Employee retention is always difficult, and when your best people leave, it’s especially painful. Not only do you miss out on your strongest employees’ skills, knowledge, and contributions, you also have to deal with the remaining members of your team who will likely be upset, discouraged, or worse.
When your star employees quit, you have to figure out a short-term plan that will ensure all of their responsibilities are covered. In most cases, managers have no other choice but to spread the departing employee’s work out among the rest of the team. Which means that not only do remaining employees lose their work friend, they also have to figure out how to get more done each week. This is a problem because, as our research points out, nearly 70% of employees are already overworked under normal circumstances.
In short, when your best workers leave, team morale takes a serious hit.
The good news is that there are things you can do to keep your stars on board — and, by extension, keep your whole team happy. It’s not really just about money, either. In one Gallup survey, the primary reason people said they moved on was because they wanted to pursue better advancement opportunities. Up next were needing more money, finding a better job fit, and wanting a new work environment.
Marcel Schwantes, writing for Inc., has assembled a list of 10 ways to encourage the good ones to stay. Here’s what you can do to prevent your employees with the most talent potential from leaving in the first place:
If employees feel less like they’re working for you and more like they’re working with you on their own projects, as “intrapreneurs,” they feel more invested in the company’s success. While this doesn’t mean ceding your role as a manager, greater freedom and ownership of their work are likely to have people feeling better about it — and likely doing a better job to boot.
It’s depressing for employees who feel out of the loop due to “mushroom management (keeping them in the dark).” Make sure to communicate what’s going on with your company on a regular basis. Help employees feel a connection with customers by showing your team the impact of the work they do. Offer them opportunities to make suggestions. Create an environment in which they know their input is welcome.
Look for opportunities to challenge employees with assignments that stretch their abilities and reward them with new skills. Employees are less likely to feel they’re stagnating when their work continually keeps them on their toes.
Make an effort to connect with employees as people. Make it clear through these relationships that you don’t see them strictly as resources but as human beings.
Even though you may feel that you’ve got the best system possible in place, don’t discard the opportunity to learn from your employees. Continually get their assessments about how things are working and if they have improvements to suggest. To increase the chances your employees give you honest feedback, use pulse surveys that allow them to share their thoughts anonymously.
Everybody likes to feel useful, and so it’s not surprising that a recent study found that employees who mentor others, even for just 10 to 30 minutes a day, derive a great deal of satisfaction from the effort and feel more confident, capable, and important to the company themselves.
Help your best employees maintain a sense of career momentum by offering them the chance to keep expanding their skill sets by temporarily assigning them different jobs, teaming them up with others on cross-disciplinary projects, encouraging them to learn a new skill, or inviting them to lead a group effort to learn about something of interest to your employees.
Keep employees focused on both short- and long-term goals that they can be passionate about. Consider trying out Google’s infamous policy that allows star workers to pursue dream projects for up to 20% of their time. (Your mileage may vary.)
Create a culture in which your team feels like a team. Invite them to nominate each other for special recognition when it’s merited, and be sure the rest of the company knows about the team's accomplishments. According to Gallup, employees are more likely to stay at your company when they regularly receive praise. Schwantes recommends as frequently as once a week. These workers also get higher loyalty and satisfaction ratings from customers.
Consider the example set by property/casualty company Acuity, which invites employees to take part in their annual strategic planning. They also have a culture in which employees participate in critical decisions. Plus a tiny 2% turnover rate.
It’s always important to watch for employee engagement, and a pulse survey is something you should consider since it makes sure you always have the latest info on how your staff is feeling at a particular point in time. After all, a recent Gallup study revealed only 30% of all employees are fully engaged with their jobs.
That means 70% are disengaged, or “actively disengaged.” Of course, companies that find themselves with a wealth of disengaged employees at their disposal will soon learn how hard it is to get to the next level.