It's not just what happens at work that makes employees quit their jobs. Research from CEB shared in the Harvard Business Review shows significant job hunting spikes on work anniversaries, big mid-life birthdays, and high school reunions. When leaders are aware of these dates, they can preempt their top talent from quitting.

• Class reunions: job hunting increases 16 percent
• Big birthdays like 40 and 50 - job hunting increases 12 percent
• Work anniversary - job hunting increases 9 percent

This goes to show that the old saying "to compare is to despair" is true. When employees compare themselves to others or where they thought they would have been by this point in their career, it can cause personal turmoil. Then they disengage and begin searching for another job.

The good news is that leaders can use these dates to their advantage in retaining their top talent. Here are five simple actions you can take to reduce the likelihood of job hunting on these days.

1. Get the big dates on the radar

Your human resource team probably already has at least some of these dates. They are all dates that organizations can use to monitor and develop a preemptive strategy.

2. Utilize an internal recruiter

The same HBR article referenced above mentions that Credit Suisse proactively identifies employees who are at risk of quitting, then use an internal recruiter to cold-call the employees to alert them to openings inside the company. The company reports this strategy has reduced turnover 1 percent and saved them $75 million to $100 million in rehiring and training costs.

3. Build on their momentum

If your employee is naturally reflective at this time, invite the individual to discuss their personal career goals. They may have new insights into areas where they would like to develop.

4. Broaden your appreciation program

Often company appreciation tools are built around achievements but not life milestones where employees are more likely to be in the comparative mindset. Try acknowledging these dates as well in a enjoyable, positive way.

5. Highlight progress instead of time

Use these dates to acknowledge more than just "time" spent at your organization. Focus on employee achievements and progress made on big projects. This adds a layer of meaning and purpose to their work contribution.

Now choose one or more of the five strategies above and try it in your organization today to increase employee engagement and decrease the cost of turnover.