Take Action to Retain the Best

Throughout 2017 we heard from Employers Council members that the greatest business challenge has been the identification, recruitment, and retention of the best employees (those high-performers who reliably drive results). Looking ahead to 2018, the situation may actually become worse due to continued strong economic performance, restricted immigration and enforcement, and improved retirement portfolios that may encourage more employees to retire. The high level of competition between employers for the best employees will only increase. Take action now to retain the best employees, or lose them to competitors.

Researchers from Arizona State University and Utah State University identified 13 common “PQBs” (Pre-Quitting Behaviors)* that indicate an employee is likely to quit. Employers may wish to take heed of these traits, especially front-line supervisors who are the most likely to observe PQBs and intervene to retain a high performer who is showing signs of leaving. Germane to this article are the proactive strategies employers can take to discourage employees from quitting in the first place, including:

  • Compensation: competitive base pay with variable (e.g. bonus) opportunities linked to individual and team performance.
  • Culture: employees desire a culture that provides them with opportunities to grow, learn, and contribute in meaningful ways; this included special assignments and challenging projects.
  • Contact: employees crave and welcome constructive contact with their immediate supervisors, including clear and timely communications about workplace operations and personal performance.
  • Conduct stay interviews at regular intervals with high performers to gauge engagement and satisfaction.

Employer analysis completed by Jacob Morgan reveals a strong link between investments made in the “employee experience” and the retention, engagement, and productivity of employees. Investments in these three areas improves business outcomes:

  • Technology: help employees do their jobs by investing in the best tech you can afford
  • Workspace Design: employees value a healthy and inspiring work environment
  • Workplace Culture: invest in efforts to create an inclusive and team-oriented culture

An ongoing, 14-year longitudinal study completed by Bruce Tulgan asserts that revolutionary workplace changes are underway, largely driven by the generational shift toward Millennials who are transforming workplace norms. He suggests that employers who are most likely to retain the best employees are those who:

  • Offer an array of employment options: full/part time, contract, telecommute, special assignments, gigs, etc.;
  • Reward the most talented employees with high pay, “lush benefits,” and “dream jobs” (autonomy, creative, discretion, learning new skills, opportunities to innovate, etc.);
  • Offer all employees some degree of “dream job” characteristics to maintain internal harmony.

Bottom line – to retain the best employees, employers must invest in their well-being and expect and support their front-line
supervisors and managers to:

  • Pay attention to employees for signs of disengagement and intervene quickly and personally with immediate actions. Allocate 1:1 focused time to employees, especially top performers.
  • Communicate clearly and frequently to employees about specific performance; listen to employees and encourage them to voice their concerns and ideas.
  • Provide employees with opportunities to learn, innovate, and contribute in new and meaningful ways.

Employers Council provides a variety of resources to help your organization’s performance, including coaching, workshops, and leadership academies. Take action and contact us today.

For questions about this article, please reach out at 800.884.1328 or library@EmployersCouncil.org.