How To Retain Your Top Employees

MT - Articles

With the current climate, and unemployment on a steady decline in Malta since 2014, businesses nationwide would be reckless not to have any strategies or programmes in place for retaining their staff. Even more so, when considering a company’s top talent. It could be devastating to lose a consistent top performer with clear potential. The loss of their contribution to the business, knowledge and expertise, not to mention having to deal with the cost of replacing the individual and develop and train another person to reach that calibre of performance could have long-term consequences.

The cost of replacing one employee can run into thousands, depending on what skill-set has been lost. On average, it is estimated that the cost of replacing an employee can cost about one third of the employee’s salary. Multiply that by however many people have left the company that year, and you don’t have to be a mathematician to see total turnover cost increasing to an amount which would furrow the brows of some of the most optimistic board members. We regularly see businesses suffering losses such as these which sometimes have such a negative impact, that they spark a domino effect amongst other members of staff who choose to leave, for what may be a myriad of reasons.

But how can we keep our top people from jumping ship?

Here are the 4 A’s to help you retain your A-Players for as long as possible.


Harnessing a culture which encourages and sustains accountability is intrinsic to the employee work-ethic and its contribution to the business as a whole. If the employees understand WHY they are doing their job, and HOW their contribution has an impact, then the commitment level will increase exponentially. This happens especially if they can see that their specific contribution is having a measured positive impact. This will tie in to the level of accountability that the employee takes for their own work and their results. Accountability cannot be sustained without an increase in the individuals’ responsibilities. If you withhold a heightened responsibility threshold from your staff, who do you think will be the first to get bored and listless, and seek the next opportunity? Encourage your employees to grow. Give your emerging stars the opportunity to really emerge shine through ample opportunities for them to gain new skills and regular performance conversations that allow room for growth.


Employees want to know that they are appreciated for the work that they do, but also considered by their employer in terms of their work/life balance and individual personal circumstances. Put yourself in the shoes of your top performer. He puts tooth and nail into his/her efforts, and fully understands the positive impact that they are having on your business. When your appreciation wanes, your star players will feel the disappointment much more profoundly.


The rewards you give your employees should speak to their emotional needs and go beyond monetary compensation. That is not to say that rewards that fulfil the monetary need of your employees should be done away with. Monetary remuneration, however, in most cases will not guarantee retention especially if they are head-hunted by other companies. Consideration for how the individual likes to be recognised is tantamount. Consider whether the employee is the type to be intrinsically or extrinsically motivated? This should reflect the form recognition that you choose to give. Are their needs as an employee being met? Do you really know the circumstances of the individual outside of their job role, and how you as an employer you can have an impact on them as people? Your relationship with your employees requires effort in both directions. If the effort is clear and measured positively from the employee’s side, the employer needs to ensure that the employee feels valued. This will play a big part in in their decision-making process as to whether they should hop onto the next bus or not.


Organisations talk about autonomy, independence and empowerment however the question is… Can these traits be given to an employee? It is more than likely that your best people already possess the characteristics that would be associated with autonomous behaviour, and therefore would embrace the opportunity to really show these traits in the workplace. That is, if the opportunity exists. An environment which encourages autonomy would set apart your bright stars from your dimmers. Making sure ample opportunity is available to them will really solidify your knowledge of who your top talent really is. As an employer it is your job to recognise the needs of your people. A-Players need to feel empowered to make decisions within their respective roles, and consequently, your job is to create an environment that will make this possible.

Every key player is critical to the well being of your business. These are the people who will develop new business, find new ways to reduce costs, build better relationships with clients as well as challenge the norms of the company whilst driving innovation and positive change. The future of your organisation is literally in the hands of your top people. Your investment in keeping them will be the most rewarding initiative you have introduced within your company, and your employees will reap the benefits for the business.

Win-win right?

AuthorRachel Russell, Business Trainer

Mdina International