You Really Don’t Got a Hold On Me

“We think you’re a very promising empl—hey, where’d you go?”

Today, even in economically tough times, holding on to employees with great potential can be extremely difficult. You know these employees are valuable, but so do they—and so do recruiters.

Perhaps that’s why a new survey conducted by AMA Enterprise, an arm of the American Management Association, found that one in four companies fails to hold onto its most promising workers. Meanwhile, only a small minority of businesses are any good at retaining their up-and-comers.

Peter Drucker viewed employee turnover as something costly—and also unavoidable.

Image source: Flickr Commons

As we’ve noted before, Drucker stressed that the assets of knowledge workers—their noggins—are highly portable. That’s why giving these employees “exceptional opportunities for putting their knowledge to work” is crucial.

[EXPAND More]Drucker also pointed out that companies can’t rely on an ethos of loyalty to keep employees in place. That was yesterday’s virtue. “I still hear friends of mine in business talking about loyalty and so on,” Drucker remarked in one of his lectures. “Don’t. Accept the fact that your job has to be of value to the employee.”

Drucker wasn’t talking about simply offering people more money, either. “Financial incentives don’t prevent people from leaving,” Drucker commented in Managing in the Next Society. “They motivate people to leave, because the moment they can get that bonus or exercise those options, then the immediate financial gain becomes their only motivation. Companies that have gone in most for these things have had the greatest turnover.”

What Drucker did recommend was that top-level executives take a personal interest in young workers and spend time with them. “Perhaps the greatest complaint of the young people in the large organization today is that there is nobody who listens to them, nobody who tries to find out who they are and what they are doing, nobody who is their godfather,” Drucker wrote in Men, Ideas, and Politics. “The absence of the human contact, the guide, the counsel, the listener, is a main reason for our heavy turnover among young educated employees.”

What do you think: What’s the best way to hold on to promising employees today?