“People join companies but leave managers” is a common quote. A study done by the Saratoga Institute found that the relationship a worker has with his or her immediate boss is the main reason why people stay or quit a job. And, The Corporate Leadership Council noted that the quality of management is extremely important in retaining key talent.

In other words, managers play a crucial role in employee retention. Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordon-Evans, authors of Love ’em or Lose ’em, write that the best managers, whose employees want to keep working for them, do several things well. According to Kaye and Jordon-Evans, good managers provide their employees with honest feedback, respect differences, listen, empower their workers, and create an enjoyable work environment.

So, in tune with the lyrics of the Paul Simon song, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, here is what you need to do to keep, not lose, your employees:

  1. Slip out the back, Jack. As Kaye and Jordon-Evans suggest, empower your employees. Create a strategic vision and communicate it. Develop clear job descriptions. Ask employees for their input and ideas. Then let them do their job and get out of the way.
  2. Make a new plan, Stan. Describe your company culture in job ads. Interview job candidates for fit. And conduct reference checks with fit in mind.
  3. You don’t need to be coy, Roy. Link vacation time and stock options to tenure. Reward good performance.
  4. Just set yourself free. Communicate changes ahead of time so employees know what is coming down the pike, why change is happening, and how those changes will affect them. Anticipate and expect questions.
  5. Hop on the bus, Gus. Provide new employees with social on-boarding activities that will help them get to know their co-workers like treasure hunts, tours, meet and greets, company training, buddy programs, and mentoring programs.
  6. You don’t need to discuss much. Offer a competitive compensation package so employees won’t be seduced away by higher wages and better benefits.
  7. Just drop off the key, Lee. Provide training and development to allow employees to learn new skills.
  8. And get yourself free. Last, go back to what the research says and train your managers on the skills needed to retain top talent … like providing helpful performance feedback, being a good listener, respecting differences, and creating a satisfying workplace.

I am curious. What are your top retention strategies? In your experience, what works best and what doesn’t work so well?