North American employees are now twice as likely as before the recession to head for the door, according to the latest findings of the global consulting firm BlessingWhite. Nineteen percent of high performers who scored low on job satisfaction plan to leave their company. Another 48 percent are noncommittal, saying they will “probably” stay.

“The objective is to minimize the undesirable turnover and actively engage those employees who are on the fence,” said Christopher Rice, president and CEO of Blessing White. “Individuals who are thinking about greener pastures aren’t engaged and they’re not productive.”

To survive difficult times, some organizations have had to cut staff. The remaining employees have been asked to do more with fewer resources. High transaction businesses, like collection agencies, can be more susceptible to burnout and a feeling among high performers that they are under-challenged and overworked. When some of the higher performing employees believe they have other employment options, their current employers could be at risk of losing them, unless they are actively working to retain them.

During difficult economic times, when it is an employer’s market, it is easy for companies to get complacent about unwanted turnover because it is not as high, but this is the very time to create growth opportunities and challenge higher performers.

Remember the basics. People are more motivated when they feel supported, valued and are doing meaningful work. I have found it beneficial to talk to the high performers to understand what they want and what is important to them. Sometimes the discussion has led to an increased role in their department with training, or reporting on the success/opportunities of the department. Sometimes the discussions led to the employee’s increased access to resources or technology to better support them in their current role.

The discussions always provided the employee with specific feedback about their individual contribution and value to the organization and our clients. It was also an opportunity to connect the work the employee did to the overall vision of the organization. Companies have numerous opportunities to help employees see the value of what they do.

Seeing the impact of these discussions, we increased the frequency with our top performers. Whether it was soliciting their input, or providing them input, we wanted to take multiple opportunities to convey the message they were important. If you look at surveys of the most productive people, the most important reason for their sustained productivity is that someone in management demonstrated an interest in them.

It’s not complex work, just difficult. It is easy during difficult economics to focus more on what we need to limit in order to survive. Clearly, the survivor mentality has its value; however, we are better served by spending more time and energy on creating possibilities. This includes investing in our best people.