Leadership and career

To Retain Your Top Employees, Do These 4 Things Right Now

By December 15, 2015 No Comments

What’s the use of constructing a top-notch team if your next construction project involves installing a revolving door on your company? I’m referring to the cycle of hiring – and then losing – top people.

Watching a rock star employee walk out the door is heart breaking and (let’s admit it) it’s also expensive. And sadly, the cycle is perpetual. There’s endless demand for talent in key roles in high-growth companies, so restless churning is a reality you must contend with.

But can you at least slow the bleeding? As a recruiter who regularly talks to execs about pursuing new opportunities, I know what tends to convince them to stay put.

Here’s some wisdom from the trenches:

Pay them what they’re worth

A salary is the intersection between what you’re willing to pay and what they’re willing to accept – at the moment you hired them. Does that number still reflect market value? Does it reflect the value of the person in question? People are more likely to leave for a better offer than to speak up and ask for a raise. Pay your employees what they’re worth. It’s a sign of respect. Fail to do it, and your best people will get frustrated and leave for a better offer. It’s that simple.

Pay attention

When someone’s interviewing with other companies, they throw off signs. They may request more time off.  They take their cell phone out on the sidewalk.  You might even detect signs of it on their social media accounts if you’re connected.  A “watch and wait” attitude won’t serve you well here.  Don’t think that you can counter-offer or convince them to stay once they come to you with an offer in hand. By then your relationship is damaged and it’s probably too late.  Instead, intervene as soon as you see the signs. If you can fix whatever is at issue, you might inspire this employee’s loyalty and thereby keep him or her.

Put them on a path

Career paths work like this: (1) join a company, (2) learn a bunch of new stuff, (3) get really good at the stuff, then (3) leave and start the process over at a new company. While it might lead to an eventual defection, remember that learning and growing are good things.  If you help your people do it, you’re demonstrating your commitment to them.  Fail to help talented people reach their goals, and they will stagnate and become unhappy.

Talk to them. Regularly.

An annual review is not going to make a dent in your turnover rate. You need to be having face-time far more regularly than that to determine whether your people are happy, fulfilled, frustrated or stalled. Ask good questions and listen – really listen – to the answers.


You take hiring seriously, so treat retention just as seriously. What are you doing at your firm to hang on to your top performers?


Maurice GilbertMaurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.  Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at maurice@conselium.com or maurice@corporatecomplianceinsights.com.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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