Why Your Star Performer Might Be About To Leave


When your star performer considers leaving the company, there are often tell-tale signs. Their enthusiasm visibly drops, their hours decrease, they ask for odd times off (to attend interviews) and their LinkedIn connections and Twitter posts increase markedly.

This article discusses some key reasons why your key players become disillusioned, and how you can take steps to retain them or manage their departure with minimum fallout to the company.

Why do star players leave?

**PRIMARY REASON IS CAREER PROSPECTS** 43% of respondents cited this

1: Money

In this competitive market place, your star players will probably be aware of their worth to your competition, and recruiters could be sending job offers to their inbox. According to the survey ISE Partners published in December 2014, salary concerns are one of the two main reasons why employees leave their jobs, cited by 22% of respondents as the primary motivator and 39% as a highly important factor. It is vital to pay market rate or above for your key players, not only to stop them straying, but also as a sign of respect. If your employee is largely money-motivated, then a salary increase or bonus incentive should retain them.

This does not necessarily have to be a large amount; studies (Princeton) show that people rate their satisfaction with their income in relation to how much others are being paid. Even a relatively modest differential will often secure the star player, as it confirms their worth to the business.

If for some reason you cannot offer a salary increase, then try to compensate with non-monetary perks, such as flexibility with hours or the option to work from home. Take time to discuss their goals, both personal and professional, and paint a picture for them of how these can be attained during their career with the company.

If there are skills they want to learn or courses they want to take, find a way to make these happen- and make sure it is done or you will be putting out more fires later on. This is not just advice for key players, but all employees.

Remuneration may be a large factor in turnover, but it is not the sole one, and has the benefit of being relatively easy to fix.

2: Disillusionment

Disillusionment comes in several forms, although in the worst cases all will be present.

a)      Disillusionment with the immediate boss.

b)      Disillusionment with the company’s future or culture.

c)       Personal disillusionment: a sense that their hard work is not appreciated.

Star players rarely complain; their path from loyalty to dissatisfaction is often quiet and rapid. This is why regular performance reviews and informal discussions are so important, to get genuine feedback about how they feel about the company. Often, disillusionment can be headed off in the early stages with a conversation that airs concerns and offers solutions and respect.

Companies often make the mistake of taking the hard work of their star players for granted, especially over time. ‘Sarah can do it, she always works weekends, she won’t mind’. This kind of thinking is dangerous, for at some point ‘Sarah’ will almost certainly mind, especially when she sees other employees leaving their desk at 5pm on the dot. Pay her more, praise her more, and maintain a real respect for her personal time- or she will get fed up and start opening those emails from recruiters that she had previously deleted without a second’s thought.

It is vital not to let the situation deteriorate; don’t delay when you see the warning signs. In scenarios where disillusionment becomes toxic, your star employee can stir up real problems in their team. Do everything you can to fix the situation, and if you can’t then offer them a path out of the business that leaves them with a sense of respect, for themselves and the company. If possible, pay out their notice period or allow them to work from home, to prevent their disillusionment from spreading.

Real disillusionment only happens in those who have real loyalty to begin with. Retain these players and your business will thrive.

Till next time,