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A Guide to Retaining Star Performers

Many institutions of higher education would believe that employee retention would not be a pressing issue with the economic times we are all experiencing right now; think again! Employee turnover is still one of the most costly issues facing academic institutions. Every employee wants to be appreciated and shown gratification above all else by their superiors; yes, even above compensation! All employers, at some point, will have to choose what areas to cut or downsize from spending; employee motivation and joy in the workplace doesn't have to be a part of that! If employers want to maintain happy motivated employees who are productive and enthusiastic about their work, the retention needs to start from pre-employment through the cycle of retirement/termination. There are simple, cost-effective ways to retain your star performers in the workplace without breaking the bank. Above all else keep in mind…employees are human beings—not human assets!

Managers have an idea what their employees want out of their career or job; however, it is not congruent with what employees are stating. Managers feel employees want a relationship with their supervisor job security communication between employees and senior management the organization's financial stability opportunities to use their skills and abilities On the other hand, employees actually want job security, benefits opportunities to use their skills and abilities the satisfaction of the work itself and the organization's financial stability and compensation ( 7/7/10). Management only has a small amount of knowledge regarding their employees' wants and what they value in the workplace. Many ideas through the employee cycle can bring your employees to communicate with you what they value; in turn retain your employees in the long run!

The labor market's tight, but that's not stopping workers from trying to jump ship to another employer. Why the rush to find greener pastures?

  • American workers are not satisfied with their compensation
  • Aren't happy with their employer's contribution to their retirement plans
  • Don't like their organization's retention efforts
  • Aren't satisfied with career growth opportunities within their organization

Four foolproof ways of pumping up satisfaction in the workplace! (Adecco Survey 7/7/10)

  1. Make retention efforts more visible to workers. Organizations and managers may be doing all they can to retain employees, but those efforts need to be seen by the workforce.
  2. Explain salary decision. If you suspect salaries aren't sitting well with employees, explain the reasoning behind lower pay. Help them see it will help the University in the long run, and in turn will help them.
  3. Provide non-cash rewards. Put in extra effort where extra investment is not possible. Just recognizing good work through various efforts can boost morale and ease compensation complaints.
  4. Show employees where they can grow. When employees are given a map of what they need to do to move up in the University, they are more likely to invest their time and energy to help it grow.

Stages of Development

Employees go through stages in their development, and different stages require different rewards and recognition. Some recognition and rewards are more costly or time-consuming versus other ideas. Some ideas are more costly than others, and if your University cannot handle the expenses now, these ideas will always be there for the future! Regardless of how extravagant, small or silly the awards seem, your employees will be happy you appreciate them and care!

Pre-Employment (Recruitment)

Retention through Hiring Process

  1. Ensure the applicant or potential employee "fits" within the University's culture; if the applicant or potential employee doesn't "fit" the institution, the chances of retaining this employee decrease.
  2. During the interview process, describe the culture and expectations of the department to the candidate, and attempt to determine via specific questions, if the person's values aspire or "fit" the expectations.
  3. Simply asking the employee is a good strategy in finding out their work preference.
  4. Have the hiring manager take the employee through what a typical workday would consist of in the perfect environment; this could even open up some new ideas for improvements around the workplace.
  5. Let them know of any budget cuts, furloughs etc., up front and explain to them how the department works to keep up enthusiasm and motivation, (retention methods mentioned below).
  6. Have the future employee take several assessment tests on different occasions; this will discourage any inconsistencies.

High-potential employees are not satisfied with the status quo. They will be the future leaders of your organization if they are given proper guidance in their development. If not, be prepared to lose them.

The Role of Supervisor in Employee Development

  • Provide information and support to facilitate the employee's development
  • Coach employees to help them determine what they need for development
  • Provide both positive and corrective feedback
  • Offer organizational insight, information, and advice
  • Guide the planning through goal setting and checking back over time
  • Allot time and money for development experiences
  • Conduct annual performance evaluations
  • Encourage employees to attend professional development workshops
  • Set professional development goals for your employee

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Contact Us

Office of Human Resources

Savannah State University

P. O. Box 20601

3219 College Street

Colston Administration Building Room 120

Savannah, Georgia 31404

Phone:  912.358.4194

Fax:  912.691.6284




Savannah State University

3219 College Street   •   Savannah, Georgia 31404