Executive Coaching Articles

How to Keep Your Top Talent

Joel has helped me build long-term leadership skills so I can advance into an executive level position. I am raising my team’s game to a whole new level and have learned to delegate more effectively. My relationships with peers, direct reports and key decision-makers have improved markedly, making me a more confident leader who recognizes the impact and value I bring to the organization.

Laurie Hanover, Senior Director,Levi Strauss & Company

Despite the increasing rise of unemployment and staff cutbacks, recent studies indicate that over 80% of global business leaders believe that “people issues” are more important today than they were just three years ago during a booming economy.

Further research shows that most employers continue to struggle with retention because they rely solely on salary increases and bonuses to prevent turnover. Clearly, money itself is not the only answer to hold onto your core talent. A good employee retention strategy includes intangibles such as relationships, growth potential, and overall corporate culture.

How does your company keep your top talent?

Successful companies know how to lessen employee turnover by knowing what makes their high performers fulfilled in their jobs and then working even harder to make sure those needs are being met. Studies consistently show that even though employees may say they are leaving for more money, when those same employees are asked several months later why they really left, the money factor is about fifth or sixth on the list. In most cases, high performer turnover is more dependent on how fulfilled or unfulfilled your employees are with their jobs. So why not capitalize on this insight? Instead of finding out why high performers leave, use an employee retention survey to find out what makes them stay.

In fact, a recent survey conducted by Accenture, a $10 billion global management and technology organization, indicates that businesses can greatly improve retention rates and employee performance by making it easier for workers to find new opportunities in an organization and developing the skills and knowledge of all your employees, regardless of their position in your company.

Money is a material representation of any employees worth to their company. It may motivate your employees to produce good work, get along with their superiors and handle the many frustrations and downsides of the average work day. But there are other motivators and intangible factors from which your employees can derive fulfillment and increased satisfaction. Achieving a high sense of purpose from their work is one of the most powerful sources of career fulfillment.

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To that end I recommend the following ways to help your employees love their work more:

  • Identify exactly what brings your employees career fulfillment.
  • Encourage them to focus more on what’s right with their jobs, than what’s wrong.
  • Train them. Consider hiring a talent management consultant to help you implement a skills training or continuous learning program. Activities such as attending conferences, working with a coach or mentor, cross-training, or self-study will provide access to the training they need to move up in their careers and will give them incentive to stay with you.
  • Pay them what they are worth by offering salary increases based on performance.
  • Besides money, offer incentives, fringe benefits or Quality Life Programs whenever possible such as family leave, flexible hours, and telecommuting options or even concierge services like massage sessions, dry cleaning services, emergency baby-sitters and take-out meals.
  • Give constant praise — It sounds extremely simple but with reduced staffs, increased workload and compressed time schedules, it is easy to forget compliments. People need to know that their efforts for the company are recognized and appreciated. After all, you can’t be proud of yourself until somebody’s been proud of you.
  • Improve your employees overall relationship with their job and daily responsibilities by increasing responsibility, involvement in decision-making and opportunities to make a difference.
  • Provide clear career paths: identify opportunities for people to shine. Explain what’s required for your employees to move forward in the organization based on the company’s or department’s plans for the next one, three, and five years.

Without a clear-cut understanding of what they have to do to advance or succeed, people quickly become de-motivated. At that point they begin looking for “better” opportunities. By expanding your understanding of why your employees leave you can identify even more ways to encourage them to stay.