Book Review – Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em

Charlotte Ashlock

Charlotte Ashlock

Digital Producer & Editor at Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Charlotte Ashlock helps shape manuscripts and develops online content for a distinguished business book publisher. She studied Science, Technology and Society at Bard College, and is passionate about the cause of building more democratic and humane organizations in our 21st century world. Towards this end, she helps her company use innovative technolologies and interactive learning to take the message of better organizations beyond the pages of the print book. Before working in book publishing, she served in the nonprofit realm as both an afterschool curriculum developer and a website content manger. Charlotte is very active on social media and always up for a chat.
Charlotte Ashlock


Executive Editor at @BKpub looking for biz nonfiction authors. Loves: helping folks achieve their dreams, social justice, dragons, robots, Jesus, & pie
The holiday season is exhausting. - 2 days ago
Charlotte Ashlock
Charlotte Ashlock

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Book Review – Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em by Bev Kaye & Sharon Jordan-Evans


The Shocking Case of the Multi-Billion Dollar Employee

I’ve heard many times that replacing an employee can cost up to two times their annual salary— but did you know that losing a key employee at the wrong time can cost you billions of dollars?  Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em tells the story of John, a high-performing engineer who invented key technology and asked to be rewarded with a 15% raise.  When he was disdainfully refused, he left to join the competition. With John’s smarts, the competition was able to win a multi-billion dollar contract away from John’s old employer.

Not everyone is a John, but particularly talented or skilled employees generally cost 4-5 times their annual salary to replace; far more than the traditional figure of two.  So what’s a manager without a budget for raises to do?  The good news is there are all kinds of strategies, from A-Z, to get employees to stay.

Many Ways to “Show the Love” Besides Money

In the fifth edition of their best-selling classic, Kaye and Jordan-Evans argue strongly that employee retention isn’t really about money.  Yes, you should pay fair and competitive wages, but that’s not really what makes employees stay.  What makes them stay is feeling “loved” and appreciated for the work they do.

According to the Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em methodology, when John asked for his raise, John’s boss should have said, “I don’t know, but I’ll ask and see if it’s possible.”  Then he should have followed up by asking if there was anything else John wanted besides a raise.  From time off to flex time to a more personalized workspace, there are all kinds of things employees crave that managers can easily grant. Raises symbolize respect for achievements, but there are many non-financial ways to embody that respect as well.

Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em is jam-packed full of easy, creative ideas for managers to show love, respect, and appreciation for employees.   My favorite was the manager who said, “I give out a light bulb filled with candy to anyone who comes up with a great idea and brings it to me. I give several a month.  People actually try to save the candy because they like leaving the light bulb on their desks.”  Of course, retention strategies are also engagement strategies as well.  As the authors point out, people who “quit but stay,” putting in minimal effort, can be as damaging as the people who physically leave.

The Elephant in the Room: Bosses Must Stop Being Jerks

So what’s the top reason employees leave? The authors draw on extensive research that proves a bad boss relationship is by far the most common reason for quitting. “Three out of four employees report that their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their job and 65 percent of employees say they’d take a new boss over a pay raise,” the authors report.  So this book has a chapter called, “Jerk: Don’t Be One,” to teach managers how to improve relationships with the people who report to them.

“People cautioned us not to write this chapter or at least not to use this title,” say the authors.  What kind of consultants are crazy enough to call their clients jerks?  But in a surprising turn of events, managers don’t dislike the “Jerk” material: they eat it up.  After all, nobody wants to be a jerk.  What could be more compelling than figuring out how other people perceive you?

Within the book, you can fill out a checklist to figure out how much of a jerky you are: an impressive exercise in self-honesty. The authors say cheekily, “Give results from the jerk checklist some serious thought. Ask your friends at work to look at the list with you and give you honest feedback.  (If you don’t have any friends, that may be a clue.)”

True Stories, International Flavor

Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em is jam-packed with true stories from the author’s consulting practice, which adds tremendous character and liveliness to the book.  Also, the fifth edition has more international examples than any previous edition, which add extra fascination to the work.  For example, one of the very best stories in the Jerk chapter came from China: “A boss in China made headlines when he assigned the homework of his 12-year-old daughter to his employees. It wasn’t the first time and the employees stayed up late two nights in a row completing the task and dealing with the demanding girl.”

Having so many examples in Asia in the new edition added a whole new layer of learning.  Not only are you learning about employee retention, you’re learning about cultural differences in the business setting.  For example, an American might be honored by an “Excellence Award,” but an Asian person might be embarrassed.  As an Asian client of the authors explained, “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down. It’s often awkward for individuals to receive recognition for their excellence.   They view it as just doing their duty.”

Worth Its Weight in Gold

Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em teaches managers to release their creative, playful, and human side.  It teaches them to get flexible and bend the rules to help out their talent.  It challenges assumptions and paves the way to organizational excellence in a bold, courageous way.  This book is a gem.

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