alex-blajan-99325There’s a lot of exciting progress happening. Property values are up. Unemployment is down. Communities are growing.

I’m honored to work with clients in an amazing diversity of industries, and I’m seeing that optimism is generally much higher than it was last year.

Of course, as business leaders, we’re charged with looking at the big picture and taking the long view. So we know that good news tends to blind us to problems, and an up-cycle will surely be followed by the down-cycle.

That’s not a bad thing. It’s how the world works.

When business is good, it’s time to invest for the future, and to deliver a great experience for customers and employees. Not over-investing, of course, because we don’t want to set ourselves up for failure.

It’s time to make sure that customer loyalty is cemented through having a great experience. I saw many industries where customers stayed loyal to their suppliers during the recession because of the bonds of trust which formed in prior years. Sure, there were times where circumstances forced them to seek out substantially lower costs, but it didn’t happen as often as I expected.

The employee experience is a bit similar. Yes, your people may totally understand that they could walk across the street and get another job. That gives them a freedom to leave their job if they feel they’re being treated unfairly.

Honestly, most employees leave because they have no emotional ties to their job and co-workers. They’re not convinced they’re being treated fairly, and over the months and years, a feeling of resentment starts to build.

That’s usually why people leave their job.

So now’s the time to focus not only on attracting great employees, but also on retaining the skills and talents your workers already have. Those people are the heart and soul of your business, so let them know they’re valued and appreciated.

Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your folks value only money, that everything can be fixed by giving them a big fat raise. Yes, they absolutely need to be paid fairly, and that can be tough. But repeated studies from Gallup and other top analysts have shown for years that the primary causes of employee turnover are weak relationships.

When you don’t really care about your employer, why not just go somewhere else that looks like more fun?

Your mission, then, is to give your people a reason to care. Are you making a difference in the community? Show your team what that looks like.

Are those employees making your company healthier, thereby improving job security? Let them know!

And, seriously, when was the last time you actually told each person that you appreciated their contribution? You might be overdue.

I’m heartened by the rapid growth I’m seeing in mission-driven businesses. Leaders are finally talking about what’s more important than just making money.

Money isn’t evil; it’s not a bad thing. But it’s rarely the end result of success and prosperity.

Start opening up to your leadership team, your employees, even your customers and partners. Show them how your company is improving the world. They’ll gravitate toward supporting you.

In good times AND in bad.

This article first appeared in BizWest.