To the chagrin of his current employer, Seth, a bright, ambitious 23-year-old recently resigned from the human resources department of a large international company. He had joined the company after graduating college where he had been a dean’s list student and had completed the four-year program in just three years.

While with the company Seth performed exceedingly well. He is a very competent and personable young man. He worked on a variety of corporate projects and stood out as a diamond in the rough, an employee with a great deal of management potential, just the type of person the company wanted to keep.

His goal is to become a strategy consultant. To do so, he wants to first earn an MBA from a prestigious university. He felt he needed more time than his present job afforded him to prepare for the Graduate Management Admission Test and to complete the applications for the upcoming academic year.

He spoke to his supervisor about his plans, but instead of working with him to make certain he stayed with the company, the supervisor said that it probably made sense for him to leave.

Seth quickly landed another job that provided him with the flexible hours he needed to be able to study for the exam and complete the applications.
Not surprisingly, employee attrition is a recognized problem at Seth’s old company. The company is constantly losing good young talent to its competitors. Seth’s supervisor never said to him, “We value you and want to make certain you stay,” “What can we do to help you achieve your career goals within the company,” or “How can we work with you to help you earn your MBA while you are still an employee?”
The truth is that the company could have kept Seth if it had tried. Seth enjoyed his work there and hopes to eventually return later in his career.


1. Word Gets Around Inside

When talented employees leave, an alarm goes off in the minds of those who remain. They begin to question whether their good performance is being noticed and valued by the organization.

2. Word Gets Around Outside

When talented employees leave, it signals to friends, family, and former college classmates that the company may not be such a great place to work.

3. Employee Attrition is Expensive

From a dollars and cents point of view, the cost of talented young employees leaving a company can be 50 to 400 percent of their salary. Here are just some of the many costs that are incurred:

*People covering or filling in while the position is vacant;

*Lost productivity in the department;
*The manager's time to understand how the former employee's work will be completed;
*Training that the company invested in the lost employee;
* Lost knowledge, skills, and customer contacts;
*Paying the employee for the unproductive time between when they give notice and when they leave;
*Recruiting a replacement; and
*Training a new employee.


1. Identify Your Keepers.

Losing an ineffective or average performer is rarely a problem. But losing a highly effective performer is. The last thing you want to do is to take them for granted. You should identify strong performers, let them know that you value their work, and help them to envision a long-term career with your organization.

2. Recognize That Young Employees Are Experimenting.

What is the probability that a new young employee will stay with your company for many years? The truth is that it is very low. Young employees are just kicking the tires when they join an organization. They are still trying to figure out their interests and whether or not your organization can provide them with what they desire. Also, early in their career, their interests often change.

Astute managers recognize that good young employees are experimenting and trying to learn about themselves. Instead of just accepting the fact that the employee will probably leave to get experience elsewhere or to further their education, a good manager will work with that employee to help them do the experimenting within the company. They also will help the employee to see that if they want to further their education, the company can provide them with the time they need and perhaps even help pay for it.

3. Develop a Long-term Partnership With Keepers.

If organizations want their good employees to stay long term, then they need to develop a long-term partnership with them. Managers need to work with employees on a continuous basis to help them understand what they are seeking in their career and determine how they can achieve these goals by staying with the organization.


Seth is an example of a good employee that got away. His manager failed to identify Seth as a keeper and to work with him to help him achieve his career goals within the company. Don't let your keepers get away too!