7 Ways to Avoid Losing Your Top Talent

6 Sep ‘22
5 min
Work performance
Editorial Board OpenUp

Like a lion lurking in the long grasses of the Savannah, there’s a threat that’s always ready to pounce: employee resignations. Voluntary resignations make up one of the largest hidden running costs for most companies. When employees leave, they often take with them a treasure trove of knowledge and skills. Not to mention that attracting new talent and training them up costs time and money.


That’s why it’s always better to prevent than it is to cure. So, how can you reduce voluntary resignations? Well, you need to thoroughly understand why each resignation happened and adapt your strategy accordingly. Research shows that 21% of employees resign due to a lack of opportunities for advancement. 13% resign because they’re dissatisfied with their work-life balance.


A good mental wellbeing package is increasingly high on the list of employee requirements. Unlimited access to consultations with accredited psychologists not only helps to maintain employees’ mental health and prevent absenteeism, but also helps to prevent dismissals.


A few general tips: 


1. Start at the beginning: The recruitment process


Preventing voluntary resignations begins as early as the recruitment process. Sometimes a candidate comes along that makes you as a HR professional or manager think: “What a find. I’ve got to bring in this talented person.” But talent isn’t everything. It’s also your responsibility to find employees that are a good fit.


And the word ‘fit’ comprises of several factors. When taking on a new employee, you might ask yourself the following questions:


  • Does this person’s skill set fit the role? If the answer is ‘no, but their skill set can be developed’, then there’s actually less stopping you from hiring this person than if the answer is ‘no, this person is overqualified’.
  • What is this person’s previous history? Do they often switch jobs and why? Is the role you’re offering a logical next step considering this person’s prior history?
  • Will the company culture suit this person’s personality, working style, and attitude? Having a diverse range of personalities and working styles has many benefits for your company, but if there’s no common ground at all, then this might be a reason to stop and think.
  • What vision does this person have for the company? Does this match the company’s vision?
  • Does this person agree with the company values? If no, then they’re probably not a good match.


In addition, make sure that the candidate is openly and honestly informed about the above points. This is because 37% of recruitment professionals think that retention would be higher if applicants were better informed about the company and their role.


2. Onboarding and training


Never underestimate the power of communication during the onboarding process. When starting a new role, many employees feel disorientated. They don’t understand what the organization expects from them or these expectations seem to be totally out of line with how things really are. This results in a high rate of voluntary resignations. 20% of voluntary resignations happen in the first 45 days of work.


That’s why onboarding is so important. Onboarding is about a lot more than signing an employment contract and reading some introductory material. If employees don’t get the correct training, they won’t feel comfortable within their role. The better your training program is, the lower your rate of voluntary resignations and the better your employees will perform. It’s a win-win! You’ll find a useful guide to onboarding here.


 3. Map out a career path


The magic word for retaining personal in the long term is: prospects. Would you have kept hitting the school books if you hadn’t known where your next grade or next school qualification would get you? And that these would increase your chances of landing a meaningful job? Probably not. The same applies to your career: When people have milestones to work towards, they stay (motivated) for longer. As we’ve said, 21% of employees leave due to a lack of opportunities.


So, how do you map out a path like this? By consistently making it clear that more challenging tasks, higher salaries, and increased responsibilities lie ahead. Some organizations, for example the Big Four, choose to make these milestones really concrete and measurable. Others, such as the consultancy firm where I used to work, choose to let individuals decide with their team when it’s time for the next step.


Pick a way that suits your company culture and values. For example, click here to see what career paths look like at major consulting firms.


4. Offer external guidance


If there are sufficient learning experiences and growth opportunities, employees stay for longer. You can create some of these opportunities in the workplace, but support from external experts also contributes. For this reason, OpenUp helps employees to develop soft skills for tackling everyday challenges. From work performance skills related to time management and productivity, to skills relating to sleep, self-confidence, and relationships.


OpenUp helps employees develop soft skills to overcome everyday challenges. From work-related things like time management or productivity to private topics like sleep, self-confidence or relationships.


 5. Encourage team building


Never underestimate the role that work colleagues play in promoting job satisfaction. It might be more significant than the work itself. Research even shows that having a ‘best friend’ at work is directly linked to higher engagement. For this reason, team building is an important key to success.


To promote this, make sure there is plenty of opportunity for informal contact. For example, before and after meetings, during lunch breaks, at office drinks, and on work outings. People don’t have to immediately become best friends, but being familiar with each other and trusting each other is a minimum requirement.


6. Ensure a healthy work-life balance


This is a really important topic. That’s why we’ve devoted a whole article to it. Want to know how you can ensure a healthy work-life balance within your organization? Then read about it here. It’s worth the effort because, as already mentioned, 13% of employees leave because they are dissatisfied in this area.


The psychologists at OpenUp can also help with this and provide your employees with the right tools. This can also be interesting for future managers in your company who are still looking for the right balance between private life and new challenges.


7. Be very vigilant about inappropriate behavior


Inappropriate behavior goes deeper than the #metoo stories that have been making the headlines for years. Inappropriate behavior can also be more minor things: excluding people or treating them differently to others, untoward comments, or intimidation. And it can lead to resignations.


Establish a zero-tolerance policy. Regardless of a person’s position within the organization, make it clear: inappropriate behavior will lead to dismissal. Understand that one forced resignation could prevent many voluntary ones.


Not all voluntary resignations are bad


Although this article has focused on how to prevent voluntary resignations, this isn’t always the best option. Sometimes a resignation is the better route. For example, if someone has reached their potential within the organization but might be able to grow elsewhere. Celebrate the contribution that this employee has made to the organization. If you maintain a good relationship with the departing employee, then the move might even create future business opportunities.


Would you like to learn more about how you can reduce the churn rate as an HR professional or manager? 👉 More than 350 companies are already increasing employee satisfaction with OpenUp as their partner for mental well-being.