14 Ways to Retain Top Employees, Keep Them Happy, Engaged, and Eager to Stay

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Finding and hiring top talent is one thing, but keeping your star employees engaged and happy enough to stick around is another matter entirely. With the job market more competitive than ever, even your best people could be tempted away by the lure of new opportunities, better benefits, or a more appealing company culture elsewhere. So how can you ensure your top talent stays put?

The key is to create an environment where your top performers feel valued, challenged, and invested in the company’s success. Do this well, and they’ll have little incentive to look elsewhere. Here are some tips on how to retain top employees:

Show them the money (to an extent)…

Regardless of everything else your company has to offer, compensation is always a major factor.

You don’t necessarily have to match every counteroffer, but you need competitive pay and benefits. Regular pay reviews and bonuses tied to performance show you reward excellence. But money alone won’t suffice…

Give them growth opportunities

Your top talent likely want to expand their skills. Offer training, coaching, and stretch assignments to help them develop. Job rotation exposes them to new challenges while cross-training prepares them for advancement. Make it easy for them to articulate their goals and help them create a path for getting there.

Provide developmental feedback

Your HiPos (High Potential Employees) crave feedback that helps them improve. Regularly discuss their performance and areas of strength/development. Be specific with constructive criticism and praise. A good manager acts as a mentor and coach whose door is always open.

Let them shine

Assign projects allowing your stars to strut their stuff. High visibility roles grab the attention of leadership, which your ambitious employees seek. Delivering great results earns public recognition at company meetings or events. Writing for your blog or speaking at conferences builds their personal brand.

Involve them in decisions

Consult your top talent when considering changes that affect them, whether revamping processes or choosing new technology. Include them in cross-functional teams or task forces designing solutions. Value and leverage their input and expertise.

Promote work-life balance

All work and no play burns people out. Allow flexible schedules. Be sensitive to family obligations. Respect vacations by not contacting them excessively off hours. Build camaraderie through company events, social outings, and team building activities.

Keep them in the loop

Don’t let your top talent feel like mushrooms kept in the dark. Transparent communication prevents rumors and ensures buy-in. Share corporate strategy, financial realities, competitive threats, new initiatives, etc. Arm them with insider knowledge.

Stay on top of engagement

Watch for signs of boredom, frustration, or dissatisfaction through one-on-ones, stay interviews, and engagement surveys. Be proactive addressing problems before they start looking elsewhere. Know what motivates each person.

Make them feel appreciated

Don’t take your top talent for granted. Say thanks and show you value their contributions. Call out their wins to leadership and the wider organisation. Check in regularly as a mentor to take their pulse. Small gestures like remembering a birthday or milestone go a long way.

Foster collaboration over competition

Pitting employees against each other breeds toxicity. Promote teamwork and cooperation to avoid cut-throat politics. Collaboration helps people see their peers as partners, not rivals. It also leverages diverse perspectives.

Keep learning and developing fun

Make training and development opportunities rewarding rather than mandatory. Gamify learning through points, leaderboards, and friendly competition. Support peer mentoring and let people freely share their expertise. A little fun helps learning stick.

Monitor company culture

The work environment directly impacts employee engagement and retention. Ensure a positive, inclusive culture where people enjoy working. Deal swiftly with toxic employees to prevent dysfunction. Celebrate diversity and promote belonging. Make ethics and wellbeing top priorities.

Know when to let go

Bit heavy this one isn’t it! But despite your best efforts, some HiPos will leave for reasons outside of your control, like a relocation. So you should handle resignations professionally and conduct candid exit interviews. Keep the door open for boomerangs who may return someday. Sometimes folks need space to spread their wings for awhile or realise the grass isn’t always greener.

The reality is you can’t force people to stay when they want to move on. But following these tips will encourage the loyalty of most high performers by keeping them challenged, invested and appreciated. That connection needs constant nurturing, so check in frequently and keep your top talent relationships healthy. With some love given to your stars, they’ll keep shining brightly on your team.


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