Anticipatory retention strategies are proactive approaches to retaining your employees before they begin looking for greener pastures at competitor companies.  Read below to see how you can retain your treasured human assets!

Written by

Written by

Karan Rhodes

As I read Aaron Hurst’s LinkedIn post on how employers should reaffirm their purpose during these emotionally-charged political times, I thought about anticipatory retention strategies for the professionals in my own area of expertise – high potential leaders (HIPOs).

Aaron’s post generated tons of polarizing comments, many of whom questioned the appropriateness of his post for LinkedIn. My guess is that Aaron wanted to start a conversation about his own world view, and at a minimum, he did just that. However, (and a big miss in my opinion) he did not acknowledge the existence of other world views, which sparked a ton of angry commentary.

Now, I am part of the “old school” belief of separating politics from the workplace. I do respect everyone’s right to their perspectives – perspectives which are commonly tied deeply to their values, upbringing and personal worldviews. I may not agree with your political stances but I am always curious to know more about your reasoning. However, for this Gen X-er, I typically only engage those types of conversations outside of work and in forums where openness, inclusion, and acceptance to hear a diversity of perspectives is pre-established. And rarely does that occur in the workplace without hidden biases and repercussions.


I work with many companies across the world on their high potential leadership development programs, and in approximately 90% of the HIPO programs, the participants are diverse in demographics, background and perspectives. Employers should remember that their high potential leaders are also human. They experience a variety of emotions from world events, just as we all do, and it is important for employers to acknowledge that sometimes the emotions of their HIPOs may temporarily impact their work performance.


Anticipatory retention strategies are proactive approaches to retaining your employees. Instead of waiting for problems to fester or occur, a company that implements anticipatory retention strategies can eliminate their top employees looking for greener pastures at competitor companies. An example of an anticipatory retention strategy is a corporate executive meeting with an entire department after the firing of their current manager to explain the change and the next steps of the transition to a new leader.




It may be helpful to remember these 4 anticipatory retention strategies to use with your high potential leaders during emotionally charged times:

  • Reaffirm Value: Reaffirming your HIPO’s value to the organization is an important retention strategy, no matter the current environment. Continue to encourage them to strive to be their best and to remain at the top of their game. Be sure to connect their contributions to the long-term success of the organization.
  • Reaffirm Organizational Commitment: Remind your high potentials that no matter the world environment, the business is committed to continue operations. Acknowledge that tweaks to how one works may have to be made, but that change is a constant factor in the world of work. Consider appointing a trusted advisor or mentor for your HIPO, with whom they can speak privately, to provide additional professional support.
  • Reaffirm Healthy Work/Life Balance: Work/Life balance means different things to different people. Encourage your high potentials to put into action whatever work/life balance means for them. For example, spending time with family or friends, meditating, exercising, taking in a concert, etc. Also remind them of any employer-sponsored support, such as Employee Assistance Programs or community volunteer activities.
  • Reaffirm Active Listening: Active listening involves giving dedicated time to your HIPO, with the purpose of listening without interruption to whatever is top of mind for them. Set expectations upfront that you are curious as to their current thoughts, ideas, priorities and/or feedback that they want to share. As you respond to their comments, try to under promise but over deliver their expectations. Trust and loyalty is built through relationships and relationships grow deeper through joint experiences and promises kept.

By incorporating these 4 anticipatory retention strategies into your conversations with your HIPOs, there is a greater chance that you will increase the loyalty and engagement of these most valued leaders – the very ones who you are counting on to lead your organization for years to come.