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10 Ways to Retain Your Top Employees

As we begin to come out of a difficult recession, companies need to realize that their most valued employees will be presented with other opportunities. Instead of watching your top talent walk out the door as soon as they get a better offer, try following these 10 steps to retain your top performers:

1. Clearly identify the people you want to keep. In recent years, many executives have focused on whom they should get rid of rather than on whom they should keep. It’s time to identify who your high-impact performers are.

2. Let them know that you want to keep them. When employees, especially star employees, are asked why they left an organization, many answer, “They didn’t ask me to stay!” If you have a high impact employee who is a strong asset to your company, let them know it.

3. Ask them what would make them stay. Talk with employees about what might enhance their job satisfaction and remind them of the unique benefits provided by your company. Emphasize what your firm has to offer, whether it’s a great corporate culture, solid financial standing, or strong industry reputation.

4. Provide opportunities for professional development and career advancement. Structure positions so employees can grow their careers without leaving your firm. Offer promotions to workers who have demonstrated they can succeed at the next level.

5. Recognize excellence. It seems obvious, but simply saying “thank you” and publicly acknowledging someone’s achievements and contributions will strengthen their loyalty.

6. Encourage their input. The CEO of a leading telecommunications company recently embarked on an innovative approach. Division-level executives provide a quarterly report on high-impact performers who should be recognized. The CEO personally calls to thank them for their contributions, then asks for their input on what the corporation can do to increase effectiveness. This also yields great feedback for continuous improvement.

7. Encourage more team-building activities. Many companies have cut back on employee perks, but an occasional group activity, such as a trip to the movies or an offsite lunch, can make them feel more appreciated.

8. Consider extra compensation. While not all organizations can offer increased salaries, there may be potential for spot bonuses at the end of a major project or team accomplishment.

9. Promote work/life balance. Give employees the option to follow a flexible schedule or telecommute one day a week. It doesn’t cost anything to implement these changes and workers will appreciate the flexibility.

10. Evaluate workloads. While every project may seem like a priority, there are likely some that can take a backseat to more pressing matters.

To retain top talent as the economy improves, executives will need to clearly identify, develop, involve, and recognize key people. Don’t hesitate to let these people know they are valued.