3 tips for retaining your superstar employees


You’re a recognised leader in your organisation.  You love your work and the projects you’re given. Continually put forward for more training, placed on great projects, but your manager isn’t putting you forward for internal roles – you’re missing these opportunities. Maybe the CEOs and C-Suite changes so company culture shifts.  Or budgets are stretched, resulting in education and training being stripped back. Do they even care about employee retention?

You get frustrated. You don’t want to talk to your Manager in case it causes a conflict. Then, you start exploring other options and see that you can get better pay and a better title elsewhere. Next, you interview; sign the contract. Inform your employer that you’re leaving.

Is this happening in your teams? (hint, yes it is) 12% of organisational superstars are actively seeking new opportunities (Corporate Executive Board, 2009).

Now is the time to put in place practices to support employee retention. Your teams, your people are a tremendous asset, especially in the rise of technology, and increased access to information.  This isn’t a nice thing to do. Not having this in place does become costly.

These are the people who inspire others to go beyond the status quo.  They set a positive atmosphere around them, and everyone aspires to be part of their team.  These people think outside the box, and find new ways of lowering costs, increasing productivity, and set the standards for ongoing success.  They thrive when they mentor others.

Don’t get lulled into a false sense of security, and think they’ll stay with you forever. Their engagement is slipping.  Now is the time to put in strategies to keep them with you for longer. Don’t leave it until it’s too late!

employee turn over

You need to try!

Employee turn over is expensive.  One lost employee can cost you $5,000-$20,000 in direct costs (offboarding, hiring, training, onboarding) and a lot more in indirect costs (higher error rates, unfixed positions, impact on company culture).  In some cases, this can cost you over 30% of their annual salary (https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/CostofTurnover.pdf).

You might think, well we can’t compete with those large tech companies. But, Google, Amazon, Twitter, and Apple have issues with keeping staff too. Their average employees stay less than two years (The Top Talent of Tech Disruptors and Titans, 2017 – https://www.paysa.com/blog/the-top-talent-of-tech-disruptors-and-titans/).

If employers of choice are struggling with this, can you get it right?  By recognising and owning this issue, you will be a step above the rest.

While you’ll never stop all of you superstars from leaving – it’s worth trying!  They are your top performers – they thrive when they are challenged, inspired, and see their work making an impact. What can you do today?

TIP #1:  Assess

Find ways to identify talent that may be hiding in the dark. There is so much goodness hiding away in our workplaces. Ensuring you have the frameworks and tools that recognise current and emerging talent is vital in nurturing grand succession plans. This can be done through regular Performance Reviews to identify those that are engaged, inspired, and skilled. Not only are you identifying current and emerging superstars, but you’re also setting benchmarks for the future!


TIP #2:  Share the Good

Building company culture through good is a great way to engage staff.  Not only are you implementing programs for those that deserve it (aka your superstars), but you’re showing emerging talent and high potentials that good things happen to those that deserve them. In turn, this delivers a company culture that empowers your workers to engage in challenges – as they know they’ll be rewarded should they be successful (Corporate Executive Board, 2009).


TIP #3:  Ask them

employee retention

You’ve got them in the room at their performance review, and they are ticking all the right boxes … you have the opportunity to ask them what they want!

  • What are their professional goals?
  • How do they see the organisation supporting them to achieve this?
  • How have they been recognised in the past, and how can you do this better?


TIP #4:  Cast it around

Nurturing and supporting Superstars isn’t only the job of a direct line manager. This shifts the Managers into the realms of being ‘gatekeepers’. With 63% of Millennials feeling their leadership skills are underdeveloped (PwC NextGen Study, 2013) getting senior executives to step in, nurture our talent, and engage them in projects that challenge and recognise their skills will not only expand your superstars thinking, but they’ll appreciate the time dedicated by those senior leaders.

Not only does this expand their knowledge of future roles, but it also helps provide ongoing opportunities for coaching, feedback, recognition PLUS your superstars will see the complexity of business, identify goals and pathways forward in your organisation’s future. Great for employee retention!

TIP #5:  Clear the way

employee retention

Talent want to know what the future holds. The time they’ve invested and spent in growing your business – will it be rewarded with a career?

Helping your superstars recognise the pathways in your organisations, both current and future, can provide exceptional clarity. Is that a role they want to take on? What further skills and networks do they need to develop, so they’re prepared for this future?

Talking about the aspirations your company has for their future is a brilliant way to keep them engaged and excited what’s coming next.


TIP#6:  Sometimes there’s no stopping them

employee retention
A great opportunity arises, and your superstar is poached. It happens. Maybe a family or health issue arises, and they have to leave. The tips above show that investing in just one superstar won’t get you far. It’s cultivating a culture that breeds more and more talent. The better we all get at building identifying your leaders, and asking them how they want to succeed – the greater our potential to have a company that thrives.

Armed with this knowledge your superstars can find options, pathways, projects (and more) to gain the skills to tackle our future challenges. This not only increases engagement, but reduces attrition, hiring costs, and builds a culture that benefits us all. Employee retention is key!


This blog was put together by collaborating with the wonderful Samantha Bowen the Managing Director @ Acorn Network.



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