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Overturning turnover with a little TLC

How do you keep employees from walking away? It's not all about stock options or holiday bonuses. Sometimes it's simply communication and a clearer appreciation of employees.

"Everywhere I go, every company I work with, I hear [employees say] 'Be more appreciative of what I do,' " says Greg Smith, president of Chart Your Course International, a management-development firm based in Conyers, Ga.

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A new survey of 3,000 employees, posted at the company's Web site (www.chartcourse.com), found that 30 percent of a company's employees contemplate leaving a company at any one time. It also found that the primary factor that drove 35 percent of respondents away from a previous job was a strained relationship with a boss.

"When it comes right down to it, people stay if they feel they are valued," says Paul Ahr, co-author of "Overturn Turnover" (Causeway Publishing). "Managers need to know what their [employee's] career agenda is and then try to make sure that at least a portion of their job is building toward that agenda."

Management experts note that there is usually a period between when an employee decides to leave, and his or her actual departure. During that time, a well-attuned boss can persuade an employee to stay by concentrating on relationship-based management.

Managers, Smith says, need to offer more than platitudes. "Many talk about their work/life flex benefits, but expect people to be in the office on weekends."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society