How Important are Your Really Important Employees and How do You Keep Them?

Keeping really important employees

How Important are Your Really Important Employees and How do You Keep Them?

Similar to professional sports teams, in practically every corporate organization there are key players. They are identified by their ability to exceed expectations and provide innovative solutions to challenges. They are self-motivated, and very reliable. Often referred to as force multipliers, top performing employees are able to work independently as well as with other employees to produce high quality work consistently. You may be wondering just how much better your best employees really are. According to the Harvard Business Review, a top performer can deliver up to 400% more productivity than the average performer. In the HR world, it’s generally frowned upon to single out employees for any reason, good or bad. Treating everyone equally is virtually a credo in most companies. When it comes to those employees that are top performers in your organization, additional recognition and compensation is necessary to ensure that these people stay and continue to help grow your business. Neglecting to give these key players proper credit and acknowledgement for their performance can cause them to feel unappreciated and overlooked. This is consistently ranked in the top 5 reasons that employees choose to leave their jobs. In the current job market, almost all leading organizations are facing the problem of employee retention. Keeping employees is important; but keeping your best employees is an essential piece of running your business. What follows is part one of a two-part blog series that details some important ways you can make sure your top performers know you value them.

Provide them with Feedback

In many businesses, the biggest or most noticeable problems get attention, while those areas that are performing well are overlooked. Unfortunately this is the case with regard to employees as well. Problematic or underperforming employees often get the most attention. Employers inadvertently neglect their top performers because they are doing well, and wrongly assume that they don’t need feedback or recognition. A LinkedIn blog on the importance of employee feedback revealed that 69% of employees said they would work harder if they received some type of recognition. This really can be as simple as just a verbal compliment to the employee directly, or acknowledgement at a company event, or via a newsletter. It’s not just beneficial for the employee. It can do wonders for a business. The Gallup Organization revealed that individuals who receive consistent recognition and praise:

  • increase their individual productivity
  • increase engagement among their colleagues
  • are more likely to stay with their organization
  • receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers
  • have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job

Competitive Base Pay

While these force multipliers typically deliver 4 times the results, they are paid on average only about 20% more than average performers in the same role. Money isn’t everything, but it’s a big thing. According to a survey published in the Harvard Business Review, competitive compensation is the most valued element for employees.  Career Trends indicates that the current monthly cost of living for a single adult with no children in the U.S. is $2371.00. If a person feels as though they’re working only to survive and pay bills, they are less likely to feel fulfilled. If their salary allows them the occasional dinner out, or a moderate splurge, they’re more likely to value the position that affords them these things.  A study by ERE Media indicates that some 35% of employees will start looking for another job if they don’t receive a pay raise in the next 12 months. Think about this as it retains to the employee retention issue and remember that your organization would likely be very adversely affected by the loss of one or more of your key players.

Bonus or Performance-Based Rewards

Some organizations may opt for performance based rewards or bonuses as opposed to salary increases. While monetary compensation isn’t the only thing that motivates employees, it can be very effective when it is properly implemented. Bonuses are a fairly common form of reward because they can be easily disbursed based on individual performance. The dollar amounts can be assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the best performers are able to attain the largest bonuses. Other types of performance driven rewards including profit sharing and skills-based rewards are also According to Forbes, performance-based rewards can be an important contributor to organizational effectiveness because it motivates performance and productivity, and in the long run, can attract and retain the best performers.

Education Reimbursement

A 2013 Society for Human Resource Management study revealed that a little over 60% of employers provide some type of undergraduate tuition assistance benefit.  Much like professional athletes, keeping your highest performers at the top of their game will show your appreciation for their work and skills. A tuition assistance or reimbursement program can also foster employee retention because employees are typically required to stay with the organization while they are attending school, and often for a few years after graduation as a condition of the program. An added bonus to some type of continuing education program can also help ensure that you have a pool of skilled difference makers contributing to the success of your business.

To Promote, or Not to Promote

Besides the fact that everyone wants to be recognized for a job well done, promoting an employee to a management or supervisor position is a great way to nurture employee engagement, another key element to retention. According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, companies who prioritize employee engagement enjoy 26% greater annual increases in revenue. While a promotion is a very positive outcome for an employee, it is important to note that the promotion should be in-line with the employee’s interests and abilities. For example, a dynamic, high performing salesperson would most likely be repelled by the thought of pouring over spreadsheets all day. In order to continue to extract an employee’s greatest resources, it may make sense to keep them in the place where they shine the brightest. An alternative may be creating a position with them in mind that lets them continue to perform, but sets them apart from other employees by way of a salary increase. Most top performing employees are very self-assured, and therefore not preoccupied with titles for title’s sake. Show them you appreciate them in other ways and you’re more likely to earn their loyalty.

To wrap up this installment of this two part series on recognizing and retaining your best employees, it is more important now than ever to focus on employee retention. This is especially true when it comes to those force motivators in your organization that are helping your business to grow and innovate. In this very competitive job market, where qualified candidates are extremely hard to find, your best weapon is retention. It’s crucial for employers to recognize who their top performers are, and make sure that those individuals know that they are appreciated. Hiring and replacing employees is difficult and costly. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the average cost-per-hire for companies in 2016 was over $4,000. Because job boards like CareerBuilder and Indeed are no longer overflowing with viable candidates, it’s taking much more effort and creative alternative methods to find A-level talent to grow your business. Recruiters are being forced to “buy talent” by way of aggressive headhunting techniques. Another article from the Society for Human Resource Management says that the question of to build talent from within or to buy it is a useless debate in the 21st century. You have to do both, and then some, in order to stay ahead of hiring in today’s market.

Bradley Staffing Group is a full-service staffing firm based in Wayne, PA. We are committed to matching A-level talent with best-in-class businesses. Our knowledgeable and well-trained staff brings a combined 70+ years of staffing experience to our clients and candidates alike.


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