Will your best talent leave after they get their bonus ?

Written by Guest Author, Beth Todd, Esq.

If you’ve wondered whether your key players will leave after receiving their bonuses, you’re not alone. Many partners and managers have the same question running through their minds and for good reason.  Even your happiest and most loyal employees will use evaluation and ringing in the new year as a time to assess their career goals and whether they are on their intended paths.  Here are some strategies for ensuring you retain your employees after you’ve paid them a sizeable amount of money for a job well done.

One way, but not the only or necessarily the best way, to keep your talent is to pay them well.  Like it or not, money talks to some people.  However, many more people are motivated less by money and more by other factors such as career advancement opportunities, autonomy, responsibility, interesting work, appreciation, support, and cultural fit.  The challenging part, is that not everyone is motivated by the same thing.  What keeps someone at your firm or company isn’t necessarily the same thing that keeps someone else there.  Listening to and getting to know your employees wants and goals and then responding to them, is a good way to keep your employees engaged and working with your company.

Identify your top players and let them know that they have been tapped as leaders for your company or firm.  Develop a satisfaction evaluation and personal career plan that you sit down and go over with them every quarter, 6 months or at the very least yearly.  Use this plan to have an open discussion about their happiness and whether they are meeting their professional goals.  Be candid.  Tell them that you don’t want them to leave, you appreciate them, and you want to make sure you’re doing the very best you can to realize their potential.  Also, ask them where they stand in terms of looking around.  Let them know that if there are any issues and they are thinking of leaving for a competitor, that you want them to come to you first.  Then take action on the plan and identify opportunities for your employees to achieve their goals.

If you don’t already have a system like this in place, that’s okay.  Let your top players know today that they are valued and that you want to do whatever you can to make them happy.  That appreciation may be the difference maker this bonus season.  Then, you can work on setting up a long-term plan for open feedback in the new year.


Beth Todd is a former practice attorney and now owner of Todd Legal Search, Inc., an Access Talent Strategic business partner