Posted: Herald Democrat, Thursday, March 15, 2018 8:00 am


In speaking to Leadville and Lake County businesses about challenges, one will hear that finding and keeping qualified employees is one of our biggest local difficulties. This is compounded by the high cost of health care, housing and child care. With unemployment numbers under two percent in Lake, Summit and Eagle counties, finding the right person for a business sometimes becomes more of a matter of finding a warm body. There simply is not a lot of available people to draw from. So how do you keep them?

I often hear that our local employers cannot pay the competitive wages that some of the businesses over the hill (in Summit and Eagle) can, but pay is often not the main reason why employees leave jobs. More often, employees talk about the culture of the organization as the reason why they left. Successful businesses are deliberate in the culture that they want and how they create it. For a supportive culture to be developed, it must promote and support mutual trust and employee efforts. Without mutual trust, communication breaks down and small problems become larger ones.

How do you create this culture? A focus on professional growth is necessary. When employees feel that their talents are recognized and appreciated, they are more likely to give more. Instead of growing employees’ skills to match the company needs, great organizations must look for ways to grow the company based on employees’ passions. They should continually ask employees what they are interested in doing and how they would like to see their career unfold. This creates a feeling of empowerment and the understanding that their personal growth is valued to the company. It also increases communication and leads to employees that want to go above and beyond.

Other ways of increasing communication are involving employees in the business planning by soliciting their ideas and sharing regular reports about how the company is doing and how the leadership is looking to react to those changes. Delegating responsibility and offering challenges with the support necessary for the employee to be successful is another technique to build trust. It creates the opportunity for feedback from both sides and the ability to get on the same page about what went right and wrong, or at least learn where communication breakdowns may be occurring.

A good boss also knows that their employees do not work for them, but rather they are part of the organization’s team. When everyone is working toward something larger than themselves or their supervisor’s desires, you see less people leaving because of a conflict with their supervisor.

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