There are 3 boxes that you the boss or HR pro usually check off when your company is looking to reduce turnover – ensure job security, offer sexy compensation, and maintain a willingness to hear out employee questions, concerns, and complaints.
That sounds like a pretty good place for an employee to hang out their shingle, doesn’t it? But oddly enough for certain employees – the star players, the ladies and gentlemen for whom their career isn’t just a way to pay their bills but is their calling – these 3 points may feel like an anchor weighing them down.
A lot of the real star players in your field are going to be looking at your retention stats. But they’re not going to be looking at your 85% retention rate and thinking, “Wow, that company really knows how to reduce turnover.”
The number they’re interested in is how many people took what they learned from working with you and went out on their own to try to start up their own company.
Compensation is actually a tricky bit of business. Why? Because the general feeling in most companies is that compensation has to be served up on a level playing field. If employee X (a run-of-the-mill employee) has been around for so long, they should automatically get compensation boost Y.
Sounds reasonable, right? Unfortunately it doesn’t do much to reduce turnover in your top guns. They’re the ones innovating, bringing their A-game, working out new ideas on their own time before they make a presentation to you.
But they’re forced to wait for a boost in their compensation is the service of keeping everything fair. This is the kind of opportunity that makes your competition’s HR department drool – they can leap in with new starter packages far sexier than what you currently have on the table. Bye-bye ace talent.
While your top talent may have been super-excited to come on board originally they’ve since stagnated. They’re bored. Business as usual is the death-knell to their creativity… and these people live to create.
So what do you do to reduce turnover in these big fish in your talent pool?
Talk It Out
You’re first going to have to decide if you’re more worried about retaining these top talents or the rank-and-file employees. Sometimes working towards one of these goals will ruffle the feathers of the other category.
If you come down on the side of the star talent, then it’s time to have a talk. Be clear – this is not a performance review; this is a conversation between you and your employee intended to shape your company’s relationship with them in order to keep them on board.
Explain your vision – It helps to have a vision for your company – where you’re going to be in a year, five years, ten. If you don’t have such a vision, it really pays to figure one out.
Get specific in how that particular employee factors into that vision, how they’re going to help build this wonderful new thing.
Everybody wants to be a part of something big. They want to know that their contributions are important, and might even make the difference between success and failure.
Keep Things Fresh – Top talent gets bored. To reduce turnover in the upper echelons you’re going to have to offer the chance for that star employee to learn something new or to take on new challenges. If they don’t have those challenges they’re going to look for them somewhere else.
Maybe you’re an established company that doesn’t really bank on innovating. You’re going to have to find something for your talent to work on. Create a project with them in mind. Not only does this help reduce turnover with your big players, but it’s an opportunity for your company to expand and explore new avenues.
Get Perky – Offer some choices that the rank and file just don’t receive. Maybe that means more one-on-one face time with you, the boss. Perhaps it means the opportunity to work a certain number of days from home.
Will this ruffle feathers in the “It’s just a job” pool of talent? Maybe. But there’s a chance it might also inspire them. If you’re offering these goodies to someone who is obviously a go-getter, an innovator, maybe it will inspire the rest of the gang to up their game a little.
It’s a balancing act to be sure. It is indeed possible that you’re going to cause some grumbling in the mob. There may be some tough decisions in your future.
But hey, that’s why you’re the boss, right?