Keeping your best employees
This is probably not the best way to keep your employees. Image: Elnur/Shutterstock

How do I stop my best employees from leaving?

7 Feb 2017

If you’re desperate to win the war on talent and keep your very best employees, here’s how you do it.

You’re always in danger of losing your best employees because the top talent will always have options. However, it’s not a foregone conclusion that you can’t do anything about.

One of the main reasons employees leave companies is management. The best employees are more likely to stay when they work for someone they feel is trustworthy.

How can you show yourself to be a good manager, one that your employees want to stick with? It’s not all about perks and flexitime – although those things will help.

Prioritise their growth

We’ve said it time and time again, mostly because it needs to be said: your best employees will look for new challenges, career progression and opportunities to upskill constantly.

You need to show your top talent that their progression is as important to you as it is to them. Schedule regular meetings with them to make sure they’re learning everything they can and growing as much as possible.

Your employees won’t be happy if they feel stuck in a rut. Most employees that move on do so because they’re looking for a new challenge, hence they’re less likely to move if they constantly feel challenged in their current role.

You should also give your employees feedback. The best employees are not looking for continuous praise or a gold star at the end of every day, but they do want constructive conversation regarding their careers. They don’t just want to know when they’re doing a good job, they want to know how they can improve too.

Don’t let mistakes darken their career

Mistakes can follow your best employees around like a poisonous fog. When it comes to their own mistakes, it’s important to let them move on from them.

Of course, there will be plenty of scope when it comes to how serious a mistake is, but these are your best employees we’re talking about. Chances are, no one is making them feel worse about it than themselves.

Make sure they know how to fix it, how to avoid it in future and most importantly, how to learn from it. Don’t let it cast a shadow on the rest of their performance.

Managers should also make sure they acknowledge their own mistakes before they criticise their employees.

Remembering the crux of the issue is still important here: employees leave managers, not companies.

Praise goes a long way

From the points above, it’s clear that retaining your best employees is about more than just praising their good work. However, they do still need that praise.

It’s important that they feel valued, and if they work extremely hard and never get any thanks for it, it’s hard for them to see what difference they’re making.

As a manager, it’s your job to recognise when your employees have improved their performance. Acknowledge the extra work they’ve put into a project and encourage them to keep going.

Find out what they want

Like we said, holding onto your top talent is about far more than perks and a pat on the back, but they are a definite plus.

Employees will stay far longer for a good manager than a good pay packet, but if time keeps moving on and their remuneration doesn’t get any better, they will eventually leave, even if they don’t want to.

The feedback should go both ways in this instance. Find out what your employees want and see how much you can give them to keep both sides of the table happy.

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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