as impactful as frequent, informal recognition. A simple moment of praise during the weekly department meeting, done sincerely and regularly, can improve an employee’s mindset and connection with work. Recognition does not have to be for extremely high performance, it can and should include praise for the little things that help make the big things happen. Leaders should always be on the lookout for the actions and behaviors that may otherwise go unnoticed, especially from people who have jobs that are not high-profile or consistently celebrated. Praise for the salesperson who lands a big account is obvious and expected, praise for the marketing specialist who caught a typo in a mass email before it went out may not be as obvious or expected. When we feel like our contribution matters, we feel more
connected to the organization.

Leaders do not have control over everything in their market or industry. They do not have control over the economic climate of the country. What they DO have control over is what they do to let their employees know that their role is important, and their work is not invisible. Recognize, reward, and promote your existing employees and they will return that energy with greater engagement, innovation, and loyalty. If you aren’t sure what your employee engagement plan is missing, connect with our experts at Envision RISE to transform your organization’s employee retention efforts at

Better Relationships for Effective Change Management

Better Relationships for Effective Change Management

By Staci Hegarty, M.Ed.

70% of organizational change initiatives are unsuccessful. The workforce itself is undergoing dramatic changes in age, education, gender, race/ethnicity, and disability. More than 50% of jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet, with some estimates as high as 85%.

We are in the midst of the fastest, most significant period of change the global workforce has ever experienced. We are seeing people resist change ranging from subtle to unhinged. Others have adopted a “we have the means, let’s just do it and deal with the consequences later” attitude. The rest of us are left confused, uncomfortable, and uncertain, knowing that we need to prepare ourselves and are unsure how to do it. Change has arrived and we have a track record of doing it poorly.

If you are unfamiliar with the term “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, you are already behind. Get caught up here. . This is driving the most impactful changes, such as robotics, AI and machine learning. For now, much of this technology is still in its infancy for the average person. For example, AI is constantly generating human images with six fingers on each hand and much of AI-generated text reads like an essay written by a high schooler studying for the SAT. But this period of learning will not last long. We must be ready to adapt.

The changes are more than technological. In the US, women account for more than 56% of the workforce. People of color accounted for 100% of the workforce growth in the past five years (601 million jobs), while non-Hispanic white workers shrank by 817,000 during the same time period. By 2030, all Baby Boomers will reach the traditional retirement age of 65 and nearly 30% of the workforce will be Gen Z. 12.5% of Americans speak Spanish as their first language, a number that is growing.

Simply put, if it seems like everything is changing, that is because everything IS changing. Yet we know humans do not “do change” very well. We like our comfort zones. Yet it is possible to build a workplace culture that embraces transformation. The first step is to teach people HOW to change. Fear of the unknown is a shared human experience, even when the unknown is a positive thing. For example, bringing a new baby into your family is exciting but terrifying. Even if you already have children, the addition of another will fundamentally change the family dynamic. You won’t know exactly how that will happen until it happens, being open and flexible will make the reality less jarring.

To effectively lead your organization through change you must focus on your relationships. It seems easier to adopt the stance that, “I’m the boss, they need to do what I tell them.” But if this has become your go-to management technique, your team will struggle with new undertakings. For change initiatives to be successful, people need to have a greater understanding of the reasons why the change is necessary. Trust and open communication will give your workforce the freedom to ask questions and give feedback. Both of these things are a two-way street and are built in small ways every day. From something as simple as sincerely asking how someone is doing or remembering the names of their children, every time you have a personal interaction with a colleague you can either build your relationship or tear it down.

Before embarking on a change initiative, provide training on, organizational change management, active listening and conflict resolution to your entire workforce. These skills will allow for open communication between all levels of the organization and offer solutions for when disagreements occur. Envision RISE offers courses virtually, in person, and online. For more information on training options, contact us at

The Blueprint for Successful Mentorship Programs

The Blueprint for Successful Mentorship Programs in the Workplace

By Staci Hegarty, M.Ed.

Mentorship has long been touted as one of the most effective ways to not only improve employee retention and engagement, but also to create a diverse and expansive pool of internal candidates for future roles. Yet many organizations abandon their efforts at mentorship programs due to a perceived lack of positive outcomes. Giving up on mentorship tells employees that the company is either not invested in their growth and development or does not have the expertise to nurture employee development. In short, it tells employees they would rather hire someone from the outside than work to upskill their existing workforce. Here we outline a blueprint for mentorship to help guide the way.

Creating and executing a mentorship program requires planning and hands-on project management.

Too often it is assumed that the program can “run itself” because mentors are already proficient at their jobs and mentees have already shown high potential. Excelling at a specific job does not always translate into excelling at being part of a mentoring pair. That is like expecting the top salesperson to become a stellar sales manager without training.

It is critical that the desired outcomes and expectations for the mentorship program are clearly established from the beginning. These goals and aims should not come from one person or department, but from a cross-section of departments and roles across the organization. Once the desired outcomes are established, ensure that there are adequate resources available to achieve those goals. This is not just financial resources, but time and talent resources to start, monitor, and maintain the program. If no one is available to lead the program, consider obtaining assistance from a third party. Organizations such as Envision RISE have experts who can take on this responsibility instead of delegating the work internally.

Mindful Pairing: Building Successful Mentor-Mentee Relationships

Be mindful in how you pair mentors and mentees. Avoid pairing people who already have a reporting relationship, otherwise mentorship will devolve into mere training on departmental tasks. Mentorship is about providing professional growth, not remediation or creating an informal management role within a particular department. Leadership succession planning may include the idea of future promotion within the department and may be included as a specific learning opportunity for the mentee within the larger scope of the mentoring program.

Equipping Leaders for Effective Guidance

Train your mentors. Do not assume that someone knows how to be a mentor, even if they are already in a leadership role. Clearly delineate the scope of the program, expectations for time invested each week, and provide a roadmap for topics and deliverables.

Set expectations with the mentees. They need to be an active participant in the mentoring relationship. This may mean they need assistance in learning to clearly communicate their needs, accepting feedback, and building their skill set.

Consistent Progress Monitoring: The Key to Successful Mentorship Programs

Monitor progress frequently. Mentoring programs are not “set and forget”. It requires consistent monitoring and feedback. For example, it may become clear early on that a particular pairing is not working as intended. With open communication, this will be caught early and adjustments can be made to the pairing so that both the mentor and mentee have a good experience.

Stick to your timeline. The program should begin and end on specific dates. Allowing the formal mentoring relationship to drag on will result in complacency for both parties. Extensions to the program can be made if there are good reasons, such as one of the pair being out on extended leave.

Undertaking Mentorship Programs with Care

Continue to follow the mentee cohort throughout their tenure with the organization. When the formal mentoring ends, informal mentoring and sponsorship should take its place. Not every mentee will become a sponsee/protégé, which does not mean they are not an asset to the company. Tracking their career progression will provide data to help assess the effectiveness of the program.

Mentorship programs should not be undertaken lightly. When done well, these programs encourage growth and innovation, and may be a source of previously unrecognized potential. Envision RISE can help craft a mentorship program that fits the needs of your organization. For more information, contact Staci Hegarty at