With the unemployment rate so low these days – here in Denver we’re down to 2.7% – organizations are getting nervous about losing their top talent.  There’s been an uptick in talk about how to “retain” A players.  Part of this talk includes golden handcuffs – a long-term payout or benefit that’s only realized if one stays at the organization for a certain number of years.

I’m not a believer in golden handcuffs, as they are still handcuffs which whiff strongly of entrapment and manipulation.  Here’s just a few other reasons why I would avoid this strategy to gain employee loyalty:

  • What was once intrinsically and deeply motivated by the core character of your team member (commitment to your organization) is now a carrot on a stick.
  • Let’s say one day one of your A players would like to leave, do you really want someone to stay who doesn’t want to be there?
  • And if an unexpected opportunity arises for them, wouldn’t you want them to seize it, simply because you care about them?
  • What happens when there’s a downturn and that carrot begins to wilt?
  • Real loyalty isn’t bought.

Instead of golden handcuffs, encourage employee loyalty and longevity by:

  • Creating a workplace where employees feel good about coming to work.
  • Consistently centering the meaningful mission behind the work – have the work be worth their life’s work.
  • Encouraging camaraderie social super glue amongst team members.
  • Being a stand for their success by witnessing and celebrating their successes as well as supporting them in their struggles.
  • Listening and considering their concerns and empowering their suggestions.
  • Compensating based on the success of the organization as well as their ROI to the organization.

And do this always, regardless of the unemployment rate.

PS – Check out my great chat with Kevin Kruse on The LEADx Show! Click here to listen to the podcast, or click here to read on Forbes.com. And don’t forget to grab a copy of Culture Works while you’re at it!