How to Retain Top Talent

Retention programs are as diverse as the businesses that implement them, but an ideal retention strategy is comprised of three key elements.

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Anyone who has ever participated in hiring a new employee knows how challenging it is to find top talent. Writing and posting job descriptions, reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates, processing background checks, negotiating offers—it’s enough to boggle anyone’s mind. Then, at last, a top-notch employee is identified, hired, and trained. Now a new, ongoing challenge presents itself—how does the candidate remain happily engaged within the organization?

Retention programs are as diverse as the businesses that implement them, but an ideal retention strategy is comprised of three key elements: managers who value their employees, customized employee recognition, and opportunities for new challenges. 

Valued employees

It is a well-known fact that employees rarely leave companies; rather, they leave their managers. Companies with strong retention programs understand the importance of training their management in becoming leaders who value and respect their teams. Managers need to have a genuine interest in both the professional and personal well-being of their employees. Employees who feel their manager has their best interests at heart will be exponentially more likely to express loyalty to the company, dedicate themselves to excellence in their work product, and treat others with the same respect and concern.

Recognition programs

Each employee within an organization has his or her own unique motivations to come to work each day. Recognition programs should be designed with special consideration of these individual motivations and then customized accordingly. An employee with a family may appreciate being recognized with additional time off, while an employee who prefers casual attire over a business suit may appreciate an opportunity to wear jeans on Fridays. Some employees are motivated by peer recognition and would be delighted to receive awards in front of their co-workers, while others would cringe at the thought of public praise and would prefer more private forms of recognition, such as handwritten thank-you cards. The key is to know what motivates an individual employee and then recognize him or her in a way that is personally meaningful.

New challenges and growth

Talented people typically enjoy challenges and view them as opportunities to reach higher levels of achievement—giving them increased confidence and job satisfaction. Offering employees new challenges should not be mistaken for offering advancement or promotion. A simple opportunity to learn something new, participate in a new project, or help someone else grow in his or her position can be enough to provide a renewed sense of purpose and a break from the norm. Similar to recognition, offering opportunities for increased challenges should be customized to the individual. What one employee may consider an exciting new challenge may be old hat to another.

Retaining top talent is more of an art than a science. At the end of the day, it is about meeting the needs of your employees on both professional and personal levels. Employees whose needs are not being met will inevitably seek out organizations that better fulfill them. And how do we know what these needs are? We build relationships with our employees based on open lines of communication and mutual respect and then —we ask!

Published In

ReThinking Laboratory Safety Magazine Issue Cover
ReThinking Laboratory Safety

Published: June 1, 2009

Cover Story

Lab Safety Revisited

This month's cover story invites you to take a walk through your lab and look at everything as though seeing it for the first time, through unbiased eyes. Is there unnecessary clutter? Have your labcoats outlived their usefulness? What is the condition of your lab's extension cords? This simple exercise can help you develop a keener eye towards lab safety.