8 Ways to Retain Your Top Employees


Finding great talent is hard, but it’s only the beginning because it’s often even harder to hang on to your best employees. High performing employees are in constant demand by your competition, whether in sales, engineering, or other departments.  Thus a retention strategy is incredibly important to any company’s success and has direct impact on your company’s bottom line.

So, how do you accomplish the critical task of hanging on to your superstars?  You need to understand the key factors that employees consider when making their decision to either stay or pursue new opportunities. As a talent acquisition professional, I speak with superstar candidates from exceptionally competitive companies everyday. Often the reason these superstars agree to speak with me is not because of compensation but rather how interesting and career changing that position might be for them. They are looking to constantly learn new skills that will allow them to grow.  Most want a great work environment with co-workers they can relate to and a manager who looks out for his/her employees.

Once you understand these factors, here are some things you should be doing right now to retain your top employees.

  1. Find out what’s important to the individual. 
    Before designing a retention plan you must learn what’s important to them in their lives today.  Is your top performer finishing an MBA and looking for a new career path?  Is your employee becoming more sensitive to insurance benefits because he/she is having a baby? It is critical to have these conversations proactively and frequently.

  2. Provide opportunities to take on challenging projects.
    Providing your top performers with challenging projects ensures that they are continuing to grow professionally. Continuously challenging your best employees with interesting projects is key. 

    I can almost guarantee that your top C++ programmer is interested in problems that’ll allow him/her to explore a new programming language or a problem that he/she has never solved before.

  3. Create opportunities for advancement.
    Your top performers are always looking for opportunities for career advancement. It’s important to set clear paths for advancement and make good on commitments.

  4. Create a culture that continually attracts - and keeps - top performers. 
    It’s important to foster an environment, which both nurtures and rewards high performers while fostering a team spirit for company growth. Rallying your troops to reach the same goal promotes a sense of ownership for the company’s growth.

  5. Allow flexibility to maximize work-life balance.
    For many employees, flexibility in schedule and the option of working from home is a necessity, rather than a luxury. Employees juggle family schedules that often involve both spouses working full time, young children, aging parents, and other responsibilities. Creating a flexible work environment is considerate to these factors.

  6. Provide benefits that work for each of your employees.
    When it comes to benefits, the ‘one-size fits all’ approach is rarely best.   Employers should recognize demographic differences among employees.  Making changes in benefit offerings like health insurance, or providing safe day care facilities for employees’ children are valuable benefits when accurately tailored for your workforce.

  7. Create lasting relationships.
    Although we are busier than ever today with newer gadgets and services that incessantly demand our attention, at the end of the day, what makes us truly human are the bonds we create with those who are around us.   Be sure then to foster an environment to help managers-direct reports and coworkers build lasting relationships.  

  8. Communicate.
    Today, when information spreads so rapidly through social media, it’s crucial to take control of communications.   Employees must know about company’s health, goals, and direction from their own supervisors and not press releases, tweets, or other social media.  This reinforces your employees’ engagement.

If properly implemented, these suggestions will provide your company with a strong platform to begin the critical job of building a successful retention strategy both sensitive and responsive to the complexities - and brilliance - of your employee base.