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Why do good employees leave?

Why do good employees leave?

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Every company has their golden apples, but for many businesses these are the employees who are most likely to move on.

If you've got your recruitment process right, you should have some great employees within your organisation. People who are genuinely good at their jobs, are creative, hard working, forward thinking, flexible and ambitious

The need to succeed
'Ambitious' is the key word really here and it's up to you to ensure your best employees can achieve what they want within your company.

Dictionary.com describes ambition as:

“An earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honour, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.”

This gives you an excellent indication of what it is you need to do in order to portray your business as the best place for them to be.

  • Power – This can be translated as responsibility and if you want to ensure your best employees stay, you need to show them exactly how you see their progression through the business. Show them examples of people high up in your organisation who have risen from their position and be prepared to allow them to take on responsibilities outside the usual scope of their role.
  • Honour & Fame – On top of their regular reward for doing their job (their salary) it's always good to give regular praise to your top employees. Most ambitious people like to have their name up in lights and letting other people know how well they are doing (either internally via email, or via a press release to an industry magazine) should give them the necessary ego boost.
  • Wealth – This doesn't mean you should be throwing money at your good employees left, right and centre, but your best employees should be able to see exactly what they need to do to achieve it. Ambitious people are willing to work hard, but only if they can see the overall rewards. Would an Olympic sprinter put in thousands of hours of training if there was no gold medal at the end of it?

If you're unable to meet any of these needs, you're risking your best employees leaving for pastures new.

Fighting off the competition
Every company is after the best talent and good people become quickly recognised in the industry. There are various ways your best employees can become known:

  • CV databases – Even though they aren't actually looking for a new job, many people have their details on job sites to stay updated on the kind of jobs that are out there. Many companies have automated alerts set up that tell them when someone matches their skill set and they may be contacting your employees right now.
  • Recruitment agents – Effectively talent touts, if they get hold of a good CV they will instantly let their clients know that this individual is on that market.
  • Head-hunters – Scouring the business world to find out the movers and shakers that will help them earn big placement commissions. Being head hunted is a great ego boost for anyone and it's an experience that only the best employees go through.

The catch 22 is that the more you praise your employees and hold them up as a vital part of your company, the more they will become known and will be in the crosshairs of other businesses.

The ego has landed
When somebody knows they are good, there is potential for them to become too big for their own good and start taking their job, responsibilities, position and colleagues for granted.

Whilst praising your best employees, always steer their thoughts back to how much you have helped them reach where they are today. Ask them to help other employees reach the level of excellence that they have and show that that the best way to progress is to lead with dignity.

Jealousy is a terrible thing and it won't take long before people within your organisation start to resent the plaudits that are being heaped upon your good employees. It's important that you make all your employees feel included and an important part of the business. Portray your best employees as role-models, but not as deities.

The last thing you want to do is alienate large parts of your workforce. The only thing worse than your best employees leaving is everyone else walking out the door!

Discuss this issue on The Employer Forum.