How to Retain Top Talent in Today’s Workforce

Over the past few years, there’s been a profound shift in the US workplace, specifically with the employer-employee relationship. The workforce today is extremely crowded, unevenly talented, and multi-generational — a major challenge for most employers to recruit and keep employees for long periods of time. However, we all know that turnover is expensive. Attracting and retaining talent is critical to an organization’s success.

Historically, the “corporate ladder” served as the way to retain employees. Employees were granted promotions simply for their tenure at an organization. In recent years, companies are moving to structures where the most talented and valuable employees are rewarded. This new reality implies a shared contract where employers are obligated to help their employees achieve their career goals, as long as the relationship remains mutually beneficial.

Your best workers are going to produce your best work. Here are six ways you can implement a strategy that retains your top players:

1. Start before they’re hired. During the interview process, you’re making first impressions and discovering if candidates have the skills to match the desired role. How long they will stay at your company might not be top of mind, but it should be.

2. Sell your “why.” Candidates should fully understand your company’s mission and agree on your strategy to move forward.

  • Ensure the candidate wants the job, not just the idea of it. Find out exactly what they’re looking for, what motivates them everyday, and be sure you are being realistic about what this job entails.
  • Conduct a “stay” interview. Set up a half-day interview so the candidate can get a better idea of what it’s like to work in your culture.
  • Be intentional with how you onboard. Onboarding sets the stage for the employee-worker relationship. The speed of the logistical process and the level of training can set the tone for either a productive or destructive relationship. In addition to proper technical training, be sure you are setting up your new hire to be well acclimated into the new culture.

PREMIUM CONTENT: North America Internal Staff Survey 2019: Initial Findings

3. Provide training & continuous learning. While motivations may vary, it’s clear that all high-performing employees value additional training and learning opportunities. Set up a variety of learning experiences that appeal to all different learning styles in your organization. This can be through industry seminars, a mentorship program, or even taking on special projects outside of their usual workload.

4. Offer a flexible work environment. Not all of your employees will thrive in the same type of environment. Instead of attempting a “one-size-fits-all” approach, try offering your employee’s options that they can choose to do their best work in.

  • Office layout. Some of your employees might work best in solidarity and prefer a confined cubicle. Others may thrive in a high-energy environment and prefer an open-layout with their team.
  • Dress code. Most employees favor companies that allow a more lenient dress code, where they are trusted to make their own decisions when it comes to appropriate dress.
  • Open Door policy. An open-door atmosphere allows employees to feel they can appropriately voice their ideas and concerns without being confined to process or protocol. They also want to see their ideas seriously considered by the higher-ups and not just tossed by the wayside.
  • Optimal work/life balance is a major motivator for employees. Often times, offering telecommuting options makes sense productivity-wise and boosts employee morale. However, for this to work successfully, senior management needs to establish defined goals and expectations for their staff.

5. Provide frequent constructive criticism and praise. Instead of conducting annual performance reviews, consider opting for a more direct real-time approach. When communicated in the right way, most employees will appreciate feedback that helps them improve in-the-moment. Consistent one-on-one meetings is a great time to provide your employees with ongoing feedback, advice, and praise.

6. Make your employees feel like an asset to the company. If your employees feel like they are making real contributions to the company, they will feel more invested and secure in their job. When you’re faced with an issue, ask for some quick informal input. In addition, set up formal check-in points that survey employee’s happiness on a regular basis. You’ll be surprised how many great ideas, and how your company can evolve for the better, simply by asking.


Mary Kristynik

Mary Kristynik
Mary Kristynik, CCWP, is the principal owner of Greywood Consulting LLC. She has more than 20 years' experience in the industry. She can be reached at mary (at) greywoodconsultingllc (dot) com.

Mary Kristynik

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