Don’t Let Your Competitors Steal Your Talent
5 Practical Steps to Retaining Top Talent
A study by WorldatWork defines key talent as “those employees who are the strongest performers, have high potential, or are in critical jobs.” Retaining these employees is crucial to the long-term health and success of your business. As the leader of your organization, what are you doing to identify, define and manage key talent so you will be able to retain these individuals?
We recommend you start by understanding what employees want from their place of business. According to an article in The Harvard Business Review, career, community and cause are fundamental motivators for all employees.
- “Career is about work: having a job that provides autonomy, allows you to use your strengths, and promotes your learning and development.
- Community is about people: feeling respected, cared about, and recognized by others.
- Cause is about purpose: feeling that you make a meaningful impact, identifying with the organization’s mission, and believing that it does some good in the world.”
When these three needs are met, employees “bring their whole selves to work.” It’s possible your strongest performers already feel these motivators met by their jobs. But do you know how to identify these motivators for individuals? What about employees with high potential, or those in critical jobs – do you have a way to ensure these necessary motivators engage them? When employees feel one or more of these motivators is ignored, they tend to become less satisfied and committed. At that point, it’s not long until they start applying for, and eventually accepting, another job.
Retaining key employees creates a work environment that bolsters customer and coworker satisfaction, boosts product sales and effectively grows your business. If you are ready to fulfill the expectations your employees have for career, community and cause, take a minute to review these steps for retaining key talent:
1. Pay Attention to Exit Interviews
Valuable information doesn’t only come from key talent. Whenever someone leaves your organization, whether for a new job or retirement, take the time to truly understand their experiences with your organization. Departing staff are a significant source of data and what they say can be used to make positive changes, ensuring your key talent aren’t one day the employees signed up for a debrief.
2. Practice Job Benchmarking
We can’t stress enough the importance of defining what you expect from your employees and why their job matters. This hits all three of the motivators. It gives employees a sense of career as you define for them how their strengths are needed and how they will develop as time goes on. It provides community, as employees feel cared about and respected. Finally, it gives cause, as employees who know their job matters, know they are making a meaningful difference.
By letting the job talk, you guarantee that the employee knows why the job exists, how success will be measured, and how the job fits into your organization’s overall strategy. Depending on the tool used, job benchmarking provides the opportunity to determine ideal Behaviors, Motivators, Acumen and Competencies that key talent should possess to be successful in the role. When an employee is, for example, motivated by the rewards offered within his or her position, that employee is more likely to remain engaged with the company.
3. Encourage Employees to Use their Talents and Skills
Once you’ve identified the talents and skills necessary for the job, and confirmed that your employees are capable of bringing those talents to the table, give the employee the autonomy to work and grow. Motivated employees want to do this and giving them the responsibility and trust underscores that they are regarded as intelligent, valued members of the organization. More than likely, your organization will benefit in unforeseen ways as employees develop skills and tap into talents they might not otherwise discover.
As part of this process, encourage and enable employees to try new opportunities. Provide time and training for each employee. Give them the tools to succeed and, once again, they will feel a sense of community.
4. Be Aware of Compensation Practices
Salaries are important. Employees should feel compensation is fair and equal, and good work should be rewarded. Rewards don’t have to come in the guise of dollar raises though. Tap into what your employees find important. Would they prefer a few more days of vacation? A week-long sabbatical? Perhaps a year’s membership at a valued gym?
5. Create an Environment of Appreciation
This ties into Step 4. Receiving raises and other rewards definitely creates a feeling of recognition and appreciation. But, this can also be as simple as frequently saying thank-you, whether this happens when you pass an employee in the hall or at a staff meeting. Raise motivation by ensuring employees know why they are being thanked and, if a gift or raise is included, make clear the reasoning behind the compensation.
It’s not enough to place key talent in proper roles; rather, it’s important to engage with those top performers by developing clear lines of communication that underscore the value each person brings to the mission and vision of the entire organization. This is something we see coming out of our Take the Lead! ™ program – leadership learns to build positive relationships and create a team environment where members understand their role and align themselves with the company’s trajectory.
When key employees understand their roles (career), are rewarded by their jobs (cause), and recognize that their company has invested in them and considers them an asset to the organization (community), they will be less likely to pursue other opportunities, thereby reducing the unfortunate and significant expense that comes from employee turnover.
Founder of RedRock Leadership