Competition for talent is fierce, with one operations VP at an i4cp member company reporting that several of his technical experts have standing job offers from competitors. As a result, it’s rare for HR and other business leaders to talk about high-potential and high-performing employees in their organization without also discussing talent risk. High-caliber employees are sought-after commodities on the talent market, and not having the right capabilities in key business areas is a legitimate fear. 

High-potential and high-performing employees are precious assets in any organization’s talent storehouse. They are value-creators—people who contribute disproportionately to organizational success—and i4cp research reveals that the majority of organizations are well aware of this fact.

i4cp’s Accelerating High-Potential Employees on the Path to Leadership white paper shows that 73% of high market performing organizations take special pains to identify top performers. Despite this, a recent study by Sibson Consulting on rewards strategy asserts that even though most companies (77%) differentiate between star performers and other employees—and more than half (60%) provide extraordinary rewards to higher performers—almost all (80%) have trouble retaining their top people.

High performers drive today’s results; high potentials are the organization’s talent base for the future. This fact puts attrition and retention at the heart of many major talent frustrations listed below:

  • Identifying, differentially rewarding, and nurturing high potentials only to have them lured away by competitors, go off to join the gig economy, or leave to start their own ventures.
  • Diminishing ROI on carefully planned and often expensive learning and development activities as attrition stats show your organization is leaking away recently developed high-performing and high-potential talent.
  • Reacting too slowly or inefficiently in efforts to plug the talent leaks. i4cp’s Talent Risk Management study found that 88% of high-performance organizations express concern about talent risk among people considered to be technical experts, but less than 33% have taken any substantive steps to address the issue.

What to do?

i4cp’s research shows that high-performance organizations tackle retention by providing personalized coaching, focused development opportunities and support, and stretch growth assignments. To plan and implement these remedies appropriately and in a timely way, organizations need to be in touch with their key talent. Connecting allows you to gauge employee sentiment about their work experience and helps to identify areas where changes are needed.

Stay interviews—an approach i4cp has implemented with great success for member organizations—are a reliable way for organizations to tune into the needs of their key talent, including:

  • What makes a job attractive—pay, benefits, company culture, overall environment, and/or their personal job situation?
  • What is the satisfaction level for immediate and future career prospects?
  • How do employees view the job market?  
  • Who is expressing readiness for a job change?
  • Who may need to be re-recruited to stay motivated and productive?
  • Who may be an attrition risk and what can be done about it?

Top talent it too important to lose; staying connected and aware of their needs is a sound approach.

Patrick Murray is i4cp’s leader for exit and stay interviews and attrition/retention analysis projects.