Sept. 10, 2013 – High-potential employees – or those workers that companies have designated as their future leaders – are a growing source of high anxiety for employers, according to OI Partners.

Employers are more anxious about losing high-potentials than any other employees. High-potentials are being targeted by other companies in their search for talent in a recovering job market. They have had a high turnover rate during the past year and are considered by employers to be their greatest flight risk, or most in danger of quitting for other jobs, according to surveys by OI Partners, a leading global outplacement, executive coaching and leadership development firm.

In addition, while high-potentials are considered to be an important source of a company’s future management, many employers report they do not have enough of them on board, according to the surveys.

– Worried: Employers are more anxious about losing high-potentials than any other workers. 78% of companies are concerned about high-potentials quitting.

– Turnover: High-potentials have the second-highest turnover rate of all organizational levels. 34% of employers reported an increase in departures of high-potentials in the past year, right behind 51% that reported higher turnover for front-line workers.

– Future Flight Risk: Almost half (48%) of employers consider high-potentials as their greatest flight risk, particularly as the economy improves and “portability” for key functions continues to grow

– Loss of Future Leaders: About half (49%) of companies regard high-potentials as their biggest source of future leaders. Yet, about one of four employers (37%) report they do not currently have enough high-potentials on board.

What’s an employer to do to ease anxiety over this possible loss of high-potential talent?

The top ways that companies are trying to retain high-potential employees are:

  1. Developmental coaching (55%)
  2. Better compensation and benefits (47%)
  3. Flexible hours and schedules (45%)
  4. Mentoring programs (40%)
  5. Tuition reimbursement (37%)
  6. Casual dress codes (24%)
  7. Telecommuting (22%)
  8. Retention bonuses (10%)

The data is based on OI Partners surveys of 547 employers in the past two years.

“Offering coaching to high-potential employees ensures they will progress into the types of leaders employers want and need. Coaching sharpens their leadership skills and polishes their management and interpersonal skills. Coaching also helps high-potentials become better bosses, which improves the retention of their subordinates,” said Patty Prosser, chair of OI Partners.

Executive coaching is a powerful retention tool because it signals to high-potentials that employers are committed to their career development. “Receiving personalized, laser-focused coaching on specific leadership and communication skills is highly valued by high-potentials in the Gen X and Gen Y generations. Many in these generations are willing to go above and beyond in their career pursuits, but don’t always understand the political ramifications of their actions,” added Prosser.

OI Partners has found that in addition to coaching high-potentials, many companies are embracing the importance of offering guidance to senior leaders on how to better identify and then mentor high-potentials.

OI Partners recommends that companies be pro-active in touching base with their high-potentials, not just in the senior management ranks, but also in middle management. “Providing these employees an opportunity to discuss their career aspirations and insights allows companies to better tailor ways to demonstrate that they are important to them,” said Prosser.

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