3 Ways to Retain Your Top Employees

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Think about the people you manage on a regular basis. They might all be smart and relatively diligent, but there are probably at least a couple of superstars who stand out from the pack. Those are the people you really want to keep around for the long haul, since they'll not only help your team but will quite possibly boost your own career, as well.

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The problem, however, is that retaining good talent can be a challenge, especially when job-hopping is pretty much the norm these days. In fact, the average worker will hold 10 different jobs before reaching age 40, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additional research tells us that younger members of the workforce might have as many as 12 to 15 distinct jobs by the time they hit that age. If you have a number of key players on your team, here are a few ways to keep them on board.

1. Acknowledge strong performance

Even confident workers crave their fair share of praise. If you make a point to let your most valued employees know how much you appreciate their contributions and efforts, it'll give them the morale boost they need to keep at it. So don't be shy about highlighting your best workers' successes during performance reviews or sending emails as appropriate to express your gratitude and appreciation. Just as important, when doing so, be sure to get the details right. If your top salesperson hits 226 product subscriptions in a given month, and the previous record is 206, let him or her know you're aware of that.

Furthermore, while not everyone needs the limelight, it never hurts to acknowledge your best employees' accomplishments in public. If companywide town hall meetings are the norm at your place of business, ask to give a shout-out to the folks who have recently gone above and beyond. If you hold regularly scheduled team meetings, take the opportunity to award those who deserve a verbal pat on the back. Give your star performers a reason to feel good about themselves, and they'll be more likely to want to stay put.

2. Provide consistent feedback

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Workers don't like having a boss go dark on them, especially since a consistent lack of feedback can translate into long-term job-related insecurity. And that, in turn, can drive your most valued players to think about jumping ship. If your goal is to retain your strongest workers, make sure to provide steady feedback that not only recognizes their solid performance but also gives them additional goals to work toward.

If you don't tend to hold weekly meetings with your team, whether as a group or one-on-one, then at the very least schedule a quarterly review so that your employees get a better sense of where they stand. Another option is to set a calendar reminder to check in with your team members by email at least once a week, especially if some of them work remotely or you don't often to see them face-to-face. Finally, make yourself available for questions and concerns, even if you're not the one initiating that communication. The more support and attention your top performers get, the more inclined they'll be to stick around.

3. Reward strong employees -- and not just with money

More than half of working adults consider themselves unhappy on the job, and research tells us that a big part of that sentiment boils down to compensation, or lack thereof. It therefore stands to reason that if you go out of your way to ensure that your employees are appropriately paid, they'll be less likely to go off in search of more money. This means staying current on salary data and making sure your workers' titles accurately reflect the jobs they're actually doing.

But making good employees feel appreciated isn't just a matter of throwing money at them; it's also about sending a message that you and your company care about them as individuals. You might accomplish this by offering a generous benefits package that includes ample vacation time and heavily subsidized health insurance. Or you might reward your best workers by taking them out for the occasional thank-you lunch or giving them more leeway to leave early or adjust their schedules as needed.

Retaining talent is easier said than done, especially at a time when job-hopping is a perfectly acceptable practice. But if you're willing to make the effort, you'll reap the many benefits that come with keeping the employees you value the most.

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