In the current business environment, we see more employee mobility than ever before. It seems that professionals jump from one job, or even career, to another before they can even get their 401K set up. This may seem like an exaggeration, but everyone reading this article who has been in a management position or has been in charge of hiring knows how close to the truth this is. Employees are always seeking something new or different; more pay, better benefits, a culture that fits them better, or just a more enjoyable job. So how can a company with poor retention, or even one with good retention, improve this? The two main methods of improving retention and obtaining top talent are compensation (pay, benefits, etc.) and culture.

The trap that many managers and business owners get caught up in is assuming that as long as you pay the best, you don’t need to worry so much about culture.


From what I have seen among my clients, culture plays such an important role in retention. Most people I have asked have said that although pay is important, the main reason they LEAVE an organization is management. That doesn’t necessarily mean the company as a whole, but they usually have one or two managers they had a particularly difficult time working with and felt it was best to leave. I don’t care how much you pay employees, if you don’t have good management, your retention will always suffer!

Gallup’s Study – 12 Questions

The Gallup Organization did a huge, groundbreaking study to measure a strong workplace: one that would attract and retain the best employees and avoid the job-hoppers. The study consisted of 12 questions Gallup asked 105,000 employees across 2,500 business units in 24 companies. The study concluded that the manager – not pay, perks, benefits, or a charismatic corporate leader matters most for retention.

The 12 questions they asked are as follows:

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does my superior, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
  7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
  9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do I have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
  12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

They found that these twelve questions were the simplest and most accurate way to measure the strength of a workplace. If your employees can positively respond to these questions, you will know that you have built a great workplace.

Try to honestly ask these questions of yourself and of your employees. Consider how designing a company culture around these 12 questions will improve performance.