Six steps to retain your best employees


People are not your most important asset…the right people are.” James C. Collins

The right employee often carries intangible value that is difficult to replicate. Great staff have vast institutional knowledge of the organisation, their products, systems, processes and clientele.

Alarmingly, staffing company Randstad says that 40% of employees are planning to look for a new job within the next six months. Another survey notes that 69% of employees are already at least passively shopping for new job opportunities Harvard Business Review.

When a great employee leaves the company, the cost, effort and time associated with hiring and training their replacement, along with their loss of industry and company knowledge, is often difficult to replicate.

Failure to retain a key employee is both damaging to the bottom line and creates organisational issues such as insecure employees.

When an organisation loses a great employee it causes other employees to have reason to stop and think, “Why would that person leave the organisation, and why would the organisation let them get away? Is there something wrong with this company that I should be worried about? Forbes

What are the reasons why your best employees leave your company? Forbes

  1. Lower compensation than industry standards
  2. Underutilised for their talents
  3. Leaving their manager, not the company
  4. Growth within the company is stagnant
  5. Toxic work culture

Often, a great employee leaves a company simply because they can. A recent Fast Company article argued that employees who change jobs more often get paid more and have higher learning curves.

For many employees though, a higher salary isn’t the most important factor when it comes to job satisfaction. Recognition, flexibility and responsibility can be more meaningful attributes that contribute to overall job happiness.

With that, what are some ways that your company can retain its best employees?:

  1. Pay above standard rates – While salary isn’t always everything to an employee, a lower salary can lead to an individual feeling undervalued and underappreciated. Review the average industry rate for that position in your region and determine the value of the employee to your company. Find a rate that is befitting to the employee in reference to their overall contributions to the company’s mission.
  2. Promote appropriately and provide training/development – Dead end jobs with no visible career progression or new learnings eventually take a toll on the employee and on their desire to remain in your organisation. Create learning and development programs that provide avenues for growth –both horizontally into other related departments and vertically in their own.
  3. Encourage creative innovation – According to a report by Hongkiat, Google is a strong supporter of creativity in the workplace, creating a “20%” program that gives its developers permission to spend 20% of their work hours on a creative project of their own desire (Forbes). The idea is simple – people enjoy creating things and the company subsequently benefits from improved innovation. By allowing employees the opportunity to express themselves through creative opportunities, you promote an open, fun and positive work environment.
  4. Get off their backs – Employees don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. Micromanaging lowers confidence, suppresses innovation and leads to resentment and insecurity. Micromanaging results from the idea that no work will be as good as what you, the manager, can produce. To prevent this, focus on what should be the most important factor when evaluating an employee, the results from their work – not by what method they used to get there and how it may differ from your own.
  5. Create a positive work environment – Negative working conditions can lead to increased team-conflict, hostility, fears of dismissal, stress, and unhappiness. This ultimately leads to employees seeking their next opportunity elsewhere. Creating an inclusive and happy environment will promote an atmosphere where people look forward to going to work each day.
  6. Offer a flexible schedule – Life is busy. We all have obligations outside our Monday to Friday work life. The typical 9-5 schedule may not work for every employee. Flexible schedules suited to the individual’s needs creates a sense of loyalty within the employee for the company. When the employee views the company as being there for them, that feeling often becomes mutual. Offer flexible working hours, remote work opportunities and relaxed annual leave days.

Your company is only as good as its employees. The people that work for you are who your customers see and interact with. Great employees are a dime a dozen, keep them engaged, satisfied and happy in their role to keep them in that role for the foreseeable future.