Organizations have retention policies to build a long-term association with their employees. These policies are more precise and meticulous for exceptionally talented people who go above and beyond to achieve personal and business goals. However, with cut-throat competition in the human capital market, HR and organizational leaders face the persistent challenge of holding on to them. They strive to find the answer to a pressing question - how to retain high-performing employees for a long time.
This article demystifies the dilemma of recruiting, managing and retaining high-performing employees in your organization.
What do we mean by a high-performing employee?
A high-performing employee is skilled, focused, and passionate about their work. They are the ones who deliver far more productive results than average employees and thus outshine their fellow team members. The knowledge, competency, and experience they bring to the table make them the most valued and coveted employees of an organization.
Distinct traits and conduct of high-performing employees:
- Proactive more than reactive
- Initiators rather than followers
- Passionate about their job
- Take ownership of what they do
- Disciplined, self-driven, and committed
- The 'go-to' resource for the team members
- Adaptable and receptive to situations and feedback
- Ardent learners with growth and progressive mindset
It is evident from the above that high-performing employees are assets to an organization. They contribute to realizing business goals through their creative ideas and remarkable performance. They thus play a significant role in moving the organization forward.
Top ways to recruit high-performing employees
Organizations are always on the lookout to attract top talent from the market. The hiring managers and HR professionals must know how to attract and recruit high-performing employees in the company. They must be adept at identifying the prospective top performers from the pool of candidates and selecting them for the applied job position.
1. Employee referral programs
Develop a dynamic employee referral program to build a qualified and top talent pool in the company. Apprise your current employee about the competence and expertise you are looking for in specific roles. Drive them to refer their friends and peers from the industry who can bring the requisite skills and knowledge to the table. Ask the current high-performing employees to give references of talented and proficient contacts from their network.
2. Exploratory interview rounds
Interviews are the best mechanism to assess if a prospective candidate possesses the capabilities and potential to perform productively or not. Expedite the initial screening process for the prospective high-performing employees to get them straight to the interview rounds. Other than the intense questioning on the technical know-how, evaluate them on behavioral and psychological aspects. Probe their ideologies and vision on work, performance, learning, and growth. Ask specific questions about their driving forces and role models that motivate them. The exhaustive probing during the interview rounds gives a sense of their potential as high-performing employees before recruitment.
The best recruiting approach is to draw in the current top employees in the interviewing process. Harness their competence to help identify and hire high-performing employees from the prospective candidates.
3. Competitive salaries and benefits
A remunerative salary is a preeminent joining and retaining factor for employees. High-performing employees are no exception to that, though it is not a sole motivation for them. The paychecks and perks that match their needs and expectations incite them to come aboard. Thus, to attract and stay with you for a long time, offer them a remuneration or pay package (monetary and non-monetary benefits) that is profitable and cut above what your competitors offer so that they do not jump ship.
Steps to retain high-performing employees
1. Let them learn and grow
The one clear-cut magic formula to managing and retaining high-performing employees is to present them with extensive learning and career development opportunities within the company. To achieve this -
- Enroll them in relevant training programs and courses to facilitate upskilling and imparting knowledge in innovative domains or fields. It will help them take on higher responsibilities within the company and accelerate their career growth.
- Provide effective mentoring and development programs to assist them in developing and growing professionally.
2. Provide autonomy of work
Employees that consistently deliver high-quality performance are primarily self-driven and self-motivated. They have a penchant for exploring and learning new things to broaden the horizons of their capabilities. Having a flexible work environment is conducive to their productivity. Thus, provide them the autonomy to work in their preferred style and manner to empower them to perform to the best of their abilities. Equip them with the required tools and resources, and trust their work approach. High-performing employees feel responsible and accountable for the freedom you give to them, and thus will never let you down.
3. Pay attention to their needs
High-performing employees have a set of expectations of the work and workplace. Identify these expectations through the following steps:
- Leverage 1:1 feedback meetings to know their requirements and the obstacles they are facing at work.
- Conduct employee engagement and job satisfaction surveys with them to gauge their viewpoints on the company's workplace policies and processes.
- Motivate them to suggest changes and concrete measures to enhance their productivity and performance.
- Connect them with other top performers and senior mentors in the company who can guide and inspire them.
4. Stretch their abilities
Employees who are 100% productive have a hunger to deliver more. They look for opportunities that stretch them a step beyond their competence level. So, assign them challenging roles in thought-provoking projects and assignments with high-performing teams to get the best out of them. They will surprise you with innovative ideas and a stellar performance in executing the same. The gratification of the rewarding results elevates their motivation levels and impels long-term stay with the company.
5. Employ innovative performance management tools
Assessing the performance of top employees is a thoughtful and considerate matter. The conventional annual appraisals and feedback do not go well with their working method. Hence, use the following new-age performance techniques to evaluate their performance.
- Keep track of their performance goals and OKRs and provide consistent guidance and support to help achieve them.
- Give continuous and constructive feedback on their performance through regular one–o-one meetings (formal and informal).
- Measure and recognize their accomplishments and contributions through the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other quantifiable metrics.
6. Create a productive organizational culture
A conducive work environment for high-performing employees to thrive is one built on the following pillars:
- Mutual respect: Treat them with respect, and they will remain loyal to you for a prolonged time.
- Trust: High-performing employees should be able to trust their leaders and management team for the rightful work opportunities, fair treatment at work, and support in distressed times.
- Transparency: They appreciate clear and open communication with their managers and team members and getting regular updates on current developments in the company.
Mistakes to avoid with high-performing employees
Be mindful of the following avertable slip-ups while managing your high-performing employees. Do not:
- Limit them in reaching their full potential by assigning them a low competence role, not up to par with their skills and abilities. They may feel unproductive when their talent and expertise are under-utilized. A persistent feeling of not being able to perform in their best capacity forces them to leave the organization for greener pastures outside.
- Disregard their innovative ideas and propositions. Consider their advice when making business decisions for the organization's best interest, regardless of their position or hierarchy level.
- Overlook their valuable contributions to organizational growth. Like other employees, high-performing employees also seek appreciation and recognition from their leaders. Not appreciating their efforts lessens their motivation to deliver high performance and contribute to realizing the company's goals.
- Overburden them with excessive workloads, responsibilities, or tight deadlines. It can make them feel stressed and exploited, further driving them to quit.
Thus, it is imperative to manage your high-performing employees in a tactful manner. Give attention to their needs, or they will not jump ship and slide off to the competitors.
The secret to retaining high-performing employees: Effective performance management
In today's immensely competitive times, organizations cannot afford to lose their top talent to their rivals. They must take practical measures to retain their most valued employees. Employing effective performance management systems is a concrete step in this direction. It makes it easier to keep a check on performance goals and monitor their progress.
We at Mesh offer innovative solutions to analyze and manage the performance of your top employees. Our automated approach to setting goals, doing appraisals, and giving feedback help you partner with them in their professional journey. Request a demo to know more about our services and how we can assist you in retaining your high-performing employees.