Retaining Employees Up North

A four point plan for employee retention

If you do hiring, you know it can be difficult to convince employees to stick around through our sometimes challenging Northland weather.

With unemployment at historic lows and demand for workers high, economic conditions favor employees who are looking for something different. According to estimates, many are actively searching for a new job or plan to start looking in the next few months.

How do you keep them on board?

One approach is to draw on our region’s strengths. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin rank high in terms of natural environment, education, health care, economy, and other criteria. Combined, these perks add up into a benefits package all their own!

For example, maybe the new candidates you’re interviewing want to move here so they can go camping on the weekends, or hit the trails after they clock out. Something as simple as being able to head down to the lake over lunch break could be a deciding factor, so don’t discount details like these during the negotiation process!

Another bargaining chip: is an online directory to resources, activities, events, and more. Consider sharing this site with potential new hires to help them connect with housing, transportation options, and other forms of support they might need in order to be able to accept your job offer.

Beyond the Northland’s unique selling points, a good retention plan doesn’t necessarily have to rely on sign-on bonuses and other types of benefits. Instead, suggests that “the drivers go much deeper into the human psyche to the actions and attitudes that make employees feel successful, secure, and appreciated.”

Entrepreneur’s recipe for an effective employee retention plan emphasizes these four points:


“Human beings are often the happiest when they’re in the process of achieving a goal,” states Entrepreneur. “Clear, achievable objectives that gauge personal, team, and company performance provide the feedback employees need to confirm they’re making valuable contributions and accomplishing desirable goals.” Set measurable objectives and reward employees for meeting goals in a way that recognizes how their talents and capabilities are benefiting the business. When this process is concrete, employees “begin to develop a sense of belonging and a feeling that your company is their company.”


Set up a “communications process that’s structured to inform, emphasize and reaffirm to employees that their workplace contributions are having an impact,” suggests Entrepreneur. “An effective and sensitive communications plan can provide you with insight on exactly what’s driving employee morale and how your staff members feel about your company.”


“Remember that people don’t begin their employment with you as loyal employees, but will develop loyalty over time as they’re trusted, respected, and appreciated by you.” How do you increase employee loyalty? There are many ways, but a good starting point is to make clear to the employee exactly how they are needed, and therefore appreciated. Also be sure that employees have a crystal clear understanding of the company vision. A shared vision ties employee success to the company’s success.

Competitive Advantage

Why should employees stay with you and not go to a competitor? Identify and emphasize the qualities that are unique to your organization, including company culture. “What sets your company apart from your competition?” asks Entrepreneur. “How are you, your employees, and your company making a difference in your industry, in your community, and for your customers?” Take the time to get on the same page with your employees on these points.

Find more resources for employee retention here

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