How to Retain Your Engaged Leaders

Posted on January 23, 2015 by Don MacPherson.

Even though numbers from Modern Survey’s Fall 2014 State of Engagement study show that engagement is up, the research also found that more people are looking for new jobs. According to the study, 28 percent of all employees are actively looking for a job at another company, up from six months ago, when it was at 25 percent. More concerning, a quarter of engaged employees are looking for new jobs — a higher percentage even than under engaged employees, at 19 percent.

High-performing leaders who inspire engagement in your employees are important when it comes to engagement levels, and focusing your retention efforts on them can pay off as they keep others engaged. “There’s a fine balance with performance on one side, values and behaviors on the other,” says Eileen Timmins, global human resources expert and adjunct professor at DePaul University. “If you have a high performer who, for example, doesn’t embody organizational values very well, he can be put on a development plan and coached.

“You have to reward your star achievers, but you also have to have a pipeline because those star achievers, if they’re doing well, may go somewhere else,” she says. Always be recruiting and looking for new talent.

Check in with your engaged leaders often and find out what they want from their careers. “Some people may be happy working there and feel good about the money, but they’re stressed when they leave the office. Some people might want more ownership. There are different answers for each employee, and taking the time to ask is what it’s all about,” Timmins says.

“It’s always worthwhile to try and retain an engaged high performer,” says Liz Monahan, Quintiq’s global head of human resources. But if someone has made up his mind to leave, she says, it can be very difficult to convince him to reconsider, so it’s crucial to focus on retention efforts at your organization before people make the decision to leave.

“The most effective way to retain a high performer is to make sure he knows he is a high performer and then work with him on a career development plan,” Monahan says.

In the coming months, keep in mind that even if employees are engaged, they may feel that they can get a better job elsewhere and start looking. Surveying your employees can help you get a sense of what they are thinking, and help you develop your organization’s engagement and retention plans to hold onto the top talent you need for success.


To learn more about the current state of employee engagement, go to

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