Why top employees cross over to competitors, and how can it be prevented

Seasoned headhunter Kara Atkinson says there are seven ways to encourage loyalty in employees

Why top employees cross over to competitors, and how can it be prevented

Nobody wants to lose an employee to a competitor, especially if he or she is a consistent performer. However, according to The Sales Recruiter Chief Executive Officer Kara Atkinson, it still happens because many companies merely “give lip service” when it comes to showing importance to good employees.

“These companies don’t treat such employees as though they’re important,” Atkinson told MPA. “Companies that keep most of their great people, at every level, treat them like valued partners in the business' success.”

According to Atkinson, companies that retain top talent are honest and consistent in communicating important information. “It's an awful feeling to find out critical news about your company by reading about it in the paper. Communicate the great and difficult stuff first to your employees,” she said.

Top companies also include employees in the decision-making process whenever possible. This can be anything from getting input from employee surveys and responding in substantive ways, to creating a culture where authority to make decisions is “pushed as far down into the company as possible.”

“In companies that are bad at keeping great people, employees tend to feel that they're twisting in the wind most of the time,” Atkinson said.

She added that supporting employees can take many forms, but the ones that have the biggest impact are those that assures employees that their employer genuinely cares about their success, such as asking about their professional hopes and finding ways to help them grow.

Atkinson offers seven ways on how employers can retain top talent, particularly those in sales:

  1. Recognize people in non-monetary ways
    Companies should not limit their compensation package to monetary rewards. They should include opportunities such as being recognised in the company newsletter for a job well done, meeting, and building rapport with senior executives and getting featured in events.
    “Why only hire professional speakers when there are people in your organisation who can add so much value to each other? Let them shine and they will reciprocate,” Atkinson said.

  2. Reward those who perform
    Employees, especially in sales, often feel undervalued and underappreciated for their hard work, according to Atkinson. Those who perform need to be rewarded. And rewards aren’t always monetary – they can range from verbal recognition to free gym memberships.

  3. Give them room to grow
    “In sales, talent is precious and must be led with intention – and talented salespeople must have a clear path to growth and increased income potential,” Atkinson said. They can typically get this type of clarity via regular coaching and accountability sessions.  

  4. Find out what’s important to each of them
    An employer can inspire his or her team to be self-motivated by knowing what makes each member feel valued. It could be a pay raise, paid time-off, or an accolade — it depends on the person. 
    “Once you know this, you can show your appreciation appropriately and thereby cultivate happy, thriving employees,” Atkinson said.

  5. Provide individualised support
    Even if they’re selling the same product or service, each salesperson should be treated uniquely. Atkinson encouraged employers to “do their best to provide the most relevant support to each professional, because making everyone do the same thing the same way will hinder the ability of some,” and results in turnovers.

  6. Connect them with the product team
    Sales professionals often feel disconnected from the people responsible for creating the products they sell, so Atkinson suggests that employers provide a way for the two departments to communicate regularly.

  7. Keep your compensation plan in place
    According to Atkinson, the number one complaint of salespeople is that their employers change their compensation plan for the worse. If they want their people to continue to fight for results, employers better have a good reason for redrawing territories and reducing commissions.
    “Take heed and do not change the deal without clear consideration,” she said.

 

A headhunter for 18 years, Kara Atkinson is the CEO of “The Sales Recruiter.” Having assisted over 1,000 sales leaders into their next role, Atkinson is fuelled by the opportunity to help people continue to build and transform themselves through their career. In 2019, Atkinson launched SPARC, a network exclusive for elite sales leaders.

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