5 Ways to Retain Top Talent

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As the economy continues its slow-but-steady climb toward recovery, employees — especially the top, most coveted talent — are beginning to look for other jobs. While people tended to remain in place during the turbulent economic climate of the past few years, as many as 55% of professionals intend to seek other roles now that the sun has finally come out. Most organizations, were they to conduct an honest internal poll, wouldn’t find their low performers among those likely to move. The low performers will remain in jobs at which they’re comfortable. The best and brightest, however, are already looking for greener pastures.

Even if the economy doesn’t reach full bloom in the next 12 months, they’re likely already looking. So to keep your best people in place, start rewarding them now. And before you start feeling an acute pain in your balance sheet, know that there are a number of ways to reward your best players other than simple salary bumps.

Invest in Your Business No star athlete wants to play for a team that’s content to coast to a mediocre record year after year. Stars want to play for winning teams, and they want to do so because they, too, want to win. To retain your best players, make a visible, believable commitment to your business. Invest in new initiatives. Explore new opportunities. Find growth in unlikely places. Inspire your people, and they will stay with you.

Invest in Your People Again, the answer here is more than just money. Meet with your VPs, directors, and managers and find out who they value the most. Then talk to them. Take them on one-on-one lunches. Find out who they are and what they want from their careers. Then, help them achieve those goals. Find internal mentors for them. Give them ownership of projects. Help them be fulfilled at work and, in return, they’ll stay with you and give you a redoubled effort.

Let Them Lead Speaking of owning projects, star players aren’t content to ride the bench for long. If you can find leadership roles for them, that’s ideal. If you can’t move things around to accommodate that, then give them projects to run or products to innovate. They won’t tell you this, but your best people are constantly thinking about their resumes and what will go on them. If you give them something that they can point to later on and say, “I drove this project to a successful completion,” then you’ll have earned considerable loyalty from the people you want to retain.

Tap Their Network Many companies are finding themselves in the position to hire these days, and one of the smartest ways to fill those reqs is to tap your top talent for referrals. There are a number of benefits to this. First, you reinforce that you value and trust your employees’ judgement on who they might refer for interviews. Second, you save considerable time and money with your HR team or an external recruiter. Third, talented people tend to know other talented people and can spread the word about your organization better than any job ad you might place.

Share Your Vision A subtitle for this one could simply read: “Communicate.” No one wants to stay aboard a rudderless ship, and if your employees don’t know what you’re planning for the next quarter or the following year, their sense of unease is likely to grow and cause them to look elsewhere. So give them a plan. Tell them where the company is going. Make sure they know the executive vision and what’s at stake. They’ll have a better sense of the way ahead, and they’ll also take greater responsibility for the overall success of the organization.

You know your company best, so do your research. Call small team meetings and speak frankly with your employees or colleagues. Find out which way the wind is blowing. Once you understand their concerns, wants, and needs, you’ll be able to address them in a much more effective manner and begin implementing a number of retention strategies to keep your best players in place.

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