How to keep your best employees

Money is nice. But attention, recognition and the chance to learn new skills are the key to keeping top performers on board as the job market improves, experts say.

More people are quitting their jobs voluntarily than getting laid off now. Human resources experts say employers can take several steps to keep employees from leaving, even when a competitor offers a higher salary.

Americans remain nervous about job stability, while the still-recovering economy means companies are largely not doling out lavish salary increases, said Harry Osle, a principal in consultancy Hackett Group Inc.'s human resources practice.

So what'll do the trick? Go personal and communicate. Employees "will be more hesitant to make a jump if they feel like they're part of a family, an organization that's investing in them," Osle said.

• Make sure employees know what company goals are during the recovery from the recession, said Sayed Sadjady, who works on talent management for PricewaterhouseCoopers. New projects, a quest to regain lost market share — these "bring excitement."


• Mentoring and coaching relationships are also crucial, especially if mentors traveled a similar career path, Sadjady said. Isolated employees can feel they have no prospects with the company.

• Employees need to learn new skills. Even if a promotion is not available, challenge high potential workers with projects that will enable them to learn new skills and take on a new role, said Tim Schoonover, the chairman of career consulting firm OI Partners. Otherwise, top performers will leave, he said.

• Recognition. "People want to be appreciated. Give them attention," Schoonover said.

• Flexible work schedules are also important, said Sadjady.

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