We hear a lot about the idea of retaining our top workforce. HR Professionals often promote formalized retention plans, rewards and recognition systems, enhanced performance management programs and clear career paths as tools to help ensure you keep your valuable employees. To design and implement all of these programs can require a substantial investment and takes a lot of manpower from various levels of the organization. Surely something that takes so much work would be enough to allow you to rest easy and know the team you have today will stick it through the tough times and help you grow. As they say, “what got you here won’t get you there.”
I believe it is true that money talks. I cannot think of anyone that would be unhappy with an increase in pay in recognition of a job well done. The problem is, it doesn’t last. Much like a paycheck itself, the true value of a raise is often gone in a much shorter period of time than you would think. So while the raise may retain the employee initially, it doesn’t do much to engage the employee and make them want to stay. Engagement takes a connection. So ask yourself: are you really connecting with your employees?
Below are a few suggestions to make the connections easier and if followed, you stand a much better chance of retaining the talent you can’t imagine losing.
The Best Ways to Retain your Top Talent
- Listen to your employees: Seems basic right? Many managers hear their employees, but rarely do we truly listen. Be sure to give your employees the opportunity to talk through their concerns or challenges. Instead of rushing to solve the problem, let the conversation flow. Often times, your employees will solve the matter themselves and be grateful for the time you spent with them.
- Recognize when to give feedback and when to reassure your confidence in the employee: Remember the last time you had a bad day? It happens to all of us. Whether you are new in your career or ready for retirement, we all have bad days, and we all screw up at some point. Often times, your top performers know what they missed and are more likely beating themselves up internally already. While feedback is vital to an employee’s professional development; at times, the employee just needs to know you believe in them in order to grow from the experience. There is always time to debrief about lessons learned after the matter has been digested and the dust has settled.
- Be intentional and unintentional about your interactions with your team: If you have regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings with your employees each week, do not cancel them. Rescheduling a meeting is acceptable only on the rare occasion. In fact, I recently took steps to reschedule all of my one-on-ones for times I knew I would be pulled into external meetings. My team needs to know they are my priority. That said, I also make a point to be casual where I can. I take a moment to laugh with my team members and listen to what is happening. If something big is happening in their personal life, I know enough to show support and if something big is happening in their professional life, I am aware enough in order to point them in the right direction.
- Recognize your employee’s individual contribution: I cannot stress this enough. While I believe strongly in treating all folks equally, believe it or not, I think society has started to forget to recognize the top performers. Just as recognition is used as a motivational tool for those in need of performance improvement, recognition is needed in order to motivate a top performer to keep up the pace. Employees can never get enough positive feedback and coaching- it’s just that the expectation level needs to rise ever so slightly each time.
I recently had a conversation with a CEO about ways in which they could retain their top employees. The conversation was great. We talked strategy and ideas and recognized some of the obvious signs of disinterest or ambivalence exhibited by disengaged employees. As an HR professional, it was a fun opportunity to brainstorm creative solutions for employee engagement. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was doing enough myself. As a manager having just gone through performance evaluations, I have to say, I enjoyed announcing various promotions and raises in salaries. But am I really giving my team enough of the emotional attention and motivation necessary to keep them onboard? The honest answer is I don’t know, and it’s something that I have to always be conscious about as time will only tell.