Expert Q&A – Ronald Thomas

Updated on: 17. November 2023

This week we caught up with Industry Expert Ronald Thomas to see what he had to say on the topic of employee engagement. In his previous Senior role at Martha…

This week we caught up with Industry Expert Ronald Thomas to see what he had to say on the topic of employee engagement. In his previous Senior role at Martha Stewart Living, Ron developed a program to help employees take charge of their careers and essentially develop their own engagement by choosing the right path. We got in touch to find out more.

Expert Post Ronald Thomas

In your recent article on TLNT you discuss how businesses can help employees develop their own engagement, do you think this is a tactic that other, smaller businesses can adopt? Is there is a danger that it could potentially harm staff retention?

I think that some hybrid of a career development program should be offered within a company as would any other type benefit. Employees need to be aware, especially younger recent college grads of how to not only navigate but find their career sweet spot. The program that we developed was a big hit because there are so many in the workforce that are not knowledgeable about career choice or career mobility. We were not focused or worried about them leaving but more concerned about having them focused on their well-being. One of our findings was that the vast majority of people had never given consideration to their career. They had given consideration to their jobs but not career. What we showed was that there is a difference.

You’ve previously written about how your daughter Lauren fired her employer, and how her inbox subsequently filled with emails from ex co-workers congratulating her. The dysfunctional leadership at her company was clearly an issue, where do you think they were going wrong?

Her business unit worked 10/12 hour days, being on call on weekends. The turnover was and has been high. There was no curiosity as to why everyone was leaving. When someone would leave, they would just by remote repost the job. Being clueless is what causes these type situations. Whether it is HR or Leadership, someone has to be aware of what is going on around them. If you are churning employees by department, it seems only natural to ask why they are leaving. Organizational dysfunction is caused by leaders not paying attention

In terms of recruiting, what practical advice would you offer HR professionals in order to improve employee engagement and staff retention?

People leave organizations because of the people/manager dynamic and relationship between manger and employee in extremely important. All managers throughout the organization should be aware of the importance of engagement. Engagement drives retention and it is every managers responsibility to connect with their employee group. One of the most important character to look for in a manager is not so much for the technical aspect of the job, although that is important. The key is having good people skills. That skill set should be on every organization competency top list.

More About Ronald Thomas:

Ron is a Chief Human Resource & Administrative Officer currently based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He formerly was Director, Talent and Human Resources Solutions at Buck Consultants (a Xerox Company) and is certified by the Human Capital Institute as a Master Human Capital Strategist (MHCS) and Strategic Workforce Planner (SWP). He’s also worked in senior HR roles with Martha Stewart Living and IBM. Ron serves on the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly Executive Online Panel, and HCI’s Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy. He also serves as a Faculty Partner and Executive Facilitator at the Human Capital Institute. He has received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence by the World Human Resource Development Congress in Mumbai. Contact him at, or on Twitter at

Image Reference – Flickr Rofi

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