How to love the one you’re with: Hold on to your best employees in an uncertain economy

Oct, 7 – BY SHALINI GONSALVES – Let’s face it. Nobody knows what’s going on with the economy. Least of all, it appears, the economists.

When the GFC first loomed, most employees’ first instinct was to hold on tight to their employers and seek the comfort and safety of the familiar.

But this has gone on for long enough, and they’re starting to wonder if the relationship is going anywhere – mainly because so many employers here responded by freezing senior management salaries, benefits and training budgets, and have been very slow to thaw these out.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Many of Australia’s best high-performing employees have spent the past two years watching their careers in a holding pattern while propping up your company’s bottom-line. They are no longer as engaged as they once were, because many employers stopped talking long-term strategy and focused on short term shareholder-boosting activities.

These employees have had the time to think about what they’d rather be doing; what they thought they would be doing at this point of their careers. And many of them may be about to make a move.

These high-performers are already your company’s best ambassadors. You need them to stay aligned with your business and engaged in your progress.

You need to woo them back into your affections.

You need to identify the employees you don’t want to see walk out the door into someone else’s arms. They are usually the ones who are switched on to your business needs and operating environment, understand your customers and are strong respected leaders and influencers.

You need to bring them off the dance-floor and up on to the balcony – so together you can look down and check the rhythm of your company.

There are three key things you can do to re-engage with your high performers.

  1. Make the time to talk: Give them exclusive face-to-face time with senior executive leadership, especially the C-Suite. Interpersonal and leadership communication is a tried and tested channel to engage with employees. Show your high-performers where the business is headed and ask for their views and feedback. Frankly and openly discuss the balance sheet and seek their solutions. Show them your vision of next year’s organisation chart with their name one box up from where they are now and talk about how you’re going to help them get there. Or better still, ask them to craft your vision and then communicate it to their teams.
  2. Tease them with flowers: If you have a high-profile project, let them run it, and support them adequately. Not only does it give your project the best chance of success, it’s an opportunity to re-engage with your high-performing employees, re-harness their energy and allow them to re-gain the spotlight.
  3. And a box of chocolates is always a winner: While remuneration is always attractive, a carefully selected suite of training and professional coaching programs (like leadership communication, stakeholder management and messenger training) will always be welcome.

Show your high-potential employees the love, and you’ll have an engaged team who’ll stay with you, say great things about your brand and strive for your business success. You can’t ask for more in an uncertain world, can you?