5 Types of Flight Risk Employees and How You Can Retain Them

BY Therese Pempeña Communication

5 Types of Flight Risk Employees and How You Can Retain Them

Whenever an employee leaves the company, people notice—no matter how hard you try to convince yourself otherwise. And people will talk about it. Some might even begin wondering if they should follow suit and start looking for better job opportunities somewhere else. Such employees are known as “flight risks.”

You can always argue that you are capable of recruiting equally competent candidates to replace them, but the cost and time you spend doing so should give you pause. Wouldn’t it be better to retain your top performers instead? 

Whether you’re in charge of a large workforce or a smaller team, having measures to predict who may want to leave the company is essential to a good employee retention plan. 

Types of Flight Risk Employees

Employees Paid Below Market/Below Their Peers

There are many justifiable reasons for pay differences between employees, but when the pay gap is stark, underpaid workers in the same position, at the same level of performance will take notice. And because they’re not getting a fair deal, they will leave.

Employees Who Think Their Pay Is Low

Up to 80 percent of employees actually think that they are paid at or below market because they don’t understand how their pay is determined [1]. So it’s possible that your high-achievers who have just received pay bumps still feel undervalued. 

Employees Who Feel Like They’re Stuck

Workers who are already proficient at their jobs crave a challenge [2]. Without opportunities to upskill or advance their career, they will feel like they are stuck in their current roles and might start seeking jobs that provide learning opportunities. 

Employees Who Recently Changed Roles

Giving promotions isn’t always a guarantee that employees will stay [3]. But if your workers are interested, motivated and passionate about what they do, they will be happy to remain in their current role even without a pay bump.

Employees Who Went Through Major Life Changes

Big life events such as childbirth, marriage, divorce, loss of a loved one or severe illness can change one’s attitude about their work. If they feel like the work environment isn’t healthy enough to allow them to care for themselves, they will eventually go.

Convincing Employees to Stay

Exit interviews are conducted to learn why employees are leaving. But by then, it might already be too late to change their minds. To keep turnover rates down and retention rates high, HR needs to take a more proactive approach. Learn to identify flight risk employees and invite them to stay interviews.

A stay interview is defined as a “structured conversation, often between a manager and employee, designed to find out how things are going, what pain points the employee is experiencing and what motivates the employee.” [4] Knowing these factors will help you address the issues and convince employees to stay more effectively.


[1] Most People Have No Idea Whether They’re Paid Fairly, Harvard Busines Review 

[2] How to Identify Flight-Risk Employees, HR Technologist

[3] Flight Risk? Stay Interviews Can Alert Managers, HR Bartender

[4] How HR Can Master the Art and Science of Stay Interviews, HR Drive

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