Employee retention is tough to pull off. Throwing money at people does surprisingly little good. There are some crazy-sounding strategies out there.

But one of the oddest, and yet, on reflection, smartest approaches is the obvious conclusion of a recent poll sponsored by CareerBuilder. A timely one given the coming summer season.

CareerBuilder had The Harris Poll speak with 1,012 employees across different industries and employer sizes. The people asked questions about office temperature.

Almost half -- 46 percent -- of employees said their office was either too hot or too cold. Just over half said that being cold affected their productivity; 67 percent said being too hot had a similar effect. And 15 percent had gotten into fights with over employees over temperature while 19 percent secretly changed thermostat settings.

Maybe you've seen this in action. I have. A manager at one company I worked at years ago suffered from hot flashes and kept turning down the thermostat in her office. People around her piled on sweaters and didn't dare say anything.

We all know what it's like to feel too hot or cold and try to concentrate on work. No wonder people don't like it.

So, here's the idea: Do something about it. If you have people in individual offices, you could add thermostats, as there are ways to retrofit more heating and cooling control. If not, then find people's preferences, break them into associated groups, and settle each in a different area with a common control set for their general liking.

Or you could distribute fans, small space heaters, or let people adjust their work day to start and end later, after the building had warmed up, or earlier, if they liked it colder. Encourage people to walk away from their desks for a bit if they are getting sleepy.

Yes, you'll have to check power restrictions, but, really, is that so hard? Business owners and executives frequently complain about the ability to hold onto help. Don't complain, do something. And that starts with basic issues.

The more comfortable people are in their environments, the more they will like where they are. There is no need to allow readily solved problems to continue. You also don't have to overthink them. Try fans and heaters in one part of the building and see how that works. You can opt for retrofitting additional temperature controls if the easier and cheaper solutions don't work.

Don't worry about productivity you might lose. That's already happening. Give employees the benefit of the doubt and you can find yourself repaid many times over.

Published on: May 25, 2018