Love 'em or Lose 'em: Getting Good People to Stay

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With replacement costs high and start-up time critical, employee retention is more valuable than ever. This best-selling guide provides 26 strategies to keep talented employees happy and productive. Citing research and experience with dozens of organizations, the authors present many examples of how today's companies have applied their retention strategies and increased their retention rates. The chapters are arranged alphabetically, from "Ask" to "Zenith." Each chapter includes a series of to-do lists, company ...

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With replacement costs high and start-up time critical, employee retention is more valuable than ever. This best-selling guide provides 26 strategies to keep talented employees happy and productive. Citing research and experience with dozens of organizations, the authors present many examples of how today's companies have applied their retention strategies and increased their retention rates. The chapters are arranged alphabetically, from "Ask" to "Zenith." Each chapter includes a series of to-do lists, company examples, and an "alas" story drawn from the authors' personal experiences. This edition features new tips and to-do lists, new stories, and additional research from the media and from the authors' own extensive database. There are also three new appendices: a troubleshooting guide, a guide to saying "thank you" in the workplace, and a reading group guide.

With every employee who walks out the door costing the company up to 200 percent of their annual salary to replace, retention is one of the most important issues facing businesses today. This book gives everyone from the CEO to the front-line supervisor solutions for keeping the employees they simply can't afford to lose.

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  • Sharon Jordan-Evans
    Sharon Jordan-Evans  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Many managers abdicate their employee-retention responsibilities because they believe keeping workers mainly involves money, perks and benefits -- areas out of their control. Based on two years of research into ways companies keep their best and brightest workers, consultants Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans conclude that assumption is dead wrong. "We believe that managers and supervisors have the most critical role to play in winning the race for talent." They then offer, in alphabetical order, 26 strategies for accomplishing that goal -- starting with "Ask: What Keeps You Here?" and ending with "Zenith: Go For It." Seeking ways to keep your best employees from walking out the door? Then learn the ABCs of employee retention as spelled out in this instructive, accessible work.

Related Titles:

Kaye, a career-development specialist, has also written Up Is Not the Only Way: A Guide to Developing Workforce Talent. If you're looking for help in bringing good workers on board in the first place, try Successful Hiring: A Practical Guide to Interviewing and Selecting Employees. Workers whose jobs have ended badly should check out Fired, Downsized or Laid Off : What Your Employer Doesn't Want You to Know About How to Fight Back.

Reviewed by MH - July 26, 2000

Kaye and Jordan-Evans are owners of consulting and training companies specializing in career development, mentoring, engagement, and retention. Written for business managers, their research-supported text contains 26 practical strategies for engaging and retaining good employees. All chapters have been updated, expanded or revised for the second edition, and the connection between engagement and retention made more explicit. A new supplementary guide at the back of the book provides a quick way for readers to get a brief overview of the 26 strategies. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781576755570
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publ Inc
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Series: Bk Business Series
  • Edition description: Fourth Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 8.06 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Beverly Kaye, president of Beverly Kaye & Associates, Inc., is an organizational consultant with over 20 years of experience in career development, management training, and human resource planning. She is also the president of Career Systems International, a career development publishing company, the author of Up Is Not the Only Way, and the coauthor of Designing Career Development Systems. She is coauthor, with Sharon Jordan-Evans, of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay.

Sharon Jordan-Evans has practiced organizational development for over 20 years, specializing in change management, leadership development, and executive coaching. She was a senior vice president for the Change Management Practice at Drake Beam Morin, one of the world's largest transition firms. She is currently president of the Jordan Evans Group, works with executive teams, and coaches senior leaders as they strive to improve morale, commitment, and productivity within their companies. She is coauthor, with Beverly Kaye, of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A.J.'s Exit
1 Ask: What Keeps You? 1
2 Buck: It Stops Here 9
3 Careers: Support Growth 15
4 Dignity: Show Respect 23
5 Enrich: Energize the Job 32
6 Family: Get Friendly 39
7 Goals: Expand Options 47
8 Hire: Fit Is It 56
9 Information: Share It 69
10 Jerk: Don't Be One 77
11 Kicks: Get Some 85
12 Link: Create Connections 93
13 Mentor: Be One 102
14 Numbers: Run Them 111
15 Opportunities: Mine Them 116
16 Passion: Encourage It 125
17 Question: Reconsider the Rules 133
18 Reward: Provide Recognition 143
19 Space: Give It 152
20 Truth: Tell It 163
21 Understand: Listen Deeper 172
22 Values: Define and Align 180
23 Wellness: Sustain It 186
24 X-ers: Handle with Care 196
25 Yield: Power Down 204
26 Zenith: Go For It 213
Notes 219
Index 224
About the Authors 235
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First Chapter

Sample Chapter from Chapter 2:

Buck: It Stops Here

I think my manager actually could have kept me. But I don't think he ever saw it as his job.

When we ask supervisors and managers how they keep good people, many immediately respond, "With money." Research suggests that 89 percent of managers truly believe it's largely about the money.1 These managers put the responsibility for keeping key people squarely in the hands of senior management. They blame organizational policies or pay scales for the loss of talent.

Well, the truth is, you matter most. If you are a manager at any level, a front-line supervisor or a project leader, you actually have more power than anyone else to keep your best employees. Why? Because the factors that drive employee satisfaction and commitment are largely within your control. And the factors that satisfy employees are the ones that keep them on your team. Those factors haven't changed much over the past 25 years. Many researchers2 who have studied retention agree on what satisfies people and therefore influences them to stay: meaningful, challenging work, a chance to learn and grow, fair compensation, a good work environment, recognition and respect. Don't you want that?

It's Up to You

A good boss who cares about employees will help talented people find those things in their work. We're not saying you travel this road alone. Senior management and your organization's policies, systems and culture have an impact on your ability to keep talented people. You may have human resources professionals who can help support your efforts. And yet, because of what research tells us about why people leave their jobs and organizations, you still have the greatest power (and responsibility) for keeping your talented employees.


There's nothing I can do about our brain drain. The competition is offering more money and better perks. We don't stand a chance.

-Manager, retail pharmacy

You do stand a chance. Your relationship with employees is key to their satisfaction and decisions to stay or leave. One study found that 50 percent of worklife satisfaction is determined by the relationship a worker has with his or her immediate boss.3 In other words, you matter.

Insofar as employee commitment exists, it is to the boss, to the team, and to the project. That's different from loyalty, which previously was to the name on the building or to the brand. Therefore, any retention strategy must be driven by individual managers and supervisors, not just the folks in human resources.

-President of Aon Consulting Institute

On the Line

Most of you are in charge of certain assets. You are held accountable for protecting those assets and for growing them. Today, your most critical assets are people, not property. Outstanding people give you and your organization a competitive advantage. Regardless of the job market, you no doubt want to hold on to your best. How are you doing that?

Are you responsible for selecting and keeping talented people? We heard of a CEO who charged $30,000 to a manager's operating budget because he needlessly lost a talented person. The buck really did stop there! We're not suggesting that managers be punished when their people are promoted or move on to learn something new. You will inevitably lose some talented employees occasionally, especially as they pursue their career dreams. But we do recommend that managers be held accountable for being good managers and for creating a retention culture where people feel motivated, cared about and rewarded.

Calling All Managers of Managers

If managers report to you, do you hold them accountable for the team they manage? How? You've probably heard the maxim that busy people do what is inspected not necessarily what is expected. Honest efforts to keep good people should be expected because those people build your business. If you do manage others, you may need to invent some inspection or accountability mechanisms. Here are some options.

TO DO . . .

  • Devise a Retention Commitment Process
  • List all 26 strategies in this book (use Table of Contents for summary) on a paper or electronic form. Or have your team narrow the 26 down to 10 or so that it thinks are the most appropriate for your culture.
  • Ask each of your managers or supervisors to commit to two that they are willing to implement within the next six months. Have them circle and initial those two and return a copy of the form to you.
  • Six months later, ask them to return their retention commitment forms to you with a description of what they did for each of the strategies they committed to.

TO DO . . .

  • Create a Retention Appraisal
  • List all chapter headings from this book on a form. (Or limit it to the ones you select, as above.)
  • Ask each of your managers to rate themselves on each strategy, using a one-to-five scale.
  • Then (if you dare . . . and if they dare) ask them to distribute blank forms to their direct reports. Let their direct reports tell it like it is by rating them on a one-to-five scale.
  • Reward those who get serious, and have a chat with those who don't.
Want one more?

TO DO . . .

  • Send the following memo (edit it to your liking) to your direct reports. Tape it to the front of this book. Hold a meeting in two weeks, and talk about their reactions.

To: Team

From: Your Manager

RE: Retaining the Talented People on Our Team

This memo is written to everyone who manages people. I need your help. I am concerned about the war for talent that I have been reading about and how it affects our work group. We want to be the best at what we do. We want not only to survive but to thrive in the coming years. Our success depends on our ability to recruit and retain the very finest people. Our talent is our competitive edge.

I think your role is critical. While pay, perks, and benefits do matter, people stay or leave based on other factors, many of which are actually in your hands.

So here is my request. Read this book. As you read it, think about what you are currently doing to retain the talent on your team. Pick just one retention strategy from the A-Z list provided in this book. Give it a try. See what happens. I want to know about it.

I'm calling a series of monthly meetings. We'll all talk about the strategies that work and those that don't. Read the "ALAS" stories too. I think we'll have some of our own to add to the list. Let's talk about why they happened-and how to prevent more of them.

First meeting: Conference Room A at 8:30.

If you're not a manager of managers, hold yourself accountable. Look at the talented people you are responsible for leading and for keeping in the organization. Decide which strategies in this book you could use right away to increase the odds that they will stay.

So They Go

So what? Can't you just replace them? You might be able to replace your key people, but at what cost? Multiple research studies suggest that the cost of replacing key people runs between 70 and 200 percent of the person's annual salary. One study found that the top three reasons for implementing retention programs in organizations are:4

See Numbers

Losing an employee costs between 6 and 18 months' pay.

Hi-tech workers, professionals and managers cost twice as much as other employees to replace.

Many hidden costs are incurred through lost sales and lost customers.

Even if you can afford to replace them, will you be able to find talented replacements? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be 151 million jobs by the year 2006 and 141 million people employed. Many of those workers will be working two jobs.5 Alan Greenspan declared in February 1999 that the limiting factor to the U.S. continued economic growth is people. He said that there are simply not enough people to feed the economic machine.

Meanwhile we read about and other organizations being sued for talent theft. The message is clear. Talented people are scarce and will continue to be scarce. If you have them working on your team, you had better try your best to keep them.

TO DO . . .

  • Pay attention to the research about what keeps people. Note that most of the proven strategies are within your control.
  • If you manage managers, hold them accountable for hiring and keeping good people in the organization. Establish clear expectations and measure results. People will do what is inspected more than what is expected.
  • Do just one thing. Choose a chapter in this book and try a strategy. See how it works. Modify and adapt it to fit your needs. Then try another.

Bottom Line

The buck really does stop here. You have the power to greatly influence your talented employees' decisions about staying on your team. Show that you care about them and their needs. Remember them. Notice them. Listen to them. Thank them. Love them or lose them.
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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted January 21, 2014

    Love ¿em or Lose ¿em: Getting Good People to Stay / 26 Engagemen

    Love ‘em or Lose ‘em: Getting Good People to Stay / 26 Engagement Strategies for Busy Managers by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans

    Love ‘em or Lose ‘em. Catchy title, right? But that’s not what caught my attention; it was the allure of the sub-title, Getting Good People to Stay.  As a basically satisfied employee who has left a number of jobs over my 30+ career years, I thought it would be interesting to explore reasons for my defections from seemingly fulfilling positions.  That was my intent, but I was rewarded with a deeper level of insight than expected cemented with memorable key factors.

    Since the book is predicated on 26 strategies, it makes sense that the authors use alliteration to represent each of the strategies. From A – Ask to Z – Zenith, each chapter describes the context of the strategy, tells a story explaining how this strategy was used, then follows up with a simple, short action items list and a bottom line summary.  The authors use a unique treatment of topic mapping that give veritable memory reinforcements throughout the book in an easy to follow, and fun to read style. 

    Here’s one of my favorites. The chapter L – Linking describes the purpose and value in creating connections. The premise is employees need to feel that they are connected within your organization through links to people, purpose, or profession. For each category, suggestions are made on how links are established and strengthened with a section on teaching them to link.  In the margin to the side of this section is an arrow labeled ‘Go to Mentor Page 120' that maps this topic to another chapter which further enhances this strategy of linking.   

    There’s an entire chapter devoted to the attitudes and behaviors of diverse age groups in the workforce. Appropriately named X – Xers and others: Handle with Care.  Each age group is discussed with commonalities often attributed to each, but with recognition that these are assumed generalizations. 

    Adding value and interest to the book are interspersed self-assessment questionnaires. One of my favorites: What is a Jerk? The reader is prompted to rate themselves on a scale of 0 to 5 on 50 behaviors such as: Humiliate and embarrass others, Interrupt constantly, Demand perfection,  and Steal credit or the spotlight from others.

    The Run the Numbers assessment asks the reader to state a dollar amount for the cost of replacing an employee. Among the costs listed are Ads, Referral Bonuses, Work put on hold until replacement is on board, Overload on team – including overtime during selection process, and that is only a few of the costs to replace a good employee. 

    Overall, this book Love ‘em or Lose ‘em: Getting Good People to Stay is an excellent resource to have in your toolbox as a manager of one person or 50. This statement early in the book seemed to be thematic “Engaging and keeping your talent is a process, not an event.”  I recommend this book as one to put into practice, not just use as an ornament on your bookshelf. 

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  • Posted January 21, 2014

    Yeah ¿ another book about engaging and retaining good employees.

    Yeah … another book about engaging and retaining good employees. 
    You’d think we would be past needing this information by now, but anyone who works in or with organizations to help them create employee engagement will tell you we are not there yet.

    However, Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans may just move us over that goal line, IF you read it and use it as the authors have designed it to be used.
    Here’s what I liked most about this book:

    1)      Neatly organized to help us hone in on our greatest development needs …
    After brief introductory remarks, you self-assess your employee interaction behaviors with numerical values in twenty-six areas related to an alphabetical list of chapters.  Then you receive a general overview of what your aggregate scores means.  Nothing really new here, but good information.
    The real value is when you are directed to go to the page which corresponds with your lowest scores.  Mine was “E ~ think employees should tell you if they are not feeling challenged in their work?”   I rated this one as a “1” which means “Always/Definitely Yes”.
    In my own defense, I was thinking about encouraging employees to speak up for themselves by creating a safe space.

    I then visited chapter five ~ “Enrich:  Energize the Job” and received a short, but intensively well-organized and useful discussion of “job enrichment”, which I vaguely remembered from my human resources days.   I wish my master’s textbooks had been written in such clear and helpful language, with down-to-earth advice on how to make jobs more interesting and engaging.

    2)      Based on solid, deep, and broad research …
    I am one of those people who usually turn to the index before I read anything in a book, looking for familiar terms and names.  I expect to see certain citations and topics in the organization of the book.  You get some sense of the sources from chapter headings in many books, although not this one.
    I was pleasantly surprised to see a large amount of research cited from leadership, management, human behavior, and popular culture.  The background materials upon which the authors base this book are broad and they go deep.  This is solid stuff, rather than the “flavor of the month” type of books which too often predominate leadership and management titles.

    3)      I like the authors …
    The authors are long-time and well-equipped contributors to our knowledge about how to lead and manage more effectively.   
    True Confession time … I did not read any of the four previous versions of this book.  However, I have read, enjoyed, and shared other books co-authored by each of these folks.  So I cannot compare this fifth edition to those earlier ones … I don’t need to, because it stands quite nicely on its own feet.

    Bottom Line … Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans is clear, easy to read, and attractively designed.  You don’t even notice how well-constructed it is or the richness of the underlying research.

    Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans is the bestselling guide that provides twenty-six strategies to keep talented employees happy and productive. In addition to updating and revising all information for the fifth edition, the authors have included more international stories and statistics. Available January 2014 on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere!

    Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book for review in conjunction with their launch.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    Love this book! I borrowed it from a co-worker and then decided

    Love this book! I borrowed it from a co-worker and then decided to get my own copy. Although many of the solutions scream of common sense solutions, it is a sad reminder that there is nothing common about common sense! I suppose that sometimes it helps to see it in print.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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