Breaking up is hard to do, and in business, when the breakup occurs with a key employee, it’s also very expensive – in both recruiting costs and lost opportunities.
Replacing a key employee can take months. Reviewing even the ‘best’ candidate often proves that there is no one who can just step in and hit the ground running. For these reasons, it’s valuable to understand a few main motives that cause key employees to leave and then take proactive steps to prevent those painful losses.
1. Lack of upward mobility. If your top employees recognize that the only way to move up is to move on, you have a problem. With communication and creativity, there may be ways to solve this problem. People often avoid change, but they do want variety.
2. Differences with management. Some issues are fixable; some are not. Be aware of how well your key employees are satisfied with your company’s management, culture, and environment. If problems fester, it may be too late to repair the situation.
3. Lack of appreciation. This is one of the top employee complaints and easily fixed.
4. Lack of flexibility. Just as companies change over time, your employee’s lives will change over time. They may want to relocate to a different part of the country or work from home. They may want to work part-time or flex-hours. The more that these changes can be accommodated, the higher the likelihood is for retaining them.
5. Money. Everyone wants more money, but unless the employee is underpaid, money is typically not a major factor in being dissatisfied with current employment. They may want more money, but it’s not usually their prime motivator to change employers. However, if you are proactively generous with your compensation package and pay a bit higher than the marketplace might offer your key employees, you make it more difficult for them to leave. ‘Golden Handcuffs’ can be very effective in retaining your top employees.