How to Grow Employees: HR Strategies & Practices That Work

On a trip to the Philippines, I learned how cacao trees are planted. Until it is about nine months old and begins to produce the very first part of a tree, a seedling is nurtured. To ensure that it produces rich chocolate, as soon as the lush, green leaves appear, they are snipped. What’s left is a stalk. What surprised me is the stalk is then slit and a piece of the mature cacao tree is grafted to it.

I was told that if a cacao tree were left to its own accord, it would take five years to produce fruit, but grafting an older tree to a sapling allows the tree to produce chocolate in two years. Grafting reduces the amount of time and energy a seedling needs to become a fully productive tree by well over 50 percent. This is how I think of the relationship between a leader and a follower.

Leader & Follower

The notion of belonging can be greatly impacted when a seasoned employee spends time with a new seedling. It is also indicative of how leadership works together to strengthen the culture and create moments of cohesion, the key to organizational success.

Employees are like trees. They start as seedlings, and when nurtured and cared for in an exceptional way, they grow to become trees—in some instances, very tall trees. Employees with tenure have a great level of organizational intelligence. They know how the organization works, how people interact, and how to get things done that cannot be conveyed in policy, procedure, or documented desk job aid. Therefore, we want our trees to stay and belong to the forest.

One of the ways we care for our trees is with human resources programs and systems. Individuals working in HR are Champions of People. They reflect employees’ voices and help leaders work through a myriad of red tape and complicated legislation to ensure the work environment is safe and sound for all who enter.

HR Strategies & Practices

My organizationSouth Carolina Federal Credit Unionspends a considerable amount of time and money to put programs and systems in place that are designed to make employees enjoy where they work. The strategy is to retain employees and everything hinges on this concept. These HR Strategies & Practices align, balance, and actively administer employee-related functions, such as talent acquisition; onboarding; salary administration; benefits; mental, physical, and financial well-being initiatives; relational and social connectivity; performance development; evaluation; and talent retention.

These programs offer support to leaders in their effort to make a strong emotional connection between employee and employer—and that it’s enough of a connection to retain employees because they feel they belong, one of the key components of a Cohesion Culture™.

What practices do you have in place to ensure you’re cultivating the seeds of your organization? Please share your strategies below!

To learn more about the leadership values that can positively impact your team and create a Cohesion Culture™️, connect with Dr. Troy here.


Dr. Troy Hall is the Chief Strategy Officer for South Carolina Federal Credit Union, a $1.8B financial cooperative with over 165,000 members. With a Ph.D. in Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Dr. Troy has earned the designation as an International Development Educator. As the author of Cohesion Culture: Proven Principles to Retain Your Top Talent, his book showcases how and why South Carolina Federal Credit Union has been named a “Best Places To Work” by Glassdoor, the Credit Union Industry, and State of South Carolina.

Scroll to Top