I grew up in a pretty traditional Southern California home where most Friday nights we ordered pizza. Pretty standard pie, with pepperoni and sausage. In fact, that is still my husband, Matt and my son, Ethan’s go-to, although Matt loves to take half of it and add black olives (which, ugh, I’m a no olive kind of gal). It’s fine though, because my daughter, Reese and I, we love margherita pizza, that’s our favorite!

In fact, when our family goes on trips, if we’re gone for a few days, we often try to find a pizza place and Reese and I have to order margherita pizza. It’s like we’re on this quest to find out who has the best margherita pizza. And so far we have found it’s actually the place in our own neighborhood; we love their margherita pizza!

A big reason why is a lot of these other places we’ve gone to, they try to add all these other ingredients, trying to be really fancy and creative. And even though Reese and I love those ingredients, they just don’t mix with a margherita pizza. We will leave saying, “Why would they mess with this? Just stick to the basic ingredients – the ingredients that make a margherita pizza amazing.”

And why do we keep going back to our same pizza place? Because they keep it simple.

They stick to those ingredients that make it so great. I see organizations making the same mistake. They want to keep their employees coming back, they want to retain them. So what do they do? They try to throw in all of these fancy “ingredients” to try to get them to stay. And guess what? That’s not what works. A fancy game room, the ping pong tables.

I mean, the organization I worked at, we had food trucks across the street on Fridays. And yes, that was really cool, but it’s not what made me stay at the company I worked for. So stop trying to find all these fancy “ingredients” to keep your employees coming back and staying engaged in your company, and just stick to the basics. I’m going to give you four, the four ingredients that are going to help you retain your employees.

Number one, humanity. You’ve probably heard me talk about this over and over again. Your employees are human beings, stop treating them like numbers. They have their own experiences, thoughts, feelings, and emotions; get in touch with them and know what makes them tick. Treat them as individuals, as human beings.

Number two, is flexibility. Flexibility. I know that we are going into a lot of hybrid situations – that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re offering flexibility as the employee or the individual would like to see it. Are you allowing them to choose which days they can come into the office? Maybe it’s not every week that they get to choose, but once a month, can we have some flexibility in those decision-making processes?

The number three ingredient is opportunity. Do your employees see opportunity for development, for advancement, for growth? When employees think that they’re going to be stuck in their same skill set, their same position, or possibly the same team, they will leave. So you’ve got to be able to show that there’s opportunity for growth and development.

And finally, the fourth ingredient is intentionality. Kind of a fancy word here for our basic ingredient, but intentionality. Are you as a leader being intentional with your interaction with your employees, with your team members? Are you intentional in how you treat them with humanity? Are you intentional about how you work with them on flexibility and individuality? Are you intentional with how you talk about their development, their opportunity for growth?

It’s not enough just to randomly have these conversations. Are they intentional, are they scheduled? Are you having them on some sort of a regular, consistent basis? Those are your four “simple ingredients” that are going to retain your employees, versus all of this fancy stuff that can be fun at times, but it’s not the stuff that’s going to make them keep coming back and be happy every time.