Hiring exceptional talent is something that can happen in a jiffy. You spot talent, you make them an offer and if they are interested, they agree right away.
But what about retaining top talent? Is it as easy as a hiring top talent?
To answer bluntly: no.
Retaining top talent means treading a delicate balance between protecting your investment and pushing them to do quality work. You need to invest in the means to keep them happy, but you also need to keep them engaged and motivated.
Employees who regularly do quality work already go above and beyond what is expected of them. And while this means that they can be highly engaged, this also means that they can burn out faster or lose motivation quicker than the others.
Employees should be rewarded on the basis of their contributions
Sometimes companies compensate all employees the same way, irrespective of their performance, thinking that they are being fair. Here’s what they are actually doing. They are rewarding poor employees for poor performance and they are telling top employees that no matter how hard they are going to work, they aren’t going to be compensated the same way. This is a recipe for disaster and is going to drive away top employees faster than you can snap your fingers.
What you need to do is acknowledge your top performers and compensate them accordingly. Exemplary work deserves exemplary recognition. Besides, you need to set an example for the others as well. When good work is compensated, you set an example for others as well and let them know that good work is going to be rewarded and that rewards are not based on nepotism or other annoying factors.
Challenge them by throwing them to the wolves
By throwing them to the wolves, I do not mean you should literally toss them into dangerous situations. However, high-performing employees need to be challenged regularly. Otherwise, their performance is quickly going to peter off. Do not coddle high-performing employees (or any employee for that matter) because it is the last thing they need. Instead, give them opportunities to work on projects that require them to grow and adapt quickly.
Communicate regularly with them
Do not make the mistake of assuming that top employees know exactly what they are doing and do not need guidance. They know what they are doing to a certain extent. However, everybody benefits from guidance. And if even do not need guidance, it is crucial for managers to main open communication lines with top employees, even if all they are doing is acting as a sounding board. Lack of communication fells many things, including engagement and motivation.
Even in lean times, give them perks
No matter what the current financial state of your organization is, you cannot skip out on rewarding and recognizing your best employees. If it happens once or twice, your employees will understand. But if it becomes a regular thing, you cannot expect your employees to continue being understanding. Even recognition will only take you so far. When your employees see other organizations making lucrative offers, they will move on. The moral of the story is this: reward and recognize your employees even during lean times and especially during lean times. They need to know that they are a valuable addition to the organization. After all, it is easier to let go off bad employees than it is to lose a truly great one.
Create a sense of community
At the end of the day, an organization is a giant team of people who are working towards a common goal. Top performers aren’t going to want to be a part of an organization where success is not a team effort. If they notice that they are the only ones pulling their weight and burning the midnight oil, while the rest of the team coasts by or works divisively, then I assure you, they will take their talents elsewhere. A positive work environment is one where employees feel like they all contribute to the bigger picture. That is how engagement is driven.
Make it easy for them to do their job
Doing your job is easy when there are no obstacles preventing you from doing a good job. What counts as an obstacle though? Certain obstacles that can severely hinder productivity are poor or inefficient software, outdated technology, endless bureaucratic restrictions, unnecessarily strict rules and so on and so forth. All of these factors make it hard for employees to do their jobs and especially top performers. If a top employee feels that the environment they work in hinders them from doing their job or decreases their productivity, they might resort to extreme measures to deal with it or even worse, they will look for another organization that has exactly what they are looking for.
Retaining top performers can be done as long as organizations make the effort to invest in their employees. The moment you stop acknowledging star performers and treat them as expendables, that’s when you begin to lose them! If you have any thoughts on how you like to retain top performers, share them with us in the comments section!
Engagedly is a performance management application with elements of employee engagement. If you are interested in improving engagement at your organization and building a sense of community, request a demo!