Leigh Branham is an expert on employee retention. His most recent book is The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave. Reach him at LB@keepingthepeople.com.

REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR: Is anyone indispensable to a business organization?

Leigh Branham: Everybody can be replaced, but some employees are much more difficult to replace than others. Employers need to think about who they can least afford to lose. I've seen organizations where somebody knew something nobody else did, and that person abruptly quit. Suddenly you, the owner, have lost this key knowledge. You're scrambling.

RC: Why do they leave?

LB: The most common reason is that they're not recognized, valued, or made to feel important. Nobody's noticing or asking their opinions.

RC: How important is money?

LB: It's not. Only 12% of employees leave for pay. But … 90% of managers think that employees leave for pay. If money actually is the issue, let them go and wish them luck. There's always somebody else who's going to pay more. Money doesn't create commitment.

RC: How can you tell when an employee is dissatisfied?

LB: Look people in the eye every day. Watch their non-verbal behavior. Do they smile very often? Do they come in late and go home early? Do they seem a little checked out, like they don't care as much? Owners and managers are managing budgets, data — everything but the people. And their employees should be the main thing they pay attention to.

RC: Then what?