By Dan Simmons

A few weeks ago, I contrasted two fictitious feed mills, Reward Manufacturing, and Run-of-the Milling.  The two mills I drove past looked nearly identical from the outside, prompting me to wonder what about the companies was different and what about them would make a candidate choose one over the other.

The overriding point of this two-part series is that it’s not about the money.  When the compensation offered to candidates is the same, other factors are involved in the candidate’s decision-making process.

A Study in Contrasts
Once again, I will address several prominent areas in which Reward Manufacturing and Run-of-the-Milling differ in how they run their operations. As you’ll see, those differences are the key to how well they retain their employees.

First up is Reward Manufacturing

“The officials at Reward Manufacturing strive to create a culture of recognition for their employees. They understand that consistent written and/or verbal recognition can go a long way. They also recognize that their employees want to know how they can advance their careers within the company and get to the next level. That next level might mean a promotion, or it might not. Not every employee wants to be a manager, and Reward Manufacturing officials realize that. As a result, they have first ascertained the goals and ambitions of their employees and then communicated to them individually how they can best reach those objectives.”

“Reward Manufacturing’s management has also created a mentoring atmosphere at its company. Success is about succession, and Reward’s informal mentoring program starts with its entry-level positions and continues through the company. The officials at Reward Manufacturing understand the importance of work-life balance and communicate that understanding in various ways. They expect their employees to enjoy a life outside the company walls. This will make their employees happier, more productive, and loyal.”


“Officials at Run-of-the-Milling only seem to communicate their opinion about an employee’s performance when it is sub-par. Competent employees, as well as those who excel, are generally left alone. Their continued employment is their reward. Run-of-the-Milling doesn’t feel that it’s necessary to discover the career goals of its employees.

Run-of-the-Milling also doesn’t see the need to implement an informal mentoring program. That kind of program hasn’t even crossed the minds of its officials. They’re too busy trying to make quarterly earnings statements look as good as possible, and if that means some employees have to work overtime, then so be it. If those employees have to work overtime more or less consistently, they’ll have to do that, too. Company officials have never considered their employees’ personal lives relevant to the corporation’s success.”

Which one are you?
I bet you can see which company can attract and retain more high-quality employees first. One of the major keys to success in any marketplace has always been and will always be the people working for you. They are not to be overlooked or disregarded. They should be viewed as an integral part of the overall operation and success of your business and treated as such.

In other words, you want to be more like Reward Manufacturing and less like Run-of-the-Milling. Perhaps it’s time for an honest self-evaluation of your operations and attitudes, especially how your employees perceive you. An analysis can only be beneficial and will help to give you an edge over your competitors.
If you have any questions about fostering a company culture conducive to employee retention, please contact me at

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