News and Insights / Employer Insights

How to Keep Your Top Performers

Employee and manager shaking hands

What you need to do to hang on to your top talent


Here’s a scenario that’s all too familiar with employers: an employee gets passed over for a promotion. Disappointed and disenchanted, they decide to leave the company. Once they put in their two weeks’ notice, the company scrambles to make something happen for the employee – but by that point, it’s too late. The employee is already checked out.

This is a story everyone has either heard or experienced first-hand. It’s easy to jump ship and find a job that pays more, especially for people in hot fields. Let’s take tech, for example: a software developer moving to a new company can easily make $20,000 more in the process - pandemic or not.

In order to combat this phenomenon, companies must be proactive instead of reactive. They must show employees just how valued they are – and luckily, there are many ways to do that.

Pay your employees well

Employee and manager walkingThe single best way to keep your top performers is to pay them as much as you can. If an employee is absolutely blowing away their quarterly goals, don’t make them wait a year until you reward them. Be proactive and show them appreciation by providing them with a raise, or if impossible, a bonus. An extra bit of unexpected money is the best possible way to make an employee happy.

Don’t wait until they give you notice to offer a promotion

By that point, it’s already too late. This is another area where you need to be proactive. When your employee starts showing initiative and taking on additional responsibilities, including even potentially training newcomers, you should consider giving them a promotion – a new title and the corresponding pay raise. Don’t wait until your company’s regular review / promotion schedule, if you can avoid it at all. Do it now, while they’re happy.

Don’t limit how many promotions you can give

Oftentimes, companies will limit the number of promotions they can give out to a certain department – ie, one lead. But it doesn’t need to be like that. If you have a large enough department that can warrant it, why not split it in two so you can have two team leads? Or an alternate title that is clearly a promotion?

Artificially putting limits on the number of promotions you give out can create dissent and unhappiness amongst employees – imagine knowing you’d have to wait (potentially years) for someone to leave before having the opportunity to compete for a promotion. You’d probably leave too! Room for advancement is a hugely important piece of the puzzle for workers.

Tell them how much you appreciate them and how valued they are

Employee and manager meetingMake sure you tell your employees how amazing they are. Make their contributions known to the rest of the team – yes, publicly praise your employees.

A recent study revealed 66% of employees would quit if they felt unappreciated. In fact, along with proper compensation and doing something meaningful, feeling appreciated is a big reason employees stay where they are.

A good way to show appreciation, along with public praise, is to challenge your employees. Entrust them with more responsibilities, offer them opportunities to work on creative projects, listen to ideas and try to implement them – make them aware that they are needed and valued.

Don’t let a bad manager make them quit

If you see a particular team is plagued with high turnover, be mindful of the team’s manager. Take your personal feelings aside. You may like the manager, but if everyone hates working under them, that’s something you need to urgently address – especially since 75% of workers quit their job because of a bad manager, not because of the job itself.

Look out for toxic behaviors. Pay attention to how the manager speaks to their juniors and how they address issues. Do they publicly shame workers for mistakes? Talk down to them? Do they micromanage?

Perhaps most importantly, ask the juniors for feedback on the manager’s performance and behaviors. Be receptive to their feedback, and if you see trends in their responses, take it for what it must be: the truth. And then act on it.

Proactive, not reactive

All in all, when it comes to keeping employees at your company, it all boils down to being proactive and showing employees just how valued they are. Valued employees are happy employees – so if you’re seeing turnover issues, look at your company’s policies on compensation and promotions. And if the employee is worth it, act – don’t react!


About System One

System One delivers specialized workforce solutions and integrated services. We help clients get work done more efficiently and economically, without compromising quality. For more than 40 years, we’ve built our reputation on exceptional talent, flexible delivery, and full accountability. System One’s national network spans energy, engineering, IT, commercial, scientific & clinical, legal, marketing, and beyond. System One is based in Pittsburgh, PA.

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