Why do the good employees leave? Engaging and keeping the “keepers”

Have you ever wondered why it's the good people in your organisation who move on – yet the "dead wood" effectively quit and stay?

Recognising and rewarding talent in your organisation – and engaging those people so that they want to help you succeed in business – is a critical competitive advantage that you possess and should harness. Step 1 is, of course, identifying and recognising who your talent is. There are usually a number of key attributes that these people have that differentiate them from others – and it's not all about their skills and experience. As a starting point, make sure you know what the key characteristics that are vital to your organisation's success are. This may be customer focus, innovation and creativity, drive and ambition, or teamwork. Your "A" players are those who demonstrate these key characteristics most consistently and who deliver superior results.

Here's the thing – employees who are challenged, engaged, valued, and rewarded (emotionally, intellectually & financially) rarely leave, and more importantly, they perform at very high levels. However, if you miss any of these critical areas, it's only a matter of time until they head for the front door.

Contrary to popular belief, not all employees want to be the CEO. They do, however, want to know that they are:

  • Listened to
  • Given opportunities to showcase their abilities as they arise
  • Recognised for the contribution they make
  • Valued

The fake reason good employees leave their jobs is "An amazing job offer flew in from left field and fell in my lap. I was made an offer I couldn't refuse". If you believe that story, I've got a lovely bridge over Sydney Harbour that I'd like to sell you. Most people do not want to go out and find a new job. It's a huge pain in the neck. Instead, they rationalize their boss's bad behaviour or their company's bureaucratic policies. They try as hard as they can to make it work, but they are pushed to start job-hunting by the little slights and insults that build up over time: that promised pay rise that didn't ever happen, that promotion that was given to the boss's son-in-law, that day off on day of their kid's school concert that was cancelled because a rush order came in.

So how do you keep them?

  1. Talk to them
    Let them know that they are valued, that their contribution is important, and that they have a future within the organisation. That said, be both specific and sincere about what that looks like – a smart, talented employee will see straight through platitudes and false promises. Make sure they understand what's expected of them in addition to what you / the company will do.

  2. Nurture them
    Discuss their aspirations, their ambitions and their goals. Help them devise a plan that you and the organisation can contribute to – whether it involves mentoring / coaching, stretch work assignments, or new skills development. Even in a small organisation, you can find meaningful and challenging work for talented employees (heck, give them some of your work to do!!)

  3. Recognise and reward them in a way that's meaningful for them
    Ensure that you are paying them fairly for the job that they do and the results they deliver.Find out what motivates them – it might not be just about money. It could be work / life balance, the opportunity to learn, being publicly (or privately) acknowledged, or something completely different!

  4. Inspire them
    It's long been said that people don't leave companies, they leave bosses. Poor leadership can mean many things from micromanagement, to too little management, to a lack of consistency in management. The crux of it is, poor leadership skills can make an employee not believe in the company, which is bad for your business.

HR Success's 8 Elements to Achieving Success through People© can be a turning point in helping you identify, inspire and grow your talent – give us a call if you'd like to find out how!

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