How to Attract and Retain High Potential Employees

      Let’s face facts. High-potential employees are the future of any organization.

      In the present, they are the star performers who drive business results and bring new ideas to the table.

      In the future, they will be the ones to lead your organization through growth, change and instability.

      The challenge for HR professionals is it is harder than ever to encourage top talent to stay with your organization. And this is especially true for the next generations of workers.

      Millennials, are notoriously ‘disloyal’ employees – in a study conducted by Ceridian, they found that 63% of people under 30 thought that the optimal time to stay with an employer is less than five years.

      Gen X and Y are looking for more meaning and contribution. If your organization does not show them that you are invested in their growth and development, that there are career opportunities open to them, they will look for an organization that does.

      Now this is not about ‘catering to’ these younger generations. It is about building a relationship with them so you can capitalize on their talent and they can capitalize on the opportunities they don’t yet see to bring value.

      High potential employees want career opportunities, not just development.

      HR professionals know that growth and development are one of the top requests of high potential employees. However, giving your best employees opportunities to better themselves is only one part of the equation.

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      Isla is an extremely talented and visionary young tech genius. She is in her late 20’s. She wants to have impact and make a difference in the organization in which she works.

      In today’s world, she has the choice between a junior role at a multinational with a potentially long trajectory to the C-suite or a VP role at a ‘start up’.

      With thousands of Isla’s out there, it is more important than ever for organizations to help high potentials get excited about career opportunities and the contribution they can make within their current employer.

      We have been finding that lots of organizations have development opportunities available. What is missing is the focus on creating a well-defined career development plan that identifies key objectives, opportunities to contribute and potential trajectory.

      Having a well laid out plan contributes to maximize retention potential. High potential employees, especially Millennials, Gen X and Gen Y, need to see that the hard work they are putting in is going to lead them to new opportunities within your organization.

      It’s very unfortunate when the conversation during an exit interview ends with, “If I had known there were more opportunities for me here, I likely would have stayed.”

      Best Practices for High-Potential Leadership Development Programs

      How can you get high potential employees to think about their future with your organization?

      You map it out with them!

      In the high potential programs we’ve developed for organizations around the world, our coaches help high potentials think about three areas: their career vision, their career goals, and their career options.

      This approach provides a visible map and concrete structure that helps both them and their leader see their progress. It the forms the basis for a coaching plan that spans six to twelve months.

      • Career Vision - Focusing on the next role is not enough, it’s too short term. We get high potential employees to take a step back and think about where they might want to be in 5, 10, 20 years from now. By helping them see further into the future, we can then bring them back to the present to populate the map.

      • Career Goals - Focusing on the impact they want to have vs. the job title helps them view “success” from a few different perspectives. We get high potential employees to think about the natural strengths they have, the skills they want to develop, the experiences they want to have and the kind of legacy they would like to leave.
        • Having an idea of what success actually means for your high potential employees enables you to have better conversations about how they can achieve their goals within your organization.

      • Career Options - Mapping development conversations to a high potential’s career vision and goals helps them see the long-term potential that lies within the organization. By focusing on the variety of different career paths and opportunities within your organization, we help them map out an ‘every 5 year’ job hopping plan. So instead of leaving your organization to have a new experience, they see how those new experiences can be achieved within your organization.

      • Career Coaching - Having a confidential 1:1 opportunity to work on their vision, goals, and options with a career coach has shown to be highly valuable for retention of high potentials. They get the opportunity to get feedback, gain new insights, and share their challenges without having to worry about saying something that might be career limiting. Having an unbiased accountability partner helps aid them in executing on their plans quicker thereby letting them see their results faster.

      The ROI when we have supported organizations to offer development programs applying this methodology has shown measurable improvements in job satisfaction and intention to remain with the company, in addition to helping accelerate success.

      This strategy also helps participants zero in on key development areas such as networking, personal branding, building strong relationships, influence and impact, leading and building teams, and leading change and transformation to help them get to the next level faster.

      By creating a visual career map of the possibilities with your high potentials you are building a strong foundation for a long term relationship.

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