WHILE losing a star performer seems part and parcel of running a business, there are initiatives that a business can implement to minimise the likelihood of future star performers leaving for similar reasons.

Development programme

In today’s business climate, the most effective development programme is that which operates as an interactive process, where the manager and employee work together closely to identify skill gaps that must be filled.

This will satisfy the professional interests of the employee, and develop the competencies that will be needed to ensure the success of both the employee and the business. In addition, this process will help to make the employee feel valued by his senior managers and the organisation.

Companies that use development effectively as a retention tool recognise that people learn in different ways, so they offer a variety of learning programmes and growth opportunities. These may include classroom-based instruction, self-paced computer-based training or even coaching at more senior levels.

This kind of commitment to career management not only ensures that your employees develop the right competencies, but also sends a strong message to high performers that you want them to stay and are committed to their success.

Motivation and compensation

All too often, when companies design their reward systems, they end up relying on the approaches that are most familiar, such as financial incentives.

While financial incentives can sometimes work to improve performance, their value as a retention tool has diminished in recent years. The reason: In today’s marketplace, there are too many companies willing to match the financial offerings of their competitors to recruit top talent.

Mounting evidence suggests that, while companies should certainly strive to remain competitive in the pay and benefits they offer, it may not be wise to focus primarily on money when designing a retention strategy.

Potential candidates are becoming increasingly more selective with their job requirements. A competitive pay packet is not enough on its own to lure in the high performers who are in a position to be fussy and who are seeking more from their jobs.

With high performers, in particular, non-financial incentives — especially those that promote feelings of achievement, ownership and involvement or provide more meaningful work — can be far more critical to retention.

This is being seen across the demographic of the workforce, from Generation Y to the baby boomers.

High performers look for increased responsibility and challenge. They tend to participate more than other employees and they offer more suggestions for improvement.

Enlisting a high performer as a key problem-solver can help strengthen his feelings of engagement and enhance his self-image as a stakeholder.

As with any business strategy, your retention strategies will only be successful if executed with a focused approach and with buy-in and support from all levels.

Adopting a strategic approach to retention can produce benefits for your business that go beyond meeting the immediate need to reduce turnover.

It must be remembered, however, that even when companies hire top talent, give them plenty of opportunities to develop and reward them appropriately, there is still likely to be some turnover.

It is unrealistic not to expect a turnover. Remember, a certain amount of turnover is healthy as it brings in new, fresh talent. The upside is that the “alumni” of these companies may provide new business or referrals, and may even return after gaining valuable experience elsewhere.