In our last blog, we discussed the importance of developing a strong leadership bench by shaping the right employees into future leaders with targeted training and succession planning. High-performing agencies not only have great talent but also know how their new leaders will transfer through the ranks of the agency.
However, once you have identified your list of “High Potentials,” or employees with the abilities and potential to be successful leaders within your agency, your work is far from over. It is critical that you retain these employees and continue to help them grow with your agency. After all, you are investing time and money into them. If they leave, not only are they taking with them valuable training and experience, but also the agency suffers an opportunity cost from losing a future leader.
Identify Employee Flight Risks
It’s important for agencies to be aware and equipped to act when staff members show early warnings signs of leaving the agency. By taking an analytical approach, you can identify leading indicators of high-potential employees that are a flight risk. Using an efficient human resources (HR) system, for example, you can track basic employee information to identify commonalities among those who depart. If you’re early enough, you can intervene before they leave.
Indicators could include:
- Keeping strange hours
- Uncharacteristically bad attitudes
- Having a poor relationship with a manager
- Low satisfaction or FEVS scores
- Disengagement in company activities
In fact, advanced predictive analytics can be modeled on historical employee data to arrive at a flight risk score. Just like how banks use credit scores to determine risk of defaulting on loans, an agency can use a flight risk score to identify employees at risk of turning over. What-if scenarios can be used to test assumptions and inform retention action plans. Extra attention should be given to retaining your high-potential employees.
Implement Your Retention Action Plan
Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Agencies that proactively manage retention instead of reacting to every departure reap huge dividends. If you’ve noticed any of the behaviors above, it may be time to take significant steps to retain your top employees and ensure they continue growing with your agency.
Actions you need to consider:
- Create a personalized learning plan. If the employee shows interest in developing their skills or learning new ones, consider putting together a personalized plan and offering them tailored training and development programs. This could also include goals and milestones to accomplish.
- Provide ongoing feedback. Regular discussions between managers and their employees can make all the difference between an employee staying or going. Without them, you may miss an opportunity to prevent frustrations that result in the loss of a valued employee.
- Give them a glimpse of their future. Show your high potentials what they can expect as they grow with your agency and highlight some of the upcoming opportunities they can anticipate—it will keep them motivated and engaged.
An unexpected departure of a high-performing staff member is never desirable, but being on the lookout for warning signs can reduce any potential setbacks to the agency’s mission as well as the morale of remaining employees. Also, when early intervention is possible, spotting those possible flight risks may help prevent early staff departures.
An enterprise HR solution can help federal HR practitioners determine employee flight risks early on. It can also assist in meeting employee needs by creating development programs and succession plans to retain top employees and help them grow to be the future leaders of the agency.
George Kettner is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.