How to keep your top performing employees
"Don't let your profits walk out the door."
No matter what function they hold in your organization, top-performing employees are vital to the success of your business. Top performers are the employees who generate more sales, who make better decisions, who solve the difficult technical problems and who generally make life easier (and more profitable) for business owners.
You definitely don't want to lose these people, but the truth is, they are not only valuable to you. They are also the types of employees most likely to be stolen away by your competitors. And they are much more expensive to replace!
So how do you prevent them from taking the bait when headhunters start calling?
According to research, there are five primary reasons that make employees stay with employers long term:
Now that you know what your top performers are looking for, you need to learn how you can give it to them. Doing this may be easier than you think. Here are five guidelines to follow.
- Challenging and interesting work
- Opportunities to learn new skills and grow in their jobs
- Good relationships with co-workers
- Fair pay
- A great boss
- Talk to your employees.
While you may be nervous about the answer, the best way to find out what it will take for an employee to stay is to ask them outright. Once you've asked them, encourage them to list every factor that they can think of. It's rare that someone will say 'money' and stop there. Your real high performers are looking for growth, development and responsibility.
- Challenge your employees with goals.
Although a great boss is last on the list of what employees are looking for, it is primarily this person who can influence all of the other factors. Hence the need for good, effective management. In your position as a leader, you have the opportunity to set goals for your employees that help both of you realize a shared vision for the company. Ongoing discussion about these expectations will help to ensure that employees are inspired and positively motivated to work toward these goals.
- Don't micro-manage.
Top performers will rebel if you try to micro-manage them. Most top-performing employees need the flexibility and independence to make their own decisions. When businesses create a bureaucracy of rules and procedures which takes autonomy away from people, in time they create working environment where even though they say they respect people, they don't demonstrate that they trust them. And a lack of trust is a sure way to drive people away.
- Keep the lines of communication open.
As your company grows bigger, you must find ways to continue to communicate. Employees will start to feel separated from your business if they're hearing about major company changes through the grapevine, or reading about them in the newspaper, rather than getting it first-hand from their internal leaders. That means setting up a very efficient information flow from the top down, making sure that communication is accurate through each level. They should hear it from you first.
- Recognize the importance of your company culture.
Developing a company culture that top performers want to be involved in also is critical to retaining them. Employees will remain in a work environment where they feel they are contributing and building something that is bigger than them. Together with the team, get everyone to buy into and evolve that culture. The culture dictated from above becomes a meaningless mission statement. A culture that has benefits for the people in it, motivates and rewards everybody is what then drives your success.
Insightlink offers a variety of professional services that can help organizations both improve employee satisfaction and evaluate their reasons for leaving. Our services include:
- Insightlink's 4Cs Employee Survey - a comprehensive diagnostic tool to determine how your employees feel on all 4Cs of employee satisfaction: Communications, Culture, Commitment and Compensation.
- Insightlink's Exit Survey System - a powerful online exit survey management tool that provides survey results in real time and the ability to create aggregate summaries as needed.
Things to Do Now
Identify employees who bring the greatest value to your company.
Identify the risk of each of these key employees leaving the company or disengaging from their work.
Conduct informal meetings with your key employees to emphasize their value to your organization. Ask them what they consider most important (i.e., career growth, financial aspects, work-life balance). This will help you better understand their top motivations.
Develop a customized plan for each key employee to address their main concerns and to strengthen the employment relationship.