3 Strategies to Retain Your Best Employees — and to Advance Their Careers

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Dec 24, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Do you employees really need to leave their jobs to advance their careers?

Apparently so.

A survey by the Gallup Organization found that 93 percent of American workers left their current employer the last time they changed roles!

It’s natural for employees to want to advance in their careers, but the tendency for workers to move out of their organizations instead of changing roles within their companies poses significant problems for employers.

Squandering opportunities

An obvious – and incredibly expensive – outcome of this revelation is the enormous cost of this employee churn. According to many estimates, it can cost up to 150 percent of an employee’s annual salary to replace them.

And assuming that at least some – or perhaps many – of these employees were making significant contributions within their organizations, and may even have been capable of playing a much greater role, the opportunity loss is staggering.

Beyond the assault to the bottom line, Gallup warns that turnover can damage team dynamics due to the loss of an employee’s unique expertise and the burden of extra work other employees must shoulder until a replacement can be trained.

Further, losing talented, knowledgeable staff can be a drain on a company’s leadership pipeline, and rampant attrition can also take a toll on an organization’s carefully cultivated workplace culture.

3 strategies to keep your best employees

So what’s to be done to reverse this trend? Based on Gallup’s workplace expertise, they recommend the following strategies to help leaders select and retain their best employees.

  1. Hire the right people — When it comes to getting the best employees, Gallup’s science overwhelmingly supports a data-driven, talent-based approach. By working hard from the start to select individuals with the right talent for the role, organizations end up with workers who are the right fit for the company and the culture. These employees are more likely to become top performers who use their strengths every day and are more likely to stay and grow within the organization.
  2. Mold jobs to people, not people to jobs — Playing to employees’ strengths is far more effective than trying to improve their weaknesses. When managers possess a deep understanding of their employees’ strengths, they’re able to shape each individual’s role to make the most of that person’s talents. This feeds employee engagement and motivates employees to stay. Crafting jobs to maximize people’s talents also builds stronger teams. By orchestrating each individual’s strengths to fit the team’s goals, leaders promote workgroup engagement and drive team performance.
  3. Keep managers committed and accessible — After an organization invests time and money in hiring great people, it’s in the organization’s best interest to help them continue to grow. This means putting great managers in place to provide ongoing performance feedback and to position employees for even greater success. But managers must demonstrate to their employees they care about them as individuals and about their personal goals. By making career mobility conversations a regular occurrence, managers can help employees stay on track with their aspirations.

Turnover is a challenge to measure — and manage

This will create a progressive culture – one employees don’t need to leave for a vocational refresh or to achieve their dreams. When workers feel comfortable talking with their managers they’re significantly more likely to be engaged in their work and more likely to remain with their company.

Regardless of an organization’s industry or size, turnover is a challenge that leaders need to measure and manage.

Fortunately, there are steps leaders can take to minimize the damage and keep their workforces strong. It benefits their organization to hire top talent and adopt strategies designed to keep their high-performing workers engaged and onboard.

A different version of this was originally published on the OC Tanner blog.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.