Thanks to a strong job market, top performers from every industry are jumping from job to job with ease. Although most of them might say they’re taking new roles because they offer higher wages, survey results tell a different story. According to Gallup, boss behavior majorly impacts whether top talent stays or leaves. In other words, the actions of great managers trump the lure of great salaries, at least most of the time.
It’s likely that you’ve worked for a subpar supervisor at one point or another. Was it hard to leave that company, even if the paycheck there was stellar? Probably not. But now that you’re in the human resources or leadership seat, you owe it to your organization to make sure your best people don’t feel like you once did. After all, your company can’t afford to have them quit — or, perhaps worse, stop caring about their work.
Interestingly, it’s that last group of totally disengaged folks that Amazon actively weeds from its payroll. Once a year, qualifying full-time fulfillment center employees are given the option to take $5,000 and split — for good. The corporation actually pays to send people packing to keep its workforce stronger.
While you might not be ready to take such drastic measures, you should dedicate your time and resources to boost employee engagement among your organization’s top performers. Unsure how to do that? Start with the following steps:
1. Identify the cream of the crop.
Who would you fight hard to keep in your company? You can probably name a couple of people off the top of your head, but dig deeper than that. Who keeps grinding long after everyone else gives up? Which player puts quality and brand reputation over all else, constantly evolving through self-directed professional development? Whose calm-under-pressure decisions exude intelligence and confidence? These are the people who are anything but average. Retaining them will make your office stronger.
2. Share your top performer list with your leadership.
After you compile the list of your strongest employees, share it with your company’s leadership team. Explain in no uncertain terms that if anyone thinks one of those performers is disengaged, they should alert you immediately. That way, you can set up a meeting between the employee, his or her direct support, and/or another team member to learn how they can adjust their relationship and keep the employee engaged and loyal. In the meantime, schedule twice-yearly “stay interview” check-ins between your top performers and the most senior company executive you can. These meetings will advance your employees’ networks and careers as well as reduce the chance of them leaving without warning.
3. Move ASAP to keep any performer who tries to resign.
As you focus on keeping great talent in-house, ask leadership team members to identify potential flight risks and prepare for the worst. If you receive a resignation letter from a talented worker, get him or her in front of a senior executive within 24 hours. Use every tool at your disposal to win the person back. Give (or get) the blessing to move mountains if you can. Sometimes, a creative solution can be the difference between retaining top talent and shelling out for a new hire.
Money may initially motivate amazing people to join a company, but it doesn’t keep them around for longer than a couple of years. Committed, respectful leaders and human resources teams who absolutely care are the reason top talent stays put. Strive to fulfill those traits and watch as your superstars stick around for years.
If you’d like to learn more about how the language leaders use every day can help employees feel more connected and engaged, check out a sample of my upcoming book here.