What Are You Doing To Retain Star Employees?

BY Tim Londergan
Featured image for “What Are You Doing To Retain Star Employees?”

According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May, 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs. Disturbingly, this matches the peak that was established in September 2021. These statistics are what keep employers up at night. This elevated quit rate can leave a gaping in hole in any company’s team roster, and it’s especially troubling when top talent is among the missing. Frustratingly, the challenge to retain star employees is tougher as competing firms are paying top dollar to lure away talent.

There’s a high cost to retain star employees

Astoundingly, the cost to recruit and onboard an individual employee can range from one-​half to two-​times the employee’s annual salary according to gallup​.com. Therefore, turnover costs can be devastating to a business’s financial metrics. Not only that, when your top performer abandons you and takes up with your prime competitor, there are repercussions for key clients, internal systems and overall morale of the team. Dreadfully, these ramifications and their long-​term effects are immeasurable.

Missing the red flags of discontent

I’ve written before about various strategies to retain employees. However, there is much more at stake when your top performer is looking at the exit. Reporter Andy Medici, writing for bizjournals’ Playbook, explains that missing signals a good worker is considering a job change is a horrible mistake. Medici points to some of the more obvious signs, such as a decline in productivity or noticeable lack of motivation. But it’s tough for managers to retain star employees by hand-​holding and being present to observe these sometimes subtle signs of discontent.

Get ahead of the problem with individual employee engagement

Again, according to gallup​.com, “52% of voluntarily exiting employees say their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job.” Admittedly, many companies have established policies and procedures to handle withdrawals. Although informative, exit interviews are too little, too late to salvage departures. And in most cases, a stay interview with a top performer can place you in a diminished negotiating position. So, what, according to Medici, can managers do to retain star employees? Here are two ideas:

  1. Invest in more employee engagement
  2. Recognize and reward employees

Three meaningful tactics

An employee engagement survey – Before you can work on advancing employee engagement, you need to know your baseline. In other words, you need to identify how your employees currently perceive their place of employment. Wework​.com outlines 10 engagement strategies and suggests initiating an engagement survey to begin. An employee engagement survey can inform you of everyday experiences of employees. Rating statements on a scale of 1 to 5 covering management interactions, company mission, performance recognition, work-​life balance, and opportunities for career advancement can yield powerful information. Once compiled and analyzed, the results can lead you to areas needing the most work. To retain star employees, you can single out these individuals and pay direct attention to their concerns.

An employee engagement committee – Assigning your staff a role in engaging their peers is a sensible tactic to retain star employees. Certainly, it’s a voluntary effort. However, your high performers would be ideal in assuming leadership positions on the committee. Sharing results of the engagement survey with the committee will give them a framework and encourage them to improve future survey results by addressing the perceived shortcomings.

Formal recognition of superior job performance – Directly communicating praise for a job well done is a powerful motivator. Moreover, highlighting an employee’s success in a company-​wide newsletter or team email makes them feel valued. Also, this encourages others to work hard for equal recognition.

These ideas, along with assuring your company offers a safe, inclusive and nurturing environment, are the basis for fostering a healthy setting to retain star employees.

Photo by Pascal Habermann on Unsplash