5 Ways to Retain Your Great Employees

The hot employment topic in 2012 is retention.  With available jobs in the banking industry at a premium, the best employees will be the most hotly recruited.  What are you doing to identify and retain your great employees.  This article identifies five ways you can make sure your best employees remain your best employees.  And here’s a hint: it’s not just about salary!

Remember how you felt when one of your best employees gave you notice?  That they were leaving for another bank?

That sinking feeling you had will be repeated a lot in 2012, for the hot topic in the talent management community is retention.  And your best employees – the high performers – are the most likely to leave.

The myth of the current economy is the unemployment rate.  Last month, the national unemployment rate was 8.3% (not seasonally adjusted).  However, for those with a college degree, the unemployment rate is only 4.2%.  (It’s 15% for people without a high school degree).

So we’re all in competition for the best, most educated employees.  And, with available jobs in the banking community at a premium, the competition for the best employees will be hotter than ever.

What are some quick steps you can do to begin retaining your best employees?

  1. Find out who they are. Each manager should be able to immediately identify who their top 2 or 3 performers are.  Those are the employees you want to target immediately for retention purposes.  Then there are “Hi-Po’s” – high potentials – those employees who are new to the bank, or new to their positions and have the potential of being a great employee in the next few years.

(By the way, if you have a manager who cannot immediately identify their top performers, hi-pos, or poorest performers, you need to have a separate discussion with that manager.  But that’s another article.)

  1. Find out what they want. You’ve heard of exit interviews; here’s the time to conduct stay   What is it you can provide to ensure your high performing employees will remain engaged, satisfied, and retained?  Don’t just focus on nationwide surveys of what employees want; this needs to be specific to that employee.  For example, there are substantial differences in desires among millenials than older employees.  And every bank as its own unique culture issues as well.  Take the time and talk to your high performers.
  1. It’s not just about compensation. Many bank officers make the fatal mistake of assuming a higher bonus or base salary will keep high performing employees happy.  But just throwing more money at them is not the solution.  The top two drivers of employee engagement are recognition and career development.  Offering a competitive compensation package is extremely important, but it’s only motivating to the extent that employees want to be compensated fairly for what they do.  What is your recognition program?  Have you conducted employee surveys to make sure it is a relevant, and motivating factor for employees?  And even if you’re a small financial institution, developing career paths for employees to grow with your bank is an essential component for a successful engagement and retention program.
  2. Communication. In every employee survey I’ve ever conducted, the top complaint among employees is communication; employee’s fee don’t receive enough feedback from their boss.  How easy this is to correct.  Managers should focus on immediate feedback – both positive and negative.  The days of waiting until the annual performance review are long gone.  Show me an engaged and motivated team and I’ll show you a leader who is a great communicator and understands the need for comprehensive, two-way communciation.
  3. Managers. Tied in to all of the above is your management team.  People – top employees – will leave because of a poor manager.  Whether they don’t get enough recognition or communication, or the bank processes retard excellence, or one of a million other reasons, managers are there to make sure these obstacles are overcome.  Make sure your managers meet individually with high performing employees to get an understanding of the employee’s desires career path. This will help managers identify employees’ professional development goals, create career advancement plans accordingly and monitor their progress.

Ultimately, whether you keep or lose your most valuable employees is the responsibility of each manager.  When a high performer leaves your bank, the costs in lost productivity and continuity; time to recruit, interview, hire & onboard a replacement; and ultimately get the new employee up to speed is significant.  While it may not be a managers fault that a high performer leaves, it is their responsibility.