Keeping Talented Employees: Know What They Want, and Know How to Provide it
Experienced managers and HR professionals are all familiar with a common scenario: An employee enters a position with promise, but little experience or relevant training. Often the employee is a recent college graduate or a person on the cusp of a career change. The employee learns very quickly, shows high ambition, seems to love the work, and begins to expand her capacity for responsibility. Within a year or two, she requests a raise, promotion or both. Whether the request is granted or not, the employee has disappeared by the end of the following year. Another company is now reaping the benefits of her costly training and initiation. And her talents, along with her expensive training, are gone for good. What went wrong? How can a company retain talented employees and make the most of an investment in human capital?
First, never underestimate the value of civility. For logistical or budget-related reasons, an employee’s request for a raise or promotion may be impossible to grant. But this doesn’t mean she has to leave the conversation feeling depressed, frustrated or undervalued. For good or bad, people often retain a less-than-perfect position for purely social reasons. This refrain is more common than many of us realize: “I could leave, and I know I could make more money elsewhere, but I stay because I like my boss and coworkers.”
Second, if you can’t grant a promotion or raise for a talented employee, investigate other incentives. Can you improve her benefits package? Can you offer her access to a training program or subsidize her education? Look into these options before you turn her away.
And finally, be observant and think ahead. If you see a rising talent in the office, anticipate her next move. Know that she may start looking for growth opportunities during the next year or two, and be ready to meet her needs so you can hold her interest.