Dear Clinging to Hope:
Talent will flee from uncertainty—and why not? It's a seller's market. Ensure that your best people know that they are your best people. Have respected senior leaders personally take them aside to sketch out the organization's future and their role in it. These "messages of security" must be repeated six times in different ways, so that employees really understand that their jobs are safe.
If there is a sufficient number of them (at least 20), undertake a stay survey to identify the factors that encourage people to stay, causes that would make them resign, and which messages they need to hear about their future.
If there are insufficient numbers to conduct an aggregated survey, provide each employee with a "Personal Engagement Plan," in which an external group of people interviews each employee and creates a plan for their learning, their preferred manager practices, the changes they'd like to see to increase their performance, and ways to retain their knowledge in low-cost or no-cost ways.
If these really are your best people, make sure they know it by directly telling them—thus making it harder for them to leave.
SOURCE: Lisa Halloran, Retention Partners, Sydney, Australia, June 9, 2008.
LEARN MORE: Companies that take a measured approach to layoffs during economic slumps are likely to rebound quicker than others—and may even be able to poach top performers away from their competitors.
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