Dear High Potential Manager by title/wanna be leader: I wish you would walk out of your office and have regular conversations with your people about their happiness at work. Do this and your people will respect you more than any pay raise you can give them. It will show them your selfless side and make them believe that your main concern is not to get yourself promoted.
Dear High Potential Employee/Disengaged Star: You are not innocent in the retention debacle. My wish for you is that when you are not happy at work, that you grow some balls and have a conversation with your manager about your career concerns. At a minimum, tell HR. But don’t whine about it with the wrong people.
Imagine if employees and managers talked about their careers the same way a happily married couple talked about their marriage, open and honest. Imagine that before an employee accepts that green grass opportunity across the street that he/she had already talked through their career concerns and/or desires with their manager. Imagine that when they did tell their manager, he/she would get a straight forward response, no matter how good or bad the response sounds.
So, why does it have to be such a secret when an employee is looking for another job? IDK… But if managers and employees feel secure about the psychological employment contract between them, then they should feel more open to have these conversations. Back to the marriage example. If you are confident about your marriage, then you are confident that you are behaving in the right way. You do not have to spend your time worrying about your spouse’s commitment level or wondering if they will find a better offer at the Playboy Mansion.
I hear hiring levels are increasing and people are looking to see if the grass is greener. In some cases it will be and I wish anyone who finds it, the best of luck. But I also wish that if you are thinking of leaving overnight, that you at least have the conversation with your manager about your unhappiness. Do not give them the ultimatum (i.e., promote me or I leave). Just tell them why you are not happy and see if they honestly respond. Finally, and if your counting, this will be my third marriage example to illustrate my point. Lets say your spouse continually did or did not do something that pissed you off (i.e., pick up dog poop or dishes, whatever). Instead of having a conversation about it, you just leave overnight. You leave them wondering what the hell happened. Does that sound like a reasonable way to handle your concerns? No.
This is my retention strategy. No money involved. Just talk more. There is always room for more communication between two people.