Tight labor markets and New Year’s resolutions can spell trouble for organizations that are not focused on their human capital.  Retaining high performing employees is a critical component to achieving success.  As every “new hire” is carefully and meticulously interviewed and screened prior to onboarding, so should careful and proactive measures be customary to reduce turnover and ensure “high performing” employees are retained.  Organizations which desire to keep their best and brightest recognize the importance of a focused retention strategy.  Successful organizations understand that retention is a dynamic process which requires attention.  In an environment where substantial evidence proves employees are changing jobs more frequently and competition for talent is fierce, organizations have to review their retention strategies/policies (or build them if necessary) and immediately begin the process of implementing this crucial success factor.

To build on our specialty field in the area of Human Capital Strategy and Retention, WLH Consulting, Inc. (“WLH”) recently conducted a study to evaluate factors contributing to high-performing women leaving an organization.  The study findings won special recognition at last year’s Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA).  The foundation of the study, WLH’s Rx for Retention Predictor Model, examined the leading factors resulting in those who leave an organization as influenced by the following relationship levels:  organizational, manager – employee, and individual.  One key finding included the fact that, issues at the manager – employee relationship level continue  to be the primary reason an employee leaves an organization.

In 2018, time is of the essence for Organizational and HR leadership to take a critical look at their overall human capital strategy and specifically review their employee development and retention practices.  The work to be done extends beyond assessing organizational proactive policies that support career advancement and work-life balance.  Organizations need to validate that the corporate culture actually supports stated values and if there are real disconnects in practices and employee experiences.

For true success, managers and employees also need self-reflection.  Organizations should be encouraging and supporting managers in these efforts and managers need to accept that most employees do not leave their organization but rather, they leave their “boss.”

As a direct manager, this might be the time to invest in better understanding and supporting your employee'(s) personal and career goals.  A powerful starting point is a one-on-one session to:

  • Express your commitment to his/her talent development and success
  • Identify development and career advancement goals
  • Link development activities to business priorities
  • Check in to see if your employee needs support with work-life-balance
  • Let employees and others know your willingness to support their career goals
  • Help high performers find mentors or leaders to sponsor them for accelerated talent development opportunities

As an employee, setting goals for the year starts with a commitment to personal development and making a contribution to an organization’s success.  It is crucial to leverage internal opportunities for learning and development.  Step forward and ask for help, mentorship, and sponsorship.  Participate in stretch assignments where skills can be developed and where there is an opportunity for cross-functional and leadership exposure.  Remember “the grass may not be greener” elsewhere, so stay open to having a candid and honest conversation with your own leadership.

The retention of high-performing talent cannot be left to chance.  This is crucial to success because of the direct and indirect costs associated with turnover.  Studies show that the cost to replace a high-level employee could exceed 400% of an employee’s annual salary and may take up to 9-18 months. An active strategy (including training managers) to translate organizational practices, provide meaningful coaching, and identify retention risk employees is needed.

WLH Consulting, Inc. can provide consulting services to help with the retention of high-level employees and create a plan that addresses organizational, manager and employee relationships, and individual factors within your organization.

Please feel free to contact us for more information on our Rx for Retention solutions and how our consulting services can help your organization.

Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, animal health medicines, and consumer products, as well as international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.

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