About our blog post author: Stephanie Hamelmann is the Corporate Recruiter for FORUM Credit Union. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Purdue University. Prior to recruiting for FORUM, Stephanie worked for a local staffing company fulfilling the recruiting needs for various companies in the Indianapolis Area. She previously served on the Membership Committee for IndySHRM and is currently serving as a member for the SMA Committee.


I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t mind having lunch with Les Gleaves from Exact Target.  After a fun-filled time of networking and enjoying free drinks and pizza, how could the night get any better for the SMA “Wind Down Wednesday” event?  Well, it did.  Our expert panelists took it to the next level and shared many best practices in regards to leadership, engagement and retaining top talent.  They went beyond telling what they do, but also how they do it.

One common theme shared across the panel was “people just want to feel valued”.  It is a simple concept but a difficult one to always implement in the structures of the corporate world.

Our panelist, Valerie Nowosielski, shared about Goodwill’s Talent Development Center for their Retail Division.  One of the practices implemented, is interviewing current employees for future positions.  Afterwards, feedback is provided and a development plan is created.  The concept behind this was “if you are not talking to your employees about their career aspirations, then someone else is.”  Simple but true.

In order to retain, Lydia Ostermeier has assisted Clarian Health in developing a key contributor bonus.  This allows managers the ability to access a pool of money not only to reward their top performers but to recognize their talents.  Additionally, in this challenging economic time, it could be as simple as awarding vouchers for uniforms.  Bottom line: increasing employee engagement and rewarding top performers correlate directly with a positive impact on key business metrics.

Similarly, Hank Head shared that Dow Agro Sciences has developed an on-boarding program.   It is structured so a designated person is instrumental to the new employee’s success for a year before it is turned over to a leader for the rest of the time.  Moreover, Dow has even has brought back retirees in different capacities to retain their strong knowledge base, but utilize them to be innovative in new areas.

And as we know, Les Gleaves is still waiting for one of his former employees to schedule a lunch with him.  With all voluntary exits at Exact Target, Les conducts the exit interviews.  In hopes of creating a professional bridge, he lets the exiting employee know the value they brought to the organization and never leaves without handing his business card.

Overall, employee turnover is to be expected, but if your company is truly engaging your employees, that leaves little room for “surprise” with the loss of quality employees.  As HR professionals, we know that wages and benefits are important to employees, but compensation alone is not enough to keep high performers.