You Might Be Right – But Here are 3 Culture-Shifting Strategies You Can Use to Keep Your Best Employees from Leaving

Should you be worried that some of your best employees might be considering switching jobs in the New Year?

Actually… yes, you probably should. It happens to the best of us. A recent study by Glassdoor found January to be the most popular month for job changes.

The New Year offers the promise of new adventures, fresh starts, big ideas, and the promise of the unknown. For any employee who’s feeling stuck in a rut, a little unchallenged or bored, underpaid, or dissatisfied with something at the company, a new year offers an attractive proposition:

Seize the day.

It’s built into all of us, and once the fire of innovation and risk-taking gets sparked, it’s not easy to snuff it out.

So what should you as an employer do?

There are two possibilities you could be facing:

  1. One or more of your best employees has already told you they plan to leave, or they’re getting ready to tell you
  2. You’re worried one of your best employees might leave, but don’t know if your fears are founded

In either case, the solutions are the same. No, you don’t want to stifle the flames of innovation and risk-taking. Rather, you need to find a way to kindle them at your own company for these top employees at your company.

When you implement the 3 solutions below, if you’re facing possibility #2, you can be confident you’re doing everything you can to retain your best staff. And if your best employees have already told you they’re leaving, or maybe thinking about leaving (though that’s rare – usually it’s without warning), this gives you one last chance to win them back.

But even if they still leave, putting these practices in place will help you retain your other top employees for longer, and will increase the quality of your workplace culture in ways that will benefit you for decades.


1. Communicate Well and Often

The number one reason the best employees leave isn’t money. It’s because they sense a lack of career advancement at their current company. That’s from a LinkedIn survey of over 10,000 people.

But why do so many believe no opportunities exist for them to progress at their current companies?

This is something you and your leaders should be talking about with your best employees – all the time.

You need to have a continuous dialogue going. Involve them in decision-making that’s appropriate for them. Ask for input. Keep them in the loop, not in the dark. Know how their families are doing and something of what’s going on in their lives. Be aware of their 5 and 10-year career goals, and talk regularly about how you can continue to meet them.

If you build this kind of ongoing communication into your company culture and stream it down through your leadership positions, your best employees will feel a sense of ownership in the company, and will see themselves growing with it.

This applies to businesses of all sizes.

And when you talk, be sure to listen. When top employees start to pull back, miss more days, take the lead on new tasks less often, and things of this sort, you know something isn’t working for them like it did before. Go after them now while you still have a chance to remedy the problem and retain them.


2. Pay Appropriately and In Ways Employees Care About

Compensation isn’t just salary. And it’s not just benefits. Those are the two biggest of course. But if you have a central office, the money you invest in your facility, the break rooms, the celebrations, the amenities – these play a sizable role in your employees’ perspective on their jobs.

Everything costs money. The question is, do you want to spend money hiring new people all the time, or spend money keeping your best employees so they don’t leave?

In the long run, it costs you less to invest in keeping your best employees.

Compensation should also be tied to the performance of the business. Disillusionment begins to set in when employees see the company exploding in revenue, but their salaries and bonuses don’t reflect that. This is even more true among your best employees.

Where does your growth come from? Certainly your employees play a pivotal role, so show them how much you value them. This can be in the form of bonuses, raises, profit-sharing, stock options – you know all the possibilities and creative ways you can share the fortunes of growth.

But you must be proactive and transparent about this. Surprises have their place, but not here. Employees should know that if certain targets are met, everyone gets rewarded.

And adding in additional incentives for individual performance, if your industry and company have the ability to measure them accurately enough, takes this even a step further. When employees know who the best workers are, they expect them to get a bigger share of the rewards.

Compensation can also come in the form of public rewards and recognition. This may mean salary changes later, but people who are doing great work want to be recognized for it. This builds intrinsic motivation.


3. Keep Your Eyes on Your Leadership Team

Many of the best employees leave because they’re tired of putting up with poor leadership. This can be true at all levels of management.

Do you know who ALL your best employees are? At a large company, you probably don’t. But your lower level leaders should. If you ask ten team leaders who their top team members are, and three of the leaders give vague answers, that’s a good indication those three managers might need some extra attention from you because they may not be as connected to their teams as they need to be. And, the best employees on their teams are the ones most likely to leave first.

One ineffective leader at any position in your company will infect the whole business, because everyone who works under them thinks of the whole company the way they think of that leader.

So you need to know how your leaders are doing. And if they need to be reassigned or let go, don’t hesitate to take action. Big change always begins at the top.

And that’s where PainLess Hire can help. If you need to remove an ineffective leader and don’t think anyone else in your company is right for their position, we help companies like yours find the very best person for your position.

We do this using skills and personality pre-tests as part of our hiring process. The more clearly you’re able to define your leadership position, and know exactly what kind of person thrives best in it – not just resumes and experience but the right soft skills too – the higher quality list of candidates we will find you. See this case study for an example of replacing a failing leader.


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