How to retain key employees for your organization

Companies and organizations around the world feel a rankling question: how to retain the key employees? The human resource department is always on its toes as to provide the best working environment that could make the employees stay with the company. Without doubt, reduction in attrition rate is one of the primary-focus areas of HR department. While lots of people think that acquiring the best industry experience is important, it is critical not to overlook the importance of retaining this experience within an organization. Strategic implementation of management techniques needs to be applied and there is some principles that a company should adopt in its approach to make sure that it does not lose its key employees.

How to retain key employees

Who are key employees?

Let’s understand it from the game of Cricket. In the team, you have batsmen, bowlers and fielders. However, there are some key positions in all the orders and team members have to make sure that they fulfill those positions effectively. Let’s consider batting: there are openers, one-down, two-down positions that have to be filled by competent people who can handle the situational demands of any match at those positions. In bowling department, there are opening attackers, spinners, and containers. All the bowlers have to fulfill the positions accordingly. In the fielding department, you have a wicketkeeper: One of the most important key position in the whole environment of Cricket. Then you have slip fielders, gully/fine-leg, point and outfielders who are fast and good catchers.

All these positions are key positions. So, to answer the question, who are key employees, we can assume that members or a team or organization that have some critical roles to play specializing in those positions could be termed as key employees. If the replacement of such employees is hard, they can be termed as key employees. Suppose a slip fielder who got injured. It is highly unlikely that a spare player will stand in slips, because that position requires specialized expertise and good reflexes.

How to retain key employees?

Retaining key employees is one of the most important tasks that the HR department has to play. During economic slowdown or financial crunch, companies do have to let employees go but at the same time, many of them pay retention bonuses to make sure that they don’t lose their key employees.

Dethra GilesDethra U. Giles, MBA, MSCM,SPHR, RCC from the US opines:It is an issue that is very relevant especially in the US. The US is poised to see an extreme labor shortage in about 5 years. In about 5 years the baby boomers will leave the workforce and leave us with a labor shortage the likes of which we have not seen before. Because of this it is vitally important that we begin to focus on retention but not just retention for the sake of having warm bodies in positions but retention for the sake of efficiency and effectiveness. I will tell you that I use key employees and top performers interchangeably because I believe that wise and progressive organization makes sure they have top performers in key positions. So, where does retaining top employees start? It starts before you ever begin to look for top talent. It starts with the job descriptions. Everyday, I see managers get great people into poor defined jobs. This is a death wish for a retention plan especially when that plan focuses on retaining top performers. Top performers are motivated by doing a good job. Therefore, a well written job descriptions and clearly communicated expectations are a must. Since most top performers have a high internal locust of control they need to be able to measure their own achievement in order to get gratification. In the absence of this they do not have a sense of achievement and likely will not stay.

The next step is having managers who are able to identify what a key employee is and who they are in the organization. Key performers don’t always need a pat on the back, a lot of money, a party, etc. but they do need to know that you recognize their potential and their value to the organization. I often conduct exit interviews and there have been times when a person who I knew was a top performer was exiting and I asked them “Why are you leaving?” There response was “Because I had no future here.” The issue is their manager did not identify and communicate to them that they were a top performer, a key player and that there was a future for them in the organization.├é┬áManagers have to know who these people are, develop them and communicate the plan. But first there must be a plan.

Another step in retaining top performers/key employees is having a well-defined and executed succession plan. Key employees want to be developed and want to know that the development has real potential to result in an expected end, i.e. a promotion to a more challenging and impactful position.

Some pointers that can help retain key employees:

  1. Diversifying options and opportunities within the organization
  2. Creating space and opportunities for learning
  3. Values and ethics within the organization
  4. Quality in supervision and management
  5. Effective communication flow from top-to-bottom and vice-versa.
Jeremy LittleJeremy Little, HR professional from Greater Detroit Are opines:Q1. Who are key employees for an organization?

Key employees are those individuals that drive business and increase the bottom line. The ones that keep the doors open. Without these people sales slow, cash dries up, customer service plummets, and people don’t perform. It is the top talent in each area and it can differ from company to company. They aren’t necessarily those in your C-suite, but the ones who empower others to stay motivated and productive. A key employee isn’t always the one with the greatest responsibility or the most authority; it might just be one who is hard to replace.

Q2. What value key employees bring to an organization?

Key employees bring the ability to drive sales, motivate and lead people, increase productivity and quality while reducing costs. The key employee will understand and support the company’s value and mission and will see to empower those around them to do the same.

Q3. How to retain these key employees?

The key to retaining these employee’s starts in the company have high values and ethics. These need to be evident from the very top of the organization. Next you should be getting the right people into the organization through a solid recruiting and hiring process. These people should share and support the values of the company. Finally, keeping key employees doesn’t necessarily mean throwing money at them, but perhaps providing opportunities for them to learn and grow, giving them autonomy and simply telling them they are valued and why. A good Human Resources professional will be able to help align the company’s goals with those of its employees and recruits.

Overall, retaining key employees serves towards the goals of any organization. If a team wants to win, it needs to instill faith and confidence in its members and let them grow in their own expertise so that they can contribute together for the cause of the organization.

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