Madeline has been a stellar employee from day one. She’s extremely productive, professional, and a joy to work with. After her last – and only – promotion two years ago, she’s received competitive bonuses and consistent raises which has now placed her near the top of her pay scale. You’re not sure what to do as she is at the top of her field, and no positions above her that she’s qualified for. You’re afraid to lose her but not sure how to keep her motivated. What options do you have?
“High Performers” – those employees who are at the top of their game – can be a blessing and a curse. While they can be depended on for consistent great performance, if someone suddenly leaves for greener, more exciting pastures, you can be left with a gaping hole in your team.
Even the most dedicated of employees may find themselves in a bit of a rut. What started out as a challenging position can just become business-as-usual after a while. Continuing to find ways to keep their jobs interesting, their compensation competitive as well as looking for new kinds of challenges to keep their creative juices flowing may just help them stick around.
Okay, so we have compensation worked out… now what?
Pay isn’t the only thing that makes work rewarding for employees. For example, no employees, no matter how dependable and star-like, should be taken for granted. Employers may be tempted to let stop some interactions – like one-to-one meetings, praise and recognition, or development opportunities – thinking this will demonstrate to their employees the confidence they have in them. This can be a mistake, though, as “no news” may not be good news for someone who thrives on feedback and collaboration, and he or she might start to feel neglected.
Here are some suggestions on ways to possibly keep those employees who continue to impress from falling through the cracks and give them something new to consider:
Regular Meet and Greets – A superstar employee needs feedback and regular face-to-face time as much as anyone else, and it is a great opportunity to conduct periodic “stay interviews.” Waiting for an exit interview to ask what you could have done to keep an employee is too little, too late. Review their position descriptions together periodically to see if anything has shifted in the last six months or if there is so much bureaucracy that even though performance hasn’t suffered, it is recently been a lot more difficult to get anything done. Find out what roadblocks you can clear and what gets them up in the morning. You may never know unless you ask.
Flex it! – Today’s technology, which will only get better with each passing day, allows for all kinds of remote meetings and work activities. If a high performer broaches the subject of working from home a couple of days a week, don’t dismiss it out of hand if it typically just hasn’t been done in the past. Employees who are good with deadlines and follow-through, which HPs are, are ideal candidates to test drive a partially remote workforce. Skipping the commute two days a week may give them just the flexibility they were craving that may have led them elsewhere if a recruiter came calling.
Tap into hidden talents and interests – Did you know that one of your employees speaks Spanish? Or that one has a penchant for photography? Or throws fantastic parties? And imagine your surprise to learn that still another is a fundraising dynamo outside of work. Getting to know the hobbies and passions of your employees can be a great way to allow them to shine in other ways at the office and get excited about the thought of applying their passions in a different type of role or project while still excelling at the one they were hired to do.
Change it up – Has the employee mentioned an interest in learning about a different aspect of the business? An accounting professional may appreciate the chance to tag along on a trade show to see how the marketing team works to bring in new business or rotate into a recently-formed team responsible for solving a unique project. Someone unexpected volunteers to head up – or introduce – a “bring your children to work” event, internship program or company newsletter? Let him or her! New projects to tackle can create a whole new outlook on the work day.
Outside the box – Some companies shy away from sending their employees to job-related seminars and conferences, citing an expense on which they may see little return. These sorts of activities, though, can re-energize employees, allowing them to network with peers and keep up with new advancements and ideas that may well help them do their jobs even better. To make such an event more meaningful, ask employees who attend to summarize what they have learned – and how it will help them make changes to their current work – in a short presentation to the management team.
Mentoring opportunities – An employee with 25 years of experience who heads up a thriving department may welcome an opportunity to act as a guide or mentor to someone who is closer to the beginning of a career. Either through a formal program or just a lunch date every month, employees can pass on their expertise to someone who is ready and willing to learn. Is there a program that allows them to volunteer as a consultant in their field to a local school or organization? It’s a great way to let them lend their expertise outside of the office.
Yes, one of your superstars may still leave. Sometimes an opportunity arises they simply cannot pass up. It might be a job that moves them closer to extended family, a position in a company they’ve had their eye on for some time, or a place that gives them the opportunity to apply their skill set to a different industry all together. But remember that:
Employees who feel appreciated and rewarded for their hard work and who are ALSO offered interesting growth and work opportunities are employees who may find it much harder to move on.
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