How to craft a plan to keep your best employees


Cindi Filer, CEO of Innovative Outsourcing, offers her advice.

Your best employee may have just accepted a new job offer, and the resignation letter is heading to your desk.

In our message last week, and continuing today, I’d like to share with you some alarming statistics on employee turnover, and then offer some equipping advice that can hopefully buffer you from this trend.  A recent Forbes article sited two research sources indicating that 74% of current workers would consider finding a new job, and 35% of those workers are actively seeking a new job. Your business is not insulated from this alarming trend, but there is a strategy you can implement now to improve your chance of retaining your talent. 

So last week, my message asked you to sort the names of your direct reports onto three lists  1) Excellent Employees, 2) Worst Employees, and 3) Everyone in Between.  Then your assignment was to ponder the names on your Excellent Employees list.  It is for those people that we will now be crafting a retention plan.

First, let’s consider the reasons people leave their job.  For each person on your Excellent Employees list, fill in their name as you read each reason:

  1. __________ doesn’t feel valued
  2. __________ feels they have a bad manager
  3. __________ perceives there is a lack of communication
  4. __________'s efforts aren’t recognized (pay)
  5. __________ did not get a deserved promotion
  6. __________ feels a perceived or real lack of training
  7. __________ thinks that there is no chance for promotion
  8. __________ has too much work
  9. __________ doesn't trust management 
  10. __________ doesn’t connect to the mission (purpose)

Did this raise some red flags? For example:

  • Do they love words of encouragement and due to busyness, those have been few and far between?  
  • Has that person stayed at $28/hr for the past three years without a pay raise?  
  • Have you increased her workload because she is the most trustworthy, with greatest follow through, so now she works 50 hours a week?  
  • Have you not painted a path upon which he can progress in his career and his pay as he develops within your company?  

Identify at least two things on this list of ten that stick out right now as a potential issue for each of your Excellent Employees. In our last message, I asked you to assign a rank from zero to ten of how likely that person is to resign, (remembering that a great employee for whom you think the flight risk is at zero may resign tomorrow).  This will help you assess the urgency of your necessary action. Then construct an plan for those two critical areas.  For example:

  • Raise her pay to 5% above market rate by six months from now
  • Send her to a leadership development program each month so that she feels you are investing in her and she is becoming more valuable in leading the company.

Now you have at least two action steps in place for each Excellent Employee, and you can prioritize each step based upon pending urgency.

Do you feel this seems rather simple? Actually, I have seen time and time again that this deliberate and consistent approach slows the leak of a company’s best talent.  When you focus on retaining your excellent employees, you can RETAIN MOST OF THEM.  When you consider the expense of employee turnover, even while considering your preventative investment (of your time and company resources), the savings is huge.

Remember those other two lists, the Worst Employees, and Everyone in Between? Stay tuned!  I’ll be sharing some helpful suggestions for those employees, too.