How to Retain your Star Employees

In today’s low unemployment, employee-driven job market, employee
retention is more important than ever! It’s hard to find great employees –
heck, it’s hard to find warm bodies – so is makes sense to do everything you
can to hang on to the ones you have.

The cost of turnover is often way underestimated. The
obvious costs are hiring and training costs, but there is also lost
opportunity, morale, reputation, customer relationships, and other intangibles
that are harder to measure.

The cost of turnover is even higher when you lose a great
employee, one of those “A player” superstars. 
A study
published in Personal Psychology
showed that the top 5 percent of
the workforce produce 26 percent of an organization’s total output. The
top-performing 5 percent produced 400 percent more than you would expect (26
percent rather than 5 percent).

That means that top performers produce more than four times
So if the average cost of turnover is $_____, then it is 4X
$_____ for your best employees.

While top employees are hard to keep – they tend to
promoted, “pulled” into better opportunities, and may have higher expectations,
here are 10 things that a smart manager can do to minimize the chances of
losing their best employees for the wrong reasons:

1. Retention starts with the hiring process. Hiring
great employees isn’t just about finding employees with the right set of skills
and experiences. It’s important to find out what motivates the employee, what
they find satisfying and dissatisfying in a job, what their short and long
range career goals are, the type of boss they like to work for, and assessing
for cultural fit. You have to go beyond the resume and LinkedIn profile, and
dig deep with phone screens and
in-depth interviewing.
When you hire good employees that are a good fit for the job
and have the right motivations, chances are, those employees will be more successful
and satisfied.

2. Run a successful business or team. That’s your #1
priority as a leader. No one likes playing on a losing team or going down with
a sinking ship. Bad employees will stay and suffer, great employees will eventually
leave. If you’re faced with this kind of turnaround challenge, don’t let your
HR manager talk you into doing an employee satisfaction survey. Invite them to
step up and help you right the business – that’s the most important thing you
can do to satisfy your employees.

3. Provide a good on boarding experience. Everyone remembers their first
few weeks on the job – bad or good. Good

sets the tone and lays the foundation for retention. Make sure
your new employees get the training, coaching, and support they need to be

4. Provide competitive salaries and benefits. Use salaries and benefits
as a baseline, and build meaningful perks from there. While a manager’s hands
may be tied when it comes to how much money they can pay, flexibility and work
environment can often help compensate.

5. Trust them. Give your super-star employees the
opportunity to use their unique strengths every day. Many of the best ideas
float up to the top from down below—if that is allowed and encouraged. If it
isn’t, employees may get bored or upset, and they won’t be doing what they do

6. Provide career development opportunities. Have regular career
discussions with employees, allow them to explore options, provide information
about opportunities, and help them make connections. Help them achieve their
career goals, don’t be a road block.

7. Build a relationship with every employee. Get to
know each of your employees, find out about their personal lives, their
interests, values, hopes, fears, and wishes. Show them that you care, and
you’re looking out for their best interests and want them to be successful.
Take the time to have regular 1on1s, with no interruptions and your undivided

8. Say “thank you.” In creative, informal
ways, acknowledge how much employees’ various contributions mean to you. Top
employees will often say on exit interviews they never really felt appreciated.
Praise is cheap, use it lavishly.

9. Deal with under performers. Good employees don’t
like working with slackers. Train, coach, counsel, coach them
out of the job
, or fire them, consistently and with dignity.

10. Respect individuality. Not all employees are created equal.
Recognize their individual needs, and adapt assignments, perks, and recognition
accordingly. Loosen up those stale old policies and let them fly their “freak