Retaining Your Best Performers: Are You Doing Enough to Keep Your Top Talent?

Your organizations top-tier talent contributes heavily to making your team a success. They’re also the employees who competitors covet and would be poached in a moment’s notice if the opportunity arose.


Retaining these top performers in today’s hiring frenzied environment isn’t easy. These professionals have options, and they know it. If they would decide to leave, replacing them — and their skills, experience and security industry knowledge — would be a challenge. But how can you stop them from leaving when they could get a better offer at any time? Start by finding out, and then remaining in touch with, how these key employees feel about their roles within your organization.


Implement these six steps to increase your firm’s chances of retaining top performers:


  1. Take the work pulse of your key players with an informal conversation

This is just what it sounds like: a regular (I suggest quarterly) conversation with key employees to let them know you value them, their contribution and encourage them to stay with your organization. It’s a time for them to discuss their level of enthusiasm for their work and, critically, any areas of frustration or dissatisfaction that you may be able to help them address. By hearing workers out, and acting on their feedback, you reinforce how important they are to your company — a crucial message that can never be over communicated.


Listen to how your employees feel about their career progression and whether their job is personally rewarding to them. But don’t force the issue. Just make them feel comfortable enough to bring these topics up themselves. Once you have their input, take it to heart. Whenever possible, find ways to accommodate their hot-button issues. Following through shows you take their career satisfaction seriously.


  1. Make sure your team earns competitive compensation

When people decide to search for a new job, compensation is often a motivating factor. Likewise, it’s a reason to stay in a job. In a recent Robert Half survey, 43% of workers said more money was the one thing that would convince them to stay in their current role.


To offer competitive compensation, compare salaries you’re paying your top people to those listed in various online comparative salary resources. Make sure you are including all the variables (including geography) which will offer greater accuracy.


  1. Provide a work environment and culture top performers will find hard to leave

Money is important, but it isn’t everything. Organizational culture can play a huge part in whether your superstars enjoy their roles. In fact, 35% of 1,000 U.S. workers in a recent survey said they would turn down an employment offer if the role was a perfect fit, but the company culture wasn’t.


When asked to describe their ideal organizational culture, workers interviewed for the same survey said they preferred environments that were supportive, team-oriented and innovative. If those attributes don’t describe your workplace, you may want to prioritize making improvements to your company’s culture. Otherwise, retaining top performers will only be that much more difficult.


  1. Let top-tier talent create schedules that offer them flexibility

Most professionals in today’s workplace put a premium on their ability to maintain work-life balance. And like many employers, you probably offer some type of flexible or alternative work arrangements. But consider this question: Can your best players take advantage of those opportunities on their terms — or do they need to align with yours?


Inviting employees to propose their own work arrangements can be a powerful retention tool. Let star players set their work hours to show you trust them to get the job done. They’ll appreciate the flexibility and the fact that you’re not asking them to sacrifice their personal lives to conform to a one-size-fits-all schedule. You may also find they are even more productive — and may inspire others on your team to work harder, too, so they can earn the privilege of more flexibility around their schedule.


  1. Inspire your best team members by helping them visualize their future

One key to retaining top performers is recognizing that these professionals are challenge driven and ambitious. If they think their careers are on a road to nowhere, you can count on them hitting online job boards soon. One strategy to prevent this from happening is including your highest-level performers in your succession plan, as well as working with them to create a road map for acquiring the hard and soft skills along with the experience they’ll need to advance.


There’s more to career stagnation than not seeing a path to a promotion. Bright professionals crave stimulating work and their eyes will wander when they’re bored. Talk to your stars about their career paths, asking which projects they’re most interested in pursuing. But don’t stop there. Help them develop the security and leadership expertise needed to tackle new areas by offering them job rotation opportunities, cross-training or mentorships where possible. The result is a win-win: Satisfied team members with broader skill sets.


  1. Don’t expect perfection from your best

You can’t expect your best people to be perfect or carry the entire workload. And they may be closer than you think to becoming overloaded: According to a recent Tripwire survey, 83% of security professionals feel more overworked going into 2020 than they were at the beginning of 2019, and 82% said their teams were understaffed.


When workloads rise, consider engaging interim professionals/consultants who can provide support to your leading contributors — and all your core team. These professionals can also be brought in for short-term but critical projects that require time and specialized expertise your existing staff may not have. It is a strategy many leading employers are turning to.


Retaining top performers is an ongoing challenge for many organizations and businesses today. Consider taking these steps to ensure your valued employees truly feel valued, and you will be well-positioned to maintain a deep bench of in-demand talent that will help your organization succeed — and your competitors will envy.

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