Keep Your Best Employee From Jumping Ship

A recent article by Fortune contributor Jena McGregor, How To Keep Your Star Employees, reinforces a prolific problem for today’s businesses: Some of our best employees are ready to jump ship.

According to a recent survey by the Corporate Executive Board, “some 27% of employees deemed ‘high potential’ said they plan to leave within the year. That rate of dissatisfaction is rising ‘precipitously’ as the economy stabilizes, says Jean Martin, executive director of the CEB’s Corporate Leadership Council, up from just 10% in 2006 and increasing at twice the rate of the general employee population.”

In her article, McGregor goes on to say, “That’s the bad news. The good news is that perks aren’t the only way to keep your high performers engaged. They want a mix of recognition and challenges that stretch them without completely stressing them out.”

She cites four retention strategies used by top companies to combat this challenge:

1. Start a talent agency

2. Change up bonus time

3. Send them abroad — if it fits

4. Expand the brain trust

These are four great ideas.  Here are my additions to the list:

  • Identify Talent Ambassadors

It’s critical to create an organization that is highly desirable and focused on getting the RIGHT people into the RIGHT jobs. Engagement is much easier when organizations use internal resources to search for and select the right people for the company. One great way to do this is using your “stars” as “talent ambassadors.”  This type of initiative is  a great way to motivate and reward employees — it keeps them engaged and excited about the organization as they speak to potential new hires and helps the organization attract the right people.

  • Get your staff involved in learning and development

Learning and development plays a critical role in keeping employees engaged and productive throughout their lifetime of service.  These types of initiatives are absolutely critical for our high-potential employees, but it also helps the entire talent pool gain new skills, knowledge and competencies.  Get creative and use people already on your staff as subject matter experts to facilitate Lunch-and-Learn programs, mentor and provide new experiences to the rest of the company.

Creating a culture of employee engagement helps you keep your best talent through turbulent times and keeps them onboard, not jumping ship.

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