According to a recent survey, 42% of employees are looking for another job. With this alarming statistic in mind, leaders are turning every which way in the era of what we call The Great Adjustment to understand exactly how to retain their top talent

puzzle piecesThere are three puzzle pieces that can be powerful elements in retaining critical talent, and you may be surprised to hear that one of them is not salary. While a pay bump is always nice, it can put a company in a bind to put in place a mass pay rise while budgets and plans are still fluctuating in an ever-evolving world. 

Leaning on our 10-step strategic framework to employee engagement, The Engagement Bridge™, we like to look at the top three elements of the bridge to keep your star players: Job Design, Learning and Recognition. 

There are three steps that go alongside these elements to retain employees and those are to:

1. Understand your current talent mix
2. Leverage your existing data to identify top performers
3. Elevate your offerings and overall Employee Value Proposition to retain employees

Step 1: Understand your current talent mix


Another framework to complement The Engagement Bridge is our Employee Engagement Quadrant, which shows you four ‘types’ of employees your organisation likely has: Go-Getters, Ambassadors, Detractors and Stayers. On the x-axis, we have employees’ intent to stay and on the y-axis, we have an employee’s discretionary effort. 

The cost and risk of employee churn are at their highest in your top two quadrants, your Go-Getters and your Ambassadors: 

Go-Getters score high on the discretionary effort axis so they’re self-driven and ready to contribute, but they’re naturally drawn to new challenges. What does this mean? These go-getters are actually most at risk of being poached by your competitors. Go-Getters will seek out an employer who fits what they’re looking for, and the best way to cultivate that loyalty and tap into their productivity is to help them see the impact of their work and give them clear opportunities for growth. 

Ambassadors score high on both axes – they’ve bought into your vision, they actively contribute to company culture, remain visible, can be easier to manage remotely and are willing to push the boundaries in their day-to-day role. 

motivated employees

These top two quadrants are your star performers – they offer the most opportunity for propelling growth and innovation in your business – and they’re also the people you need to work hard to keep. 

When it comes to the cost of attrition, the numbers are staggering, with one study in AFR saying the real cost of losing star performers is 400% of their salary

So take some time to think about where your current talent mix sits – which quadrant contains the majority of your employees? Next, think about if you’re able to identify the Go-Getters and Ambassadors in your business. We have a survey tool, The Engaged Index, that helps clients determine where groups are in these quadrants, but you may have a sense without measuring. Could you even think about opportunities for healthy churn in your Detractors or Stayers (those who aren’t adding value to your business) to ensure your talent keeps moving your business forward as it grows?

Learn more about how Employee Surveys can support your unique business goals See Reward Gateway Solutions

Step 2: Leverage data to identify critical talent

Maybe you know exactly who your top performers are, maybe you think you know, but one thing is for certain: Data doesn’t lie. Using a powerful tool such as reward and recognition data can help you to uncover some really interesting insights in your teams to help drive your employee retention strategy. Beyond the usual ‘who’s logged in, who has sent an eCard’ you can start to identify trends, such as noticing: 

  • Teams that frequently collaborate together. What are they doing that others aren’t? Consider speaking to the managers of the teams to understand how they build bridges within your organisation that others can learn from. 
  • Individuals with untapped skill sets/capabilities that you could leverage to support growth. Maybe someone took on a new project that you weren’t aware of, and they’ve excelled on the new challenge. These types of moments can prompt conversations around job design and individual professional development.
  • The Movers and Shakers. These are your most critical talent, who are being recognised and rewarded frequently. How can you support them in their opportunities to learn and grow further in your organisation?
  • The Recognition Champions. Who are the people that take time to acknowledge the great work of others, and highlight examples of your values in action? These people may have the right insight to be leaders in the future. Offering them opportunities to grow and develop is a win for them and for the organisation.


Step 3: Elevate your offerings and overall EVP to retain employees

In Step one you thought through your talent mix, and in Step two, you’ve gained insight into identifying that critical talent. Next, think about the qualities and traits of those top performers, knowing that these are the type of candidates you want to attract (and the employees you want to retain). What do they value? What means most to them in your overall Employee Value Proposition (EVP)? What drives them to get up each morning and perform amazing work? If you can properly identify these drivers, you can make sure your EVP mirrors these wants and needs to not only attract incredible talent, but keep your current talent loyal. 

Here are a few examples of how you can tap into those different drivers to improve your overall retention strategy, focussing on different levers of your EVP: 


Meaningful reward

An incredible reward will look different to different people based on their values, their lifestyle and their personal priorities. Rewards don’t have to come in the form of spa days, chocolate deliveries, expensive wine or even pay rises.

Nowadays, modern organisations are giving their employees ultimate choice when it comes to their reward, empowering them to choose the exact type of reward they want, from an experience to a voucher to their favourite retailer to millions of items on Amazon. Beyond monetary reward, Reward Gateway also offers employers options to deliver custom rewards, such as Lunch with the CEO, an extra day off or even company-branded merchandise. 

Prominent recognition

Sometimes to make someone feel incredible, companies don’t have to spend a thing. A shoutout from Leadership, like our CEO Doug Butler does in his weekly update, can make an employee feel valued and special by being ‘seen’ by senior Leadership. 

Managers can ensure this happens by sharing stories of powerful moments or project progressions for Leadership to reference in their all-hands updates, which is all the more easier when managers get notified if their direct reports receive an eCard or award in the moment. 


New Learning and Development opportunities

happy employee on computer

While you may not be able to customise each and every L&D demand, a bulk offering like LinkedIn Learning, or other L&D programs can give employees access to a wide variety of ways to upskill themselves. For those that go above and beyond, consider a company stipend to pay for a day-long workshop or a mentoring session with a senior Leadership member as an extra bonus.

Career progression or stretch projects

Once upon a time, organisations could offer destination roles for employees as something to work towards – the opportunity to travel or to move up in the business with clear progression. And those are still great, but organisations who can’t offer that CAN still offer something meaningful and valuable. A backpack of offerings or transferable skills and experiences that are tailored, personalised and impactful, and make employees feel valued and seen. 

Companies can look to give employees stretch projects that push employees to think outside of their normal day-to-day role… think someone in Marketing working with your Client Success Team to develop a new advocacy program, or a Sales Consultant working with Engineering to take lead on how a new feature is developed. The more these projects can make a tangible impact on the business’s bottom line, the better! 

So to recap, the three steps to add to improve your retention strategy are to:

  1. Understand your current talent mix
  2. Leverage your existing data to identify top performers
  3. Elevate your offerings and overall Employee Value Proposition to retain employees

In today’s era of The Great Adjustment, businesses that will rise to the top of a candidate’s list are the ones who take the time to listen and learn from their top performers. If you’re interested in learning more about how Reward Gateway can help you better attract, retain and engage your employees, get in touch today.

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Alexandra Powell

Alexandra Powell, Director of Client Cultural Insights, not only knows American Sign Language, but uses it to secretly communicate with her husband and kids at parties. Alex is a highly experienced employee engagement consultant, trainer and speaker. For over 20 years she has helped HR and business leaders implement strategies that drive true culture change.

Director of Client Cultural Insights

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