Employee Retention: How to Retain Top Hires

Retaining top performing employees is challenging, and the following hypothetical situations are all too real for many hiring managers:

  • After a thorough recruitment process for an important permanent role, you onboard an exceptional direct hire. They add value to the team from day one, but after a few months they give their notice.
  • You offer someone a job and they accept, but before their first day they inform you they took a position with another company. Or they “ghost” altogether and simply don’t call or show.
  • A promising rising star in your company suddenly disengages from their job and tenders their resignation shortly thereafter.

Though the above scenarios are possible anytime, several factors have increased their frequency over the last decade. The ongoing, tight talent market means companies are competing for a smaller pool of job seekers with the specific skills and experience needed. Also, younger employees (Millennials and Generation Z) are generally more comfortable moving between jobs than Baby Boomers. Job hopping, a practice of switching companies frequently to develop new skills and discover a business with a strong cultural fit, has become commonplace.

Yet a strong, consistent workforce is the key to a successful business. And, regardless of whether it’s due to hiring the wrong person for a job or individuals in search of new opportunities, employee turnover is expensive for companies. The Society for Human Resource Management estimates the cost is up to 50 percent of the annual salary of the person who leaves. There are also hidden costs associated with losing strong employees, such as lowered morale when the workload of remaining employees increases.

It’s unrealistic to expect full retention of your top performers. People pursue other jobs for myriad reasons that are not related to your company, such as a decision to relocate or personal family issues. But there are steps you can take to improve your company’s overall employee retention rate.

Tips for Retaining Top Talent

Identify and Engage Top Performing Employees

Before making an effort to keep them, you must identify your top performers. But amid the endless tasks and deadlines of a busy workplace, this isn’t always easy. Many large organizations have formal processes for identifying and nurturing exceptional talent and potential leaders. But at small and mid-size companies, the task often falls to management and busy HR teams. Pay attention and take note when you observe employees who:

  • Discuss future goals
  • Add skills on their own time
  • Remain calm and resourceful under deadline
  • Produce consistent, high quality work
  • Communicate clearly

Your strongest employees will have most, if not all of these qualities. Employee engagement is critical at every level of your organization, but top talent require an extra measure of engagement to improve retention rates. Once you’ve identified high performers, discuss their professional goals with them and clarify your commitment to supporting their growth. If your company doesn’t have one already, establish a mentoring program for promising talent.

Minimize Organizational Silos

The silo mentality crops up at every company at one point or another. In small measure, organizational silos aren’t necessarily negative, but when they become widespread and entrenched in the company culture they are highly problematic. Silos lead to poor communication between teams and departments, project interruptions, a lack of accountability, as well as diminished creativity and innovation. These problems inevitably lead to diminished employee morale and frustration as dedicated talent struggle to achieve their goals and rarely see the positive outcomes of their efforts.

Preventing silos from arising begins with company leadership. Executives must set an example about the importance of frequent collaboration and open communication. It’s also important to find opportunities for cross-departmental projects and promotions, which helps people see themselves as part of the larger company and its long-term goals, rather than stuck in their current department.

Focus on Career Development

Your top employees are highly invested in their work. They aren’t simply punching the clock or doing the bare minimum. It’s important you return the favor. Show your appreciation for their hard work by making an investment in their career growth. Possible programs include: skills advancement classes, mentoring programs, tuition reimbursement, and leadership training.

Another important element is making sure these employees know there is room for them to grow within your company, even if it’s across departments or regions. Some ways to share this information include outlining career pathways during the onboarding process and announcing promotions in your company newsletter.

Review Your Benefits and Perks

Outstanding employees understand their value and move on from organizations that aren’t offering competitive compensation for their work. Be aware of the salaries, benefits and perks of similar companies within your industry and geographic area so you are not falling too far behind. No two companies will match exactly, and market fluctuations influence any organization’s ability to increase benefits. But keep in mind there are many low- or no-cost perks that employees appreciate, including flexible scheduling, remote work options, a casual dress code, cost sharing for skill certifications, and financial and physical wellness seminars.

Communicate With New Hires and Employees

This is perhaps the most important part of any employee retention strategy. People want to know they are making a valuable contribution to their team, company, and wider community. When talented new hires come onboard, make sure to offer kudos individually and in group settings. This lets them know you see and appreciate that they’ve hit the ground running. As new hires settle into their roles, the need for communication, feedback, and a simple ‘thank you’ doesn’t go away. Offer opportunities for authentic conversation between managers and employees, as well as on a peer-to-peer level. It helps foster a supportive environment that elevates the workplace to a site of growth and community.

It’s also important to clearly communicate clearly when there are improvements to employee perks, and new opportunities for skills training and advancement. Don’t assume employees know because they received an onboarding package when they started a year ago. Herald your company’s strengths and benefits in the company newsletter and regular team meetings. These measures improve employee retention rates only when your talent are kept in the loop.

Contact Link today for help hiring and retaining top employees.