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4 Ways to Keep Your Top Employees from Searching for Other Jobs

4 Ways to Keep Your Top Employees from Searching for Other Jobs

Do you have someone (or several someones) working for your company that you’d do almost anything to keep? Maybe they have a knack for dealing with your customers, or perhaps they have a way of getting your suppliers to go the extra mile. Whatever it is that makes them invaluable to you, the last thing you want to do is lose them to your competitors—something that some of them may be considering, according to statistics.

A 2014 survey conducted by found that more than one-fifth of the 3,000+ employees questioned indicated that they wanted to change jobs within the next 12 months. What if your top talent is within this 21 percent and either considering or actively searching for a job elsewhere? What can you do to retain him or her and make them want to stay?

Engage Your Top Employees

ERC, a human resources service organization in Northeast Ohio, points out that engaged employees exhibit a lot of passion and pride in their work. They tend to make decisions for the benefit of the company as a whole and feel as if they are able to help it progress, offering everything they’ve got to further its growth. Disengaged employees are another story completely.

A study published by Harvard Business Review involving over 20,000 surveyed employees discovered that, of those that felt disengaged, one in three don’t give their work their all. Additionally, one-fourth plan to find other work within the next 12 months and four out of five don’t feel confidence in higher levels of management. All of this can definitely hurt your business in the long run.

One way to help your best employees feel engaged is to take notice of the good work they do for your company. This starts from the time they begin working for you and continues throughout their entire employ. It’s also helpful to find some way to connect their personal goals with the goals of your small business while empowering them to take action on behalf of your company.

Provide Them Access to Leadership

Johnson & Johnson is a great example of a company that provides their star employees with the things they need to become one of their next leaders. One of the ways they do this is by adhering to a “5 Conversations Framework” which involves the individual employee meeting with someone in management several times throughout the year to provide clarity about expectations, assess goal alignment, and recognize their contributions to the company.

Think about your small business and what you do to provide your top employees access to people in leadership positions within your organization, giving them the feedback they need to not only grow, but also to make them want to stay. How often do they meet? What processes are in place to ensure that they have everything they need so that they (and you) succeed?

Your current leaders are valuable tools. Use them to help get your next set of leaders ready for the challenge.

Give Them Room to Shine

The Harvard Business Review study also discovered that companies who tried to protect their emerging stars from failure actually did the employee and their business a great disservice. While it’s easy to see why you might want to take this route, by putting your top staff in “safe” situations and positions, you’re never allowing them to reach their full potential, which likely means that they miss out on some prime opportunities to grow and advance your business at the same time.

So, what changes can you make in your small business that would allow your top talent to shine? Is there an open position that you can move one of them into or a higher level position that could be created that would benefit both the person and the company? Harvard suggests putting your top players in “live fire” positions where they have no choice but to develop the skills to succeed, which is exactly what they will do.

Recognize Them Through Higher Pay

A few months ago, The New York Times ran a story about Dan Price, the owner of a credit card payment processing company, who decided that he was going to pay all of his employees at least $70,000 annually. While the reason he did this was noble, he wanted to increase the happiness of his employees, it had an unintended and somewhat negative effect.

It has been reported by news sources such as the Seattle Times that at least two of his “most valued employees” have quit working at Gravity Payments, even though the money promised was more than what they were making initially. The reason cited by at least one was the fact that the pay was not being dispensed according to the work being done by each employee. In her case, she worked hard and went several years without earning pay raises which put a bad taste in her mouth when she thought about the fact that others would be earning exactly as much as her without giving all of the effort.

The lesson here is that you can make your top employees feel more valuable by paying higher wages, giving bonuses, or even providing stock options. Reward them financially for a job well done and they’ll be more inclined to want to keep doing a good job for you and only you.

While these are four ways to retain your most talented employees, what things have you done in your own business to keep your treasured employees by your side? Feel free to share below so that other small business owners can do the same!

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by Christina DeBusk // Freelance writer, author, and small business consultant committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.