Our culture is filled with romanticized ideas of how losing something finally makes you appreciate what you had. “If you love something, let it go” or “if it comes back, it’s meant to be.”  I’m not saying that isn’t solid advice under the right circumstances. 

However, when it comes to the workplace, ‘letting go’ can cost up to 40% of an employee’s base salary to hire a new employee with benefits, and large US businesses lose at least $1 trillion a year due to voluntary employee turnover. 

In this instance, the good ole’ jam “Don’t know what you got til it’s gone” is spot on. 

So, if you’re an employer with a rockstar employee? Don’t lose them

52% of exiting employees say that their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job, according to a recent Gallup analysis. People leave jobs for all sorts of reasons and it won’t always be possible to keep every star employee. But with over half of the employees polled saying something could have been done to keep them, there is plenty of opportunity to ensure that good employees stay put and feel valued.

How do you do that? Use the ACE up your sleeve: Appreciation, Compensation and Engagement. 

Appreciation: No matter how humble an online strengths assessment tool may claim someone is, everyone wants to be appreciated. The grind of daily tasks, overstuffed email inboxes, and steady march of deadlines can make it all too easy to succumb to apathy. But there must be a resistance! Employee appreciation is a crucial component of retention. Flashy appreciation like employee awards ceremonies or regular catered lunches are great, but don’t underestimate the impact of more subtle appreciation. Comment regularly on the quality of the work your employees do. Be specific in your praise, show that you really notice the work they are doing. If they contributed to a presentation you’re giving or project that is finally finished, give them the credit. Leading in this way also models appreciation so that, ideally, employees will follow suit. An office filled with regular appreciation, rather than apathy, is an office people don’t want to leave. 

Compensation: This is – dare I say – the biggest key to retaining star players. As we’ve written previously, traditional compensation is broken, especially when it comes to effective retention. Incorporating vesting cash bonuses from Keep into a comprehensive compensation plan rewards employees not just for the work they’ve done but also work they’ve yet to do. Immediate access to a lump sum of cash which vests over an agreed upon amount of time could really make a difference in an employee’s quality of life. They may want to buy a house, now that conditions seem to be swinging in the buyer’s favor again. Maybe they’re expanding their family through pregnancy or adoption, both pricey in their own right. It could be as simple as wanting a larger cushion underneath them as we all battle through the current inflation. Whatever the situation, a vesting cash bonus from Keep can help employees reach their financial goals and help employers retain star players. 

Engagement: Highly engaged teams are 14% to 18% more productive than low engagement teams. There are plenty of things managers can do to increase engagement. Take the time to connect the “daily grind” to the company mission. Working towards a “why” gives the work significance. Practice unbiased and active listening with team members. Even if there is little a manager could do to solve a problem, feeling heard and validated goes a long way with employees. Organize happy hours, allow for flex scheduling if possible, recognize birthdays and other milestones. It doesn’t have to be elaborate to be effective. 

When it comes to great employees, don’t wait to value them after they’re gone. Show your appreciation, upgrade your compensation plan, and practice proactive engagement NOW. Don’t let your dream team walk out the door.