Updated: Dec 9, 2022
You may be dealing with two types of employees on your team:
One is uncommitted, late to work (at least occasionally), lacks quality in their work and does not get anything done on time, has little sense of responsibility, and has lots of excuses (and blames others, too!).
The other type is enthusiastic about their work, proud of what they do, efficient, dedicated and productive, in other words: Your top performers, who typically generate 80% of your revenue (Remember the 80/20 rule!).
Now the question is how do you retain them?
You should be proactive and develop strategies to inspire and retain your top performers.
Otherwise, you will be shocked when they come to you to take advantage of an opportunity they have already seized and show you their gratitude for your contribution to what they have become in your company or team.
Below are some best practices you can use to retain your top performers and help your team reach its full potential.
1- Show respect to your employees
As a leader, you need to respect the opinions and concerns of the team, especially your top performers.
You should give them the freedom to make their own decisions so they feel engaged at work, and let them know you respect their choices.
Treat your employees the way you want your customers to be treated.
According to an SHRM study, "respect" ranks first among the top three causes of job satisfaction (salary is second).
It's a well-known fact that people do not leave companies, but they do leave bad bosses and a bad environment.
Respect is based on reciprocity. So if you show respect to your team members by treating them well, giving them decision-making power, listening to them when they bring even the most outlandish ideas to the company, showing them empathy and understanding when life hits them hard, all your employees will develop a sense of belonging and gratitude and work hard to make your company a success.
2- Challenge the skills of your best employees and keep them engaged.
Most employees quit their jobs because they do not feel engaged or challenged.
They complain that their talents are not being fully utilized.
According to a Gallup survey, only 36% of workers in the United States feel engaged at their jobs. This low number suggests that employee productivity and job satisfaction are low.
You need to get your employees to work together to achieve company goals.
Let them become stakeholders of the company by valuing their decisions for their development.
You can also engage your employees by supporting their career goals and keeping the discussion open at all times. Support your top employees by letting them choose the tasks and projects that better fit their future goals.
3- Promote from within
According to Harvard Business Review, managers who always promote the merits and potential of their employees tend to retain their top talent.
This practice motivates employees and they see themselves as part of the company's future and committed working towards achieving its goals.
You can train your top talent and mold them according to your future needs.
As a manager, you should work to secure the future of your employees by offering promotions within the company rather than hiring new employees.
Your employees are the company's most valuable asset and you need to support them at all levels.
Especially entry-level employees, who are motivated and most likely to change jobs if they are not appreciated for their efforts, you could lose talented, high-performing employees if you do not offer them internal advancement opportunities.
4- Appreciate your top performers with additional perks and rewards.
It may sound like a cliché, but it's a fact that people care about the paycheck to some degree.
Always appreciate your employees when they win something or achieve outstanding results. Recognize their achievements and applaud them for their contributions.
According to Forbes magazine, 79% of top performers quit their jobs because they do not receive recognition and appreciation for their hard work and dedication.
Associate a sense of purpose and higher meaning with your employees' work
It's important to tap into the hidden talents of your employees. If someone is interested in charity, you can involve them in corporate social responsibility.
If one of your employees is interested in photography, you can ask them to manage the social media pages by taking employee photos and capturing the events to attract potential customers and employees.
5- Be on the lookout for signs of dissatisfaction
The best way to be on the lookout for signs of dissatisfaction is to conduct open surveys and talk to employees in person.
This will give you a clear picture of what your employees need and want, and you can find out where you are failing as a manager and leader.
You can ask questions like:
What do you think the company should be doing to create a better work environment?
Do you find your job challenging?
What is your support system in the company?
What motivates you to work toward the company's goals?
What obstacles do you find most challenging in completing a task?
Only those managers who have the soft skills to assess unhappy employees will be able to retain top performers. If leaders and managers do not have these soft skills, training should be provided to improve the skills of leaders.
Further Reading: Ten Most Important (Soft) Skills You Need to Develop to be Successful in Your Career
Some signs of dissatisfaction of your team members are:
Your team members often blame others for their own mistakes.
They seem to be not happy and wanting to leave the work as soon as their shift is over.
They talk about quitting work, often talk about other opportunities or starting their own business.
They become easily irritated by clients and team members.
They often complain about their health problems, often ask for taking days off.
They are not enthusiastic about new projects, display dissatisfaction what they do and complain for being too busy.
6- Invest in employee training and development.
Top performers are usually the ones who are constantly looking for ways to improve their skills and learn new techniques.
You can implement talent management programs to improve every department in the company. If there are no programs in your company, you can consider sending top performers to external training and learning experiences, including overseas.
Implementing talent management programs gives employees the power to make decisions about their professional development.
They can play their role in different departments such as sales, customer service or marketing, constantly learning and discovering their talents.
Some managers think it's a waste of resources to invest time and money in professional development and programs designed to contribute to a positive company culture.
Do not fall for this line of thinking.
Ask your Human Resources department to develop strategies to retain your top talent.
They are the ones who will lead you to growth and success.
Although almost everyone is replaceable, it takes a lot of time, money and energy to replace your top talent.
It's also terribly difficult to change a negative culture where employees are disrespected, unappreciated and treated like replaceable material.