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When ‘Atta Boy’ Isn’t Quite Enough

A pat on the back is a great start in keeping employees engaged.

I was excited to watch a webinar recently about why people are leaving their jobs in droves and, more importantly, what can be done to stop that from happening. The so-called Great Resignation is a topic I’ve been interested in since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the webinar offered an interesting take on ways to recognize employees for the hard work they do, I wouldn’t exactly give the webinar an “atta boy” (especially since it had such a catchy title). I won’t rehash the details because you can read about it here. 

Of course, most people recognize that a well-deserved “atta boy” (or “atta girl”) can go a long way, but certainly employees are looking for more than just a pat on the back. Let’s look at what else you need to retain and attract good employees. 

Work/life balance 

This topic gets discussed ad nauseum, and for good reason. It’s one of the main ways that employees and potential employees measure a company. There’s no magic formula to work/life balance, though; it comes down to a willingness to offer flexible schedules and work locations, says Andy Kuzneski, President of KIG, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made that even more crucial. 

“But what does that really mean? It’s that flexibility that a lot of employers don’t allow,” Andy said. “It’s proactively saying that it’s obvious that some of our folks want to work from home. We want to encourage them to be where they’re going to be most productive. So, we’re not just going to give permission. We’re going to invest money in their ability to work from home or the office” without unreliable Internet service or outdated equipment getting in the way. 

“That way, employees can make a game-day decision as to whether they want to work from home or the office without affecting productivity. So, it’s not just lip service. We recognize that we have to make it a viable option for people.” 

Adequate resources 

“It’s also making sure your team has the right number of resources. That means the right number of people, hours available, computers, partners. It’s especially relevant when you have seasonality to your business, which a lot of businesses do.” (Think accountants, landscapers and, yes, insurance brokers.)  

“You have to think through what are the extra pressures you put on your team due to seasonal issues? You can’t just say, ‘that’s the way it is.’ It’s not good enough anymore. That is not work/life balance. That doesn’t cut it. Are we really addressing that there is an imbalance during that season? It can drive people away from your business.  

“So what can you do to get stuff out of the way during that busy period? Can you do things ahead of time? Can you automate? Can you bring in temporary help? You don’t want that seasonality to burn your people out.” 


Obviously, compensation, including benefits, is a big factor. But employees expect their pay to reflect their geography. The cost of living in a major city is going to be higher (in some cases, much higher) than in a rural area. That being said, an employee working from home who doesn’t have a commute will realize a savings. 

“There’s more competition now with people working from home, because businesses can now hire across the country versus just in their backyard. So, your employees do have options they maybe didn’t have before as far as where they want to work. Maybe your benefits and comp package doesn’t cut it anymore.” 

Mission critical 

“People leave because they’re not fulfilled, so that gets to mission. Do you have a mission that people really believe in?” 

It’s not hard to feel fulfilled if you work in the medical field (hey, we’re saving lives!) or for a space exploration company like SpaceX (hey, we’re saving the human race!). But if you’re in a service industry dealing with something less sexy like, say, insurance, the mission can be a harder sell. In our case, we recognize that there are real-life benefits to buying health and life insurance, for example.  

“How do you better communicate your mission and use that as a way to keep people excited about coming to work every day?” 


What about your culture? Is there an outdated dress code (business casual with the emphasis on business)? Is it stiff and formal? Are your employees a good cultural fit? At Kuzneski Insurance, we like to throw around acronyms, like GWC (which we made up): Do you Get the job, do you Want the job, and do you have the Capacity to do it?

“You have to make sure you have everyone in the right seat. Not every company gets you in the right place.” 

Learn why we at KIG think corporate culture is so important here. 


Jason Levan

Jason Levan joined Kuzneski Insurance Group in 2021 as Director of Communications and Content after his first career as a newspaper reporter and editor. In Act II, he oversees the content marketing for the company, with the goal of making the insurance world easier to understand and navigate for our clients. When he’s not at work, you can often find him “banging and clanging” in the gym, or spending time with his family.

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