Retain Your Top Performers: Give Them TIME

Charlotte Westerhaus-Renfrow

By: Charlotte Westerhaus-Renfrow - Senior Lecturer of Management, Indiana University Kelley School of Business

Category: Workforce

You know it's important to hire great employees. That is why your organization has systems in place to recruit and hire the best people. But are you finding that getting the best and brightest employees to stay is another matter altogether? Can you afford to lose your top performers?

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Retention of A-list employees is a major battle many businesses are currently fighting. Life Work Solutions, a provider of staff retention and consulting services, found that over 50 percent of people recruited to an organization will leave within 2 years and one in four of new hires will leave within 6 months. Moreover, a recently released study, "Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2015," reported that employee retention is now the #1 problem companies face today.

Turnover is costly. According to Right Management, a talent and career management consulting firm, it costs nearly three times an employee's salary to replace someone, which includes recruitment, severance, and lost productivity.

Worst yet, your best former employee may become your competitor's future star employee. As a result, your organization may start looking like the last time you watched your favorite sports team face an opponent with clearly superior talent. It wasn't pretty.

What to Do?

Four effective tactics - Training, Inclusion, Mentoring, and Engagement (TIME) - can help your organization hold on to great workers.

Training: Think of training as an efficient and cost effective strategy to re-recruit your best employees to meet your organization's FUTURE needs (pending retirements, growth in business and infrastructure change). Give stellar employees an accurate and balanced menu of development opportunities. Invest training dollars into employees FUTURE roles and you will reap outstanding internal candidates to fill those FUTURE positions when they open.

Inclusion: According to a recent Gallup study, organizations with inclusive cultures have 22 percent lower turnover in addition, perform better in several key areas, including:

--39 percent higher customer satisfaction
--22 percent greater productivity
--27 percent higher profitability.

Link inclusion expectations to specific behavioral expectations to generate trust, drive action, and help your organization achieve superior business outcomes. Include in all new hire letters a concise and motivational sentence that states the organization's inclusion values and vision. Conduct quarterly staff meetings devoted to work-culture topics such as teamwork, communication, and inclusion. Set professional development goals for each member of your company related to at least one aspect of communication and inclusion.

Mentoring: Your employees want to be included and feel like they fit in your company or organization. However, more often than not, even the most talented new employees find it tough to feel connected because most people tend to form social groups with similar people. Your company may need to mix things up. Utilize mentors to connect with your employees in different departments for idea sharing and to lead projects that include co-workers from different areas. Instruct mentors to not only help younger employees figure out what they need to do to get ahead, but to also alert you to emerging talent that you can retain and redeploy to fill open positions.

Engagement: Engaged employees are more likely to be loyal to an organization. So how can you engage and retain your best employees? Start with this: Pick up a mirror; look into your eyes; and say, "Employee engagement is a direct reflection of how employees feel about their relationship with me."

Now put the mirror down and get to work doing the following:

--Clarify your expectations of your employees.
--Give positive and constructive feedback to employees on a regular basis.
--Conduct "stay" interviews to find out why people stay at -- and what would make them leave.
--Build and coach teams of employees with an eye on creating an environment of trust and collaboration.

An engaged workforce must first be engaged with you. When you authentically connect with your employees, your employees will engage and stick with your organization.

Remember, just because your dream candidate is employed with you now doesn't mean he or she isn't looking to make moves. Once you have that stellar employee, it becomes a whole other job to retain him or her. Give your employees constructive and active TIME (Training, Inclusion, Mentoring and Engagement) before your competition does.

Charlotte Westerhaus-Renfrow is a Senior Lecturer of Management at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University-Indianapolis.

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