Want to keep your rockstar employees?



Do you have certain employees or people on your team that are so valuable that it would be devastating if they left? If so, here are four ways to make sure your rockstar talent stays with your organization.


1. Money, money, money.
A recent study from the Hay Group and the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that there may be something of a salary “sweet spot” for employees. The report found that 79.5% of employees earning between $80,000 and $100,000 stayed at their company for at least two years. Anyone making below or above this range was reportedly 45% more inclined to leave. Even if you’re working to recruit a rockstar employee that is above or below the “sweet spot” range, make sure you know what the market rate is for their position and pay it. If you can afford to pay above market, do it. And if you’re really concerned about how long they might stay, offer a signing bonus. This insures they have to stay with you for a year, or risk having to pay back the signing bonus should they exit before their first anniversary.

When it comes to signing bonuses, it should be an amount that will actually make a difference in this person’s life, so it’s viewed as a real benefit, and could be slightly painful if they have to pay it back.

If you’re looking to use money or financial incentives to get a great employee to stay, it’s not always the most effective tool. If they’re looking for a greener pasture, it might stem from a cultural or ownership problem. They might want a culture that allows them to telecommute a couple of days a week, or they might feel like their ideas aren’t being heard. But the only way you’ll discover any of this is by talking to your rockstar. They usually won’t complain, and you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken.


2. Find a career path.
Your best employees want to grow within their careers. If they don’t come to work each day and feel challenged or that they’re contributing to the company/ society, their drive subsides a little each day. Which means, if you can’t find them a career path within your organization, someone else will. This isn’t meant to sound like you need to entertain them constantly like a small child, it just means that they are your high producing talent, and their level of challenge should be commensurate with their performance. If there isn’t something within their scope of influence or job description that drives them to want to come to work every day, their focus will wander toward finding an opportunity that will make them leap out of bed and race to work.


3.Abolish annual reviews.
Sorry managers, one review a year just doesn’t cut it with rockstars. Your best employees are not part of the estimated 70% of employees who are not engaged in their jobs. Your rockstars are pro-active and leading the charge toward bringing your company and team to new heights. This means, as a manager or leader you have to encourage open dialogue with regular “status updates” on how they think their role is going, where they want to go, and what they need to continue driving success. You might be saying, “But without the annual performance review, how will I assess their compensation and reward success?” You will have to initiate a conversation with HR or leadership to establish a policy that rewards your rockstar employees and breaks down the conventional tendencies toward a yearly raise. Look at their year as a body of work. Is it a quarterly review to assess compensation? Does it look more like a per project bonus? Every business is different, but you should be looking at how to keep your rockstars engaged with constant communication and be open to meaningful feedback.


4. Encourage professional growth.
Your best employees are keeping up with what is going on in your industry. They are the first ones to say, “Hey, there’s this conference in XYZ in March and I think it would be really valuable for me to attend because. ..” Let them attend. Discuss setting up an “education/ personal growth” fund for your best employees.  If your company does not already have a tuition reimbursement policy, look at developing one that encourages your employees to go back to school, get certified in relevant areas and emphasizes your commitment to their professional development. A team of employees that are more educated, more engaged and seeking professional improvement makes the difference between people wanting to come to work, or watching the clock and playing solitaire until the end of their work day.


If you implement even two out of the four suggestions we make here and your rockstars are still leaving you, make sure you do exit interviews to try to get to the center of the reason for their departure. And remember, just because your rockstars aren’t complaining about their work/life balance or lack of flexibility, it doesn’t mean they don’t want it. Talk to them, foster honest communication and you’ll get their attention along with some of their loyalty.