developing and retaining high potential employees
Employee Development
Employee Training
Company Culture
July 26, 2022

Developing & retaining high-potential employees

High-potential employees are 91% more valuable to an organisation than non-high-potential workers.

Yet, many businesses struggle with how to effectively identify, develop and retain this high-potential talent. 

Nearly 89% of bosses believe their employees quit because they want more money. But only 12% of employees who leave their job say salary is a deciding factor. 

The reasons for high-potential employees leaving your organisation go much deeper than pay.

So let’s take a look at how you can identify high-potential employees —- and how you can hold onto them.


How to identify high-potential employees

How to develop high-potential employees to retain talent

Provide meaningful mentorship

Invest in their professional development

Offer benefits that actually matter

Give them an opportunity to lead

Create connection – to peers and to company culture

The best tool for HIPO development

How to identify high-potential employees

Let’s start by establishing what we mean by high-potential employees.

These members of staff are great at their current jobs. But they show signs of being able to do more.

High-potential employees (or HIPOs as they’re sometimes known) tend to demonstrate the following characteristics and behaviours:

Initiative and self-sufficiency

Collaborative team working

Strong communication skills

Leadership abilities

A clear understanding of company culture

Willingness to take on responsibilities beyond their job description

Consistently productive and efficient

Basically, these are the employees whom you can imagine thriving in a more senior role.

Managers should always be on the lookout for team members with the potential to do great things within your organisation.

And — once they’ve identified them — they should be empowered to support those individuals, developing their skills and providing incentives that encourage them to stay with your company.  

How to develop high-potential employees to retain talent

So what can you do to encourage high-potential employees to stick with your organisation long-term? Simply offering a regular pay rise isn’t the answer.

Instead, you have to focus on giving HIPOs the development opportunities, perks and working environment they crave.  

Provide meaningful mentorship

Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs. Oprah Winfrey had Maya Angelou. Harry Potter had Dumbledore.

Mentors really can make a big difference in the development and success of their mentees. There’s a reason why 70% of Fortune 500 companies use mentorship as part of their talent strategy.

Research shows that mentorship leads to better staff motivation, engagement – and retention.

As it happens, you stand a better chance of holding on to both mentors and mentees, when compared with team members who don’t participate.

Mentorship influences how your high-potential employees feel about your company.

It also gives them the guidance and feedback they need to develop skills and forge career paths according to their ambitions.

Invest in their professional development

Unless you’re playing a particularly competitive game of musical statues, you probably don’t like standing still.

This is definitely true of your top talent. HIPOs want to learn new skills. They want to make progress in their lives and in their work.

The best bit for employers who respond to this desire? Development fuels retention.

76% of employees say that they are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous development opportunities.

So provide valuable, tailored training. Ask your employees what they would find useful.

Then help them to develop the skills they need to be more effective in their current role – and the skills they’ll need to progress to more senior roles within the company.

Offer benefits that actually matter

Elon Musk may be insisting that employees spend a minimum of 40 hours each week in the office.

But —  judging from the backlash his comments have inspired — he’s something of an outlier, certainly within the tech community.

The best employers are holding onto their best talent by giving them the benefits that they actually care about.

We’re talking:

Flexible and remote working

A decent annual leave allowance

Continuous professional development

Up-to-date tech solutions

Availability of mental health support

An open and collaborative company culture

This list may send a shiver down the spine of more traditional employers.

But, with the current war for talent raging, you have to maintain an attractive package if you don’t want a line of high-potential employees jumping ship.

Give them an opportunity to lead

There’s no such thing as a born leader.

Great leadership takes time and practice. So why not give your high-potential employees the chance to flex their leadership muscles before they take on a real leadership role?

Giving them responsibility for a project or letting them test out their own new idea for the business, gives HIPOs the chance to hone their leadership skills.

This is an opportunity your high-potential employees will relish. And it’s good for business too.

Employees with good leadership skills — like communication, initiative and strategic thinking — help to drive your company forward.

Create connection — to peers and company culture

We may like to feel that we’re logical beings. But emotional connection really can’t be beaten.

We’re more likely to stick with a job when we’re part of a well-functioning, supportive team. And when we feel invested in the values of our workplace.

So establish how company purpose aligns with that of your high-potential employees. Ensure they’re aware of the bigger picture and how they factor in it.

And why not get a group of your company’s HIPOs together for development opportunities?

They can support and inspire each other, whilst developing valuable skills and building relationships that they call upon throughout their time with your company.

Initiatives like these make high-potential employees feel more integrated with and connected to your organisation — which again, is great for retention.

The best tool for HIPO development?

My Learning Hub is a learning management system that makes it easy for you to develop your high-potential employees — and track the ROI on your efforts.

You can create personalised learning pathways for your team and maintain their motivation with interactivity and gamification features.

Want to see what My Learning Hub can do for your L&D ambitions? Book a free demo today.

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