There are many reasons employees choose to move on from their current company. Perhaps they feel unchallenged, their values don’t align, they want to try a new role or industry, or they need a raise to compensate for life changes.

When it is one of your star employees, however, their leaving can hurt—especially if you cannot currently offer a raise or other monetary compensation to influence them to stay.

If you are hoping to retain this person, though, you do have other options. You could consider rewards like additional time off or flexibility in their workday, opportunities to learn or lead, or trying entirely new roles and responsibilities.

But remember, you do not have the best ideas on how to keep a great employee—your employee does. It is your job as a leader to engage the employee and understand the underlying problems and opportunities. Consider these five methods uncover why your star employee might want to leave and how to influence them to stay—even when you don’t have the funds to offer a raise. 

Have a candid conversation. This is crucial to understanding why an employee is considering moving on from the company. Perhaps there is a life event pressing them to seek a raise—a new baby on the way or they just purchased a house. Having these candid conversations will not only help the employee feel seen and understood but will allow you as a leader to know what solutions could influence this employee to stay.

Offer a role that includes commission pay. This person is seeking other ways to generate revenue. Consider if there is a role or project you can offer the employee that includes commission pay. In that case, they are earning the same salary but would be exposed to opportunities to earn more money through sales, customer service or other commissions. In a way, it’s like a side hustle within the organization—they are still contributing to and growing within the company while meeting their personal financial goals.

Prepare them for a future promotion. While you may not be ready to offer them a promotion and raise just yet, you could offer an interim promotion in which they begin learning skills to prepare for a new role. This would keep the employee engaged and content knowing a raise is coming while allowing you the time to examine budgets and find the funds to offer them a raise in the next year.

Make your company a great place to work. If your company has the right environment and culture, star employees will be more willing to stay. Build an excellent team around the high performers so that they feel they are challenged and growing within the company. There is nothing worse than feeling you are in a dead-end role surrounded by colleagues who don’t match your talents.

Be authentic. Especially in your conversations with the employee, you need to be human and authentic. If they know you are making triple figures while they and their colleagues are making only $40 or $50k, and you tell them that there is no money for a raise, how do you think they will feel? However, if you say you’ll find a way to get them that raise, you’ll show your authenticity and consideration for their needs. After all, it’s your star employees who give you the merit for that triple-figure salary.

No matter the eventual solution, if you are candid, authentic, listen to your employee, and promote a healthy and challenging working environment for them, you will show that you genuinely care about whether they stay or go. Be aware that your other employees will take note of how you handle this situation as well—if your star employee takes another offer and you did nothing to help them stay, other employees may begin to wonder if they should look elsewhere too.

Get more tips to encourage your star employees to stay from The Complete Leader’s Ask a Coach web series. 

Header photo by Kindel Media via Pexels.