Retention of Top Talent

Oct 16, 2012

The statistics show that nearly 40% of internal job moves involving high potential employees end in failure.  Disengagement within this cohort of employees has been remarkably high since the start of the recession: In a September 2009 survey by the Corporate Executive Board, one in three emerging stars reported feeling disengaged from his or her company. Even more striking, 12% of all the high potentials in the companies we studied said they were actively searching for a new job.

A study involving more than 20,000 employees identified as “emerging stars” in more than 100 organizations worldwide over six years identified some very important points when looking to retain top talent.

1)      Don’t assume they are engaged

2)      Don’t mistake current high performance for future potential

3)      Don’t delegate talent development to line managers

4)      Don’t shield talent

5)      Don’t assume high potential employees will take one for the team

6)      Don’t keep young leaders in the dark

Retaining strong employees is not about dollars so keep creativity in mind as you seek to find the attributes of a working life that are of most value.  Particularly for small and medium sized businesses, it can be challenging to know what your most valued employees really want beyond a competitive salary.

Here are some ideas and incentives that can help your company retain its top talent:

  • First and foremost, keep an eye out for the red flags that signal an unsatisfied employee.  Keep the lines of communication open about how they find their work, the office environment, and how they feel about their workload. Take an interest in an employee’s satisfaction more than once a year.
  • More and more these days, a flexible schedule is the single most important factor in keeping employees happy. Being able to offer flexibility for employees continually ranks as a key factor in job satisfaction.
  • Are you able to offer the option of working from home sometimes? This has become a viable option for a lot of industries, and the ability to work from home is a huge factor in talent retention. There are tricks to making the arrangement work well, but keep an open mind.
  • Putting value in work done and goals achieved, rather than in actually time spent at a desk in the office, tells employees that you trust them. And work/life balance continually strikes a chord with in-demand people.
  • Creative professionals tend to place a high value on their work being appreciated and actually acknowledged by an organization.  People in service-based positions like Nursing or Customer Service take a lot from praise outside of the company, so communicating external feedback is important.
  • Small businesses can offer something that large corporations sometimes can’t—a tightknit, collaborative team. Making work fun (as arbitrary as that may sound) makes a difference to people, and can help the day-to-day become much more enjoyable.