Do you know which of your employees are really committed to your company, who among your current roster is simply collecting a paycheck, and maybe most importantly, who is about to depart?

Ralph Dandrea is the founder of ITX, a web and mobile design and development company located in Pittsford, NY. When he realized retaining top tech talent was at least - if not more - difficult than attracting it in the first place, he began holding what he calls "Commitment Conversations."

In this American Express OPEN Forum piece, Dandrea says it's a mechanism for the company and the employees to both commit to an open and honest dialogue about their mutual expectations. That way, he says, they can minimize surprises, eliminate anxiety, and create smooth transitions.

Commitment conversations are a way for the company and the employees to both commit to an open and honest dialogue about their mutual expectations.

“I talk to a lot of fellow entrepreneurs who tell me about how they thought their employees were signed up and gung-ho about their companies—until one day those same employees walk in and hand you their two-week notice. It’s then that you hear the wild stories and excuses about how they just got another job offer out of the blue. You know they are lying and it makes you angry. Not only that, the company suddenly has a big hole to fill in a short period of time.That’s a nightmare."

And that is exactly what happened.The company suffered through some employee churn, with several people leaving unexpectedly in a short period of time, and it created some uncertainty in the ranks.

"We didn’t really know who was committed to us and who wasn’t."

“My management team and I came to the realization that we didn’t really know who was committed to us and who wasn’t," stated Dandrea to writer Darren Dahl in the OPEN Forum. "For example, we had one supervisor who had two people leave and she had no clue that was coming. It was a real eye-opener because we learned that you couldn’t assume people are committed to you just because you didn’t have any evidence that they were actively looking for a job. We knew we had to approach the problem from a different angle."

Talent acquisition is at a premium for tech companies all over the world, and as I recently wrote in this Staffing Talk piece, there has been an escalation of perks to try and attract and retain talent.

TempWorks CEO David Dourgarian says attracting and retaining top talent goes beyond pool tables, ping pong and other perks.

TempWorks CEO David Dourgarian says it goes beyond pool tables, ping pong and other more lavish perks.

"Even though we have been around forever, we still let our internal staff act like they are working at a start-up," says Dourgarian. "We offer a casual work environment, lots of opportunities for advancement, competitive salaries and a fun culture. We trust those things will be attractive to the people who are the best match for the company - and our customers."

Dourgarian says TempWorks also experienced some employee turnover in 2013, part of which he said is common for the tech space, echoing Ralph Dandrea's statements.

But Dourgarian wants to make sure he has an accurate read on employee engagement levels at the company. So he is considering implementing a series of one-on-one listening sessions for employees, where they will be free to discuss what they like about working for the company, what they don't, if they feel valued, what can be improved and so on.

Perhaps he will add "Commitment" to the conversation.

"The reason we have been so successful for so long is we innovate faster than everyone else," Dourgarian says. "And what environment provides the foundation for that to take place? A really good place to work. We are committed to our employees, and if we can get an accurate read on who in turn is all in with us, we're all for it."

Tags: Staffing, TempWorks, Employee engagement, David Dourgarian, Industry, Commitment Conversations, American Express Open Forum, Ralph Dandrea, ITX