Retaining Top Employees is all About Leadership

There are many decisions that impact any company?s ability to retain their workforce. The topic of attracting and retaining top employees is a very high visibility topic now. Today?s (1/17/2019) Wall Street Journal makes the point that executives in every region identified their ability to attract and retain top employees their primary challenge.

What does it take to retain top employees and who is responsible for doing so? The challenge of retaining top employees, like most workforce related challenges is driven by the decisions and behaviors of leaders and what they support and allow. There is no doubt that the fundamentals of competitive compensation, benefits and all the normal perks need to be in place for any company to be competitive in the employment marketplace. The stakes have gone up over the last few years with the changing workforce demographics along with a sustained robust economy. Perks like meals and snacks being provided, on site beer kegs, visits by masseuses, bringing dogs to work, handling laundry and dry cleaning, Foosball and ping pong tables and a long list of other offerings have become standard in many industries. Do these perks help with retention of top performers? My research of Best Places to Work says no. These things have become table stakes.

?What does support the retention of top performers and why is it a leadership responsibility?

The answer to the leadership responsibility question is easy when followed by the broader question of ?what is not a leadership responsibility?? in an organizational setting? Leaders throughout any organization set the tone and ultimately design or approve all policies, procedures, processes etc. They also answer the key questions of who are we, where are we going, why are we going there and what are the values that will determine how we behave on the journey. Leaders make the decisions and lead the behaviors that impact the retention of top performers

Although there is much written about the demands and needs of the current workforce, leaders that understand what is required to engage their workforce and have those things and behaviors in place will have a leg up in retaining their top performers. One fundamental behavior that is often missing in organizational setting is recognizing and treating each member of the workforce as an individual human. It is very easy for companies to see the people who work for them as the workforce, human resources, FTE?s and any additional names applied to the employees as a group. Unless leaders know their top performers as humans and truly understand them, they will always have a challenge keeping their top performers. It?s very easy to get busy working toward achieving goals and failing to recognize what it takes to engage other humans.

There is no shortcut to achieving high levels of engagement and it always requires knowing and understanding the individuals that report to you. Assuming you are competitive on the basics discussed earlier engaged individuals don?t leave. We are all in the people business. We always have been and with the changing nature of work it is much more obvious today than in the past.

Make the commitment to truly know the people who report to you and be sure that every other leader does the same and your retention challenges will be significantly diminished.

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