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How To Keep Top Performers From Quitting: 5 Tips For Senior Managers

“People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses.” – Unknown

It’s every manager’s worst nightmare; one by one, your top performers start handing in their notices. As they start dropping like flies, you’re scrabbling around to secure their replacements and deal with the fallout. When good employees leave, productivity and motivation grind to a halt; and recruitment and onboarding incurs significant costs. What’s more, high employee turnover looks bad to job seekers and they may be less inclined to apply to work for your organisation.

With all of these thoughts and concerns racing through your head, you may also wonder why your top performers are leaving your organisation. You need to understand why top talent are leaving before you race to increase employee retention.

Why do top performers quit their jobs?

  • They don’t feel recognised, appreciated or valued.
  • They’re fed up of being micromanaged.
  • They don’t feel like their development or progression is a priority.
  • They’ve found a job with a higher salary.
  • There’s an emotional disconnect between employees and managers.
  • They don’t feel loyalty towards the organisation.
  • They feel like they don’t have a purpose.

There are endless reasons as to why top performers might want to quit; some may involve you personally, and others might not. Nonetheless, if there appears to be a high employee turnover or a pattern amongst resignations, it’s time to take action.

How can you prevent top performers from quitting?

1. Implement an employee engagement survey

The best way to determine whether your employees are engaged and satisfied is to create an ongoing employee engagement survey. This can be distributed to your employees to complete with the reassurance that their answers will remain anonymous. It will give you a better understanding of whether your employees enjoy their jobs, feel like they’re fairly compensated and if they are able to perform to the best of their abilities. From the results, you can then produce a strategy to improve employee engagement and satisfaction. The fact of the matter is, engaged employees are 59% less likely to seek out a new job or career in the next 12 months.

2. Give more praise and recognition

Human beings like to be admired and appreciated for their efforts. Receiving praise from their superior motivates employees to continue working hard in order to receive more approval in the future. Many employees end up quitting their jobs due to a lack of appreciation. When they don’t believe they’re recognised for their wins and contribution, this leaves them feeling deflated and dissatisfied. Make it a conscious effort to give more generous praise to your employees for a job well done.

3. Seek input and ideas

Get your employees involved in important decision making so that they feel heard and their ideas valued. Although you’re their manager, it doesn’t have to be just you calling all the shots. Great leaders acknowledge they don’t know everything and rely on the unique strengths of their team. By allowing your team to voice their ideas and perspectives, it may lead to more unique and efficient solutions.

4. Give feedback consistently

A single annual performance review each year isn’t going to cut it. You need to be giving feedback consistently – think monthly and quarterly, or even more frequently. People like to feel heard, valued and know what they’re doing well. Growth and development is an ongoing process. Your top performers want to have more than one 1:1 with you a year to prevent their personal development from becoming stagnant. If you don’t continually develop your staff they will pursue career advancement elsewhere.

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5. Be attentive

Leadership doesn’t just involve delegation and providing guidance, it’s equally as about supporting your staff, whether that’s in the workplace or outside of it. Any good leader knows that providing a shoulder to lean on is part of the job. 92% of employees said that they’d be more willing to stay in their job if their bosses showed more empathy. Prioritise their wellbeing; check-in with them regularly to identify how they’re doing mentally. People appreciate managers that care and this fosters long-lasting relationships and loyalty. The more you know about your team, the better you’ll be at holding a conversation and forging a mutually respective connection.

6. Communicate openly and be available

Facilitate an open atmosphere in which employees can raise their concerns and ideas. An open atmosphere helps your team to feel more confident in expressing their ideas and collaborating with others. Ask your employees for improvements or suggestions into how you can make the operations run more smoothly. Let your employees know that you are reachable and open to hearing from them at any time of the workday. Prioritise and nurture the relationships you have with your employees to build trust.

7. Prioritise progression and development

Training and development might not have been something you prioritised previously, but now is the time to change that. When ambitious talent joins your organisation, they want to know that they can count on you to help them progress their careers and move up the ranks. By arranging a meeting with them, you can discuss their career aspirations and work together to develop a plan of action. Training could involve you mentoring them, or even hiring an external training provider to teach them new skills.

8. Implement incentives

Does your organisation have a bonus scheme? Do you distribute an annual bonus to all of your employees? It sounds harsh, but not every staff member puts in the same amount of effort. With an annual bonus scheme in place that rewards those who don’t contribute much, your top performers may feel sidelined and frustrated. Instead, why not think about giving your star performers a raise in their bonus? Distinguishing and rewarding performance based on salary will help to establish a satisfied and motivated team.


For more hiring advice tailored to hiring managers in the life science industry…

* Fraser Dove International is a talent consultancy operating exclusively across the life sciences industry. While our roots lie in executive search, we provide more than the traditional recruitment services. Uniquely placed within the market, we have been providing cutting-edge talent solutions and insight to organisations at all stages of their journey – from start-up to established leaders – since 2013.

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