How do we retain quality employees is the question.


Judith M. Bardwick, Ph.D.


What is the commitment, or what are the responses the organization makes to its people in exchange for?

What is the human component of strategy we can optimize performance by managing people according to basic human nature?

How do organizations attract and retain their quality people?  If asked, you’d probably say I’d like to work where it’s fun and I want to benefit from my contribution.

No surprise:  people prefer to work under pleasant conditions and they want both extrinsic and intrinsic payoffs.  That means they want to gain things like money and they really want their work to make a significant contribution.

Most people would also agree that what would make working in one organization more desirable than another would include conditions of:

  • Fairness; camaraderie; success; being respected; being included and valued.
  • Having opportunities to earn greater and different responsibilities.
  • Compensation that justly reflects the contribution of what I achieve and enables me and my family to have an economically sound present and future.

But saying that is like talking about Mother’s Day and Apple Pie. We don’t learn very much that’s new.

I’d like to suggest that organizations need to focus on three core ideas:

  1. Manage to BOTH self-interest and idealism.
  2. Manage to success – and not to morale.
  3. Communicate appreciation – seriously and variously.

I think it’s in the very nature of human nature that there are two basic drives which appear to be in conflict.  People want to both maximize self-interest or narcissistic gain, and be idealistic or do something that contributes to the greater good.

Idealism is often less obvious as a motive than narcissism, but it’s very powerful.  People want to feel good about themselves and about what they do.  For example, there are millions of people who do very difficult work, either as volunteers or as low-payed employees?  What’s the motivation?  Idealism.




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