Valuing your key employees

by Joshua Montanez ([email protected]) 179 views 

These past few years have come with many changes to the business landscape. Successful businesses are learning to adapt with workplace trends like the Great Resignation.

The two keys to success in retaining high-level employees come down to culture and unique benefits customized to their employees’ wants.

As a financial planner who has spent time helping business owners create retention strategies, below are a few key considerations.

WHERE TO START? OBSERVE & ASK
We encourage you to start by observing who in the business are your key employees. Is it your CFO? Is it your sales lead? Once you identify the key employees, the next part is to ask. We’d recommend starting with questions such as “Are there any pain points in your life personally?” or “What’s on your mind these days?” You may get answers like “I’m not excited about working back in the office” or “I’m worried about starting student loan payments in January.”

KEY EMPLOYEE-TAILORED BENEFITS
Creating tailored benefits is an excellent opportunity to show your key employees that you value them professionally and personally. Are student loans a concern? Consider structuring an employer-paid student loan payment plan through annual bonuses specific for matching the employee’s contributions.

What if education planning is essential or daycare costs are weighing on them? You could subsidize saving into a 529 for their children or pay for a portion of their daycare.

GOLDEN HANDCUFF STRATEGIES
One of the most popular key employee retention tools is golden handcuff strategies. Companies can offer these unique deferred compensation strategies to any employee they would like to retain for an extended period.

Joshua Montanez

Golden handcuffs come in many forms, such as future bonuses, pensions and employee stock options. Other golden handcuff strategies could involve buying a car, flexible working hours or paid benefits into retirement.

KEY EMPLOYEE LIFE INSURANCE & DISABILITY INSURANCE
While working to retain key employees, you can’t forget the business risk of a critical employee passing away or becoming disabled. The time it takes to hire, train and restructure the business to adapt to new hires could be detrimental to a business’ financials. Even worse if the key employee is an owner of the company. We often recommend not just focusing on the risk of losing top talent to competitors but also on unforeseen life events.

CULTURE
The key to retaining your most valuable employees may just come down to their environment and the culture surrounding them every day. That often comes back to my first point: observe and ask. Take time to gain an understanding of what your employees value. It is crucial to building a culture around respect and inclusiveness.

Top talent wants to work with a business that makes them feel heard. They want to feel that their company has their back. If you find employees spending time working with specific nonprofit organizations, find a way to create a benefit that allows for paid time to volunteer. If you have employees who are new mothers, make a private lactation room that they feel comfortable and safe using.

Whichever strategies you take to retain and protect your key employees, take time to observe, ask and implement. The ultimate result is a motivated workplace that will allow you to build and retain what makes your company great — your people.

Joshua Montanez is his team’s lead wealth management advisor at Northwestern Mutual in Fayetteville. They work with businesses and individual families to create unique and strategic financial plans. To learn more, visit montanezfinancial.com. Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. and its subsidiaries. The opinions expressed are those of the author