Six Tips to Retain Your Top Workers

Don’t let those great employees slip through your fingers. Offer professional advancement opportunities to keep them on your team and meeting their potential.

Dana Manciagli
Dana Manciagli

Savvy employers know it’s easier to retain good employees than to replace them. What is your pumping company doing to keep top performers?

According to a Robert Half Finance & Accounting survey, training and professional development should be at the top of the list. Almost two-thirds (64%) of those polled say the opportunity to gain new work skills is a critical consideration when making a job change. Another 34% say it is at least somewhat important.

Your employees — particularly your top performers — should be able to visualize their potential to advance and take on increasing responsibility within your company. In any business, the best employees may be more likely to leave if they aren’t offered ample training and development opportunities to help them grow where they are.

Here are seven ideas to help improve your retention rates and to attract new talent:

1. Send employees to conferences

Industry conferences and meetings are crucial for professional development and training. Some companies have a budget for employees to attend an event of their choice each year, such as the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show or your state’s wastewater trade association conference. The workers will come back with a refreshed attitude, up-to-date knowledge about the industry, new ideas and new contacts, which might improve their performance day to day.

2. Reimburse membership costs

Consider covering membership fees for your employees to join professional organizations that offer networking and learning opportunities, such as the National Association of Wastewater Technicians or the Portable Sanitation Association International. (This can also mean savings when the annual conference comes around.) Another great idea is to pay for relevant publications and reports that may be valuable for your front-line crew. Maintain a library of magazines, trade publications and books, and industry training manuals in the office that they can access and study during slow periods of the day or week.  

3. Encourage certifications

Continuing education is absolutely essential in many fields, including the wastewater industry. Your team may be required to secure certifications and licenses to provide services and gain professional advancement. Identify opportunities for your employees, and allot a set amount of working hours for them to devote to their continuing education. Set goals for each employee’s continuing education during annual reviews. Reward them with bonuses or moves up the company ladder when they complete important steps.

4. Create a leadership development program

You can identify future leaders, help your employees grow and create stronger bonds within the company with an in-house leadership development program. Think about what you want future supervisory workers to accomplish in the company, and identify and invite staffers or existing lead employees who could take on more responsibility. Make sure all your employees know advancement opportunities are there if they show the potential and the drive to succeed and contribute more to your company.

5. Teach in-house

Monthly lunch-and-learns are a great way to keep your employees improving their value, even if you have a small budget. And you don’t necessarily have to run the show yourself. Invite other business leaders in the community to present fresh insights and ideas to your team. Or encourage employees returning from conferences to share what they’ve learned. Business book discussion groups are another informal way to keep employees engaged and learning new job skills.

6. Create a mentorship program

Creating mentorship opportunities within your staff builds loyalty and creates relationships that can last for entire careers. One-on-one mentoring is perfect for enhancing soft skills like communication and problem-solving, as well as improving business knowledge. The benefits of these programs aren’t limited to mentees: Mentors will hone their leadership skills and learn new ways of approaching tasks from their protégés. One easy way to build these relationships is teaming an experienced member of your crew with a new hire and watching them both benefit.


Companies with robust professional development programs are better able to not only retain key employees, but also attract potential new hires. With the right offerings, your company can stand out in the competitive hiring market and keep your best people happy.


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