The drivers of retention. Team Intelligence at it’s best.

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Does your retention strategy address the needs of your team? 

It’s well reported the real costs of staff turnover and the benefits of having a good retention strategy. So in an effort to crack the code on employee engagement and ultimately retention, here are 5 small things you can do to keep your team members engaged by meeting their needs.

The first step in keeping your best and brightest engaged and committed, you need to truly understand them. We recently talked about popular and successful ways organisations are working to understand and make better connections with their teams.  

Here we look at how to address fundamental human needs based on Abraham Maslow’s theory with easy to implement communication strategies to help you connect with your employee’s needs because when their needs are met they don’t ‘need’ to be going anywhere else.

Maslow’s Hierarchy has often been used in psychology, marketing, and still underpins many popular platforms on goal setting and leadership including the popular LSI – personal development tool.

Here’s a quick refresher on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (thanks to The Business Directory)

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has often been represented in the form of a five-level pyramid. The four levels (lower-order needs) are considered physiological needs, while the top level of the pyramid is considered growth needs. Maslow theorised that the lower level needs must be satisfied before higher-order needs can influence behaviour.

More often these days we find that one does not need to be satisfied by the lower levels, but certainly, there are still some very applicable correlations to employee engagement, retention leadership and motivation.  The levels are as follows

  • Self-actualisation – includes morality, creativity, problem-solving, etc. (top level)
  • Esteem – includes confidence, self-esteem, achievement, respect, etc.
  • Belongingness – includes love, friendship, intimacy, family, etc.
  • Safety – includes security of environment, employment, resources, health, property, etc.
  • Physiological – includes air, food, water, sex, sleep, other factors towards homeostasis, etc.

How to keep your team members engaged by meeting their needs

Give Praise (confidence, self-esteem, achievement, respect, security of employment)

Research shows that emotionally smart leaders who are in the practice of praising and complimenting their teams are bound to see more good quality performance. Firms involved in a Gallup Organisation study found that workers who receive positive recognition on a daily basis increase their productivity, have a greater degree of loyalty, and satisfaction scores from customers. Overall, they were more engaged and inclined to remain with their organisation.

One small thing you can do today? Acknowledge good work. Send an email, put it in a newsletter or intranet, walk up and tell someone, tell the person, tell the team.

Listen Up (respect, security of employment, resources)

Gallup research also showed the 5th most common management error that results in turnover is the failure to listen and understand employees. And based on her 20 years of work with large scale corporates in sales, service, communication, learning and development, Gabriella Horak, wholeheartedly agrees.

“Listening is fundamental to effective communication and building trust. The best leaders listen to their teams receptively and without judgment on their dreams, passions, fears, joys, goals and also aspirations – which makes them feel validated and understood. Teams who trust each other are more productive, provide excellent service, and feel a higher degree of loyalty.  

One small thing you can do today? One strategy Gabriella encourages teams to implement is to kick off meetings by asking around the table “What are you grateful for today?” It’s a brilliant way to get teams sharing meaningfully, listening, and connecting with everyone in the room having the opportunity to be heard on a matter that is important to them.

Give Feedback, informally (Safety)

Safety is a fundamental human need. Your employees need to know where they stand – today and in the long run. One of the best ways a team leader can do this is to provide regular feedback on performance and clarify goals, especially during times of change. The trouble with feedback is that it is often heard like criticism which could counter the feeling of safety.

One small thing you can do today? Start incorporating a culture where feedback is welcomed and acknowledged for the powerful fuel it is for breakthroughs in growth and development. Set up the right environment for casual, non-confrontational feedback. Buy a coffee, ask questions around the issue, listen and remove any sense of judgment.

Be approachable and ask questions (physiological, belongingness)

How are you going to know if your colleague or team member’s physiological needs are being met? By checking in, being approachable, asking questions about their well being and needs. It’s that easy.

One small thing you can do today towards being approachable? Smile, connect, say “hello” to team members you pass. Ask them how they are going.

Value unique contribution (belongingness, Self-actualisation)

There’s a lot to be said about how we contribute to an organisation, but sadly, it’s often not communicated. However, teams who understand and appreciate the value of each other’s role have a better chance of success in their working relationships. What’s more, people like to feel like they are contributing; that their function makes a difference –  and making a difference is one of the greatest human motivators.

One small thing you can do today? Share someone’s win or achievement. It doesn’t have to be big. Give them the opportunity to see first hand the human impact their role/function makes and help others to see their unique value, building on the company’s Team Intelligence™.


Getting started on building a workplace environment your team will want to stay in can start today with one small step.

As Jeff Olson of The Slight Edge says, “Any time you see what looks like a breakthrough, it is always the end result of a long series of little things, done consistently over time.”


What’s one thing you can do today toward employee engagement and retention?