Your star employee is threatening to quit. Now what? A list of her demands are on your desk, including a nice raise in salary. Most companies would bend to the will of this employee because she’s just that—your star employee. You can’t imagine losing her, but then you think, what is it about her makes you want to keep her around? When an employee throws a list of demands at you and it’s all about the money or the extra parking spot, has she lost her passion? Is she the same employee you hired five or ten years ago?

Understanding key characteristics in your star employee will give you the ability to answer the questions, and to determine whether to offer a counter offer or not. You need to know if this employee still has the following:

Passion

First and foremost, it’s important for your star employees to have passion—not only for your product and your industry, but also for your company. When it becomes only about the perks and money it’s likely that your employee has shifted to loving her paycheck rather than her work. In order to foster innovation, you need employees that have passion for your company. This can be extremely hard to find if you’re not looking in the right places, and paying someone off won’t instantly rejuvenate his or her attitude at work.

Ambition

Is the employee in question constantly going above and beyond her work duties or is she just skating by day after day, getting the tasks she needs to get done in order to survive? To be successful in business, you need employees who go above and beyond their normal job requirements and put the kind of effort in that boosts profits and the company as a whole.

Dedication

Are there signs of dedication? Research shows that once a counter-offer is accepted, the employee is still a passive candidate. What shows you that she’s an individual who’s dedicated to your company and its overall vision? If you don’t see dedication in your employee, it’s time to let her go and move onto bigger and better things.

Not only are there characteristics about employees that might make you want to rethink giving into their demands, but there are a few employee retention warning signs you should be aware of. These include:

You have someone already in mind to fill his or her position

A good HR department has a pipeline full of new and eager candidates wanting an opportunity to work for your company. Sometimes hiring new, more passionate people is a reason to let go of your star employee and start training the next one.

Hire someone less experienced, for less

It happens all the time and maybe if you’re not paying fairly or you can’t afford your star employee any longer, it may be time to pay someone new and fresh for less and mold him or her into your next star employee. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but sometimes companies have to make tough decisions in order to stay afloat in a competitive market.

Whether you see a lack of certain characteristics in your star employee or you have other routes you can take when he or she throws a list of demands at you, it’s important to consider the overall impact losing an employee of such caliber will have on your company. If you can afford to lose them, by all means do so, but sometimes a good engineer or marketer will make or break your company’s overall strategy and goals.

Have you ever rejected a counter offer from an existing employee? Why?

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter. She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS. Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.

4 Comments

  • Avatar Chris Miller says:

    A good employee will never be a star without having passion. I really appreciate people that are dedicated to their work – they make work seem easy. I totally agree that it may be difficult to lose a good employee, but an employer should consider both the advantages and the disadvantages. From my point of view, to make the right decision, employers should analyze whether the employee’s requirements are justified and can be satisfied; if not, then they should go for the next one.

  • Avatar Sophia Baker says:

    I don’t believe in this concept of “star employees” that work for the company because of passion and dedication. Let’s be honest, everyone is working for money and perks. These are things that motivate people to work for others. If an employee is motivated enough by his or her employers, he or she will work with more dedication because of the desire to keep his or her perks. Nowadays, companies are making changes quickly, and there are many other people who are well prepared and waiting for an opportunity.

  • Avatar Holli Evans says:

    I have to admit that I have rejected many counteroffers from my employees. I greatly appreciate the work of my employees, and I use that to reward their achievements. Because I have a small business, I have the opportunity to know my employees very well, and I hate when they want to take advantage of my kindness and threaten to quit. Sometimes they give me unreasonable demands, and I always tell them that no one is irreplaceable and that they are free to leave.

  • Avatar Ravi Shankar Panchagnula says:

    I completely agree with Holli, Sophia and Chris. With my 19 years of experience, I would leave the employee go than trying to do a turnaround and hold him, as I strongly feel that the relationship had a crack the moment the employee started to look out for a new job. You may be successful in doing a turnaround and retain the employee, but the team members try to do the same and at a point of time you end up paying more than the allocated budget and there is always a parallel threat that they would show their new package to another company and bargain for more pay and obviously the poaching company would go extra mile to attract the new employee. I personally saw couple of employees playing this trick of salary with existing and the new company. Presently if someone comes to me with offer letters of various companies, I would let him/her go than trying to hold and have my backup plans to run the show.

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