In short: Exist for a higher purpose, hire managers who foster trust and create a culture of leaders.

Employee turnover was cited as a challenge by 6.4 percent of responding CEOs in the 2018 Central Ohio CEO Survey by Capital University and Columbus CEO. Here’s how three past CEO of the Year honorees say their organizations are addressing the issue.

John Lowe, CEO, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams: If a company is solely about the numbers, then its employees will be too—and it is logical that those employees will bounce at the first higher-paying opportunity. But when a company exists for a higher purpose and recruits people energized by the purpose, employees are far less likely to be lured away for small increases in pay. Those leaders will forever struggle to retain talent who are missing (1) the tectonic shift in the makeup of available talent—millennials and GenZ—and (2) their implacable desire to lend their brains and brawn to support a purpose beyond just the bottom line.

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Shawn Holt, CEO, Maryhaven: Historic low unemployment plus a continuing growing economy means current employee turnover solutions can be obsolete. We know that the No. 1 reason why employees stay or leave is how much they trust their boss. At Maryhaven, we have placed an increased emphasis on retaining our current employees by conducting “stay interviews.” They are one-on-one conversations about what employees like about their jobs, and more importantly, why they stay. This strategy has helped reduce our turnover and build relationships with staff and supervisors. 


Matt Scantland, CEO, CoverMyMeds: Amazing people have lots of options about where they work, and we can’t win without attracting and retaining amazing people. So our commitment is to be the Best Place to Work and Grow (BPTW&G). BPTW&G means something a little different to each of us—so we work to chart a unique path enabled by rapid company growth to create more career opportunities. We also created a culture of 1,000-plus leaders where each of us is empowered to do big things for each other and the community, and grow the impact we have on our mission of helping patients get the medications they need.

Our CEO of the Year Awards for 2019 will be announced in the December issue.

Katy Smith is editor of Columbus CEO.