Retention and Rewards: How to Invest in Top Talent
Recruiting top talent can be very difficult, but investing in top talent can be an even bigger task for many organizations, especially those with a combination of high performers and lower-skill workers. Too often, organizations take a “one size fits all” approach to recruiting and retaining talent. This can prove to be a very expensive approach, as key performers are costly to replace, and competitors are always on the lookout for highly skilled talent. For many key performers, it is only a matter of time before they quit and go elsewhere, leading most companies to seek better ways to invest in top talent and keep their business moving forward.
Companies must recognize their top performers.
The first – and most important – part of retaining your top employees involves identifying them. Companies who take a “one size fits all” approach to retention are already missing the mark. While companies can benefit from improving their retention strategies across the board, they must include a special focus on their key employees. Identification is important, as companies cannot take steps to retain these performers if they are not recognizing them at a corporate level. Worse, it will be evident to the key employee that their abilities and services are not acknowledged, fueling high attrition rates.
Valuable contributions require valuable rewards.
Top performers require a different sort of attention than the rest of an organization’s employees. Due to the tremendous demand for their skills, they are much more likely to leave than less-skilled employees, and so traditional retention tactics such as mentorship, corporate social responsibility, and benefits packages are not effective enough. While the mission of the company and its ability to create meaningful work can significantly help to retain all employees, reward packages are an effective way to “go the extra mile” for those employees who contribute more. Offering bonuses upon the completion of big projects translates to acknowledgement of a job well done, and offering pay above market rate will give top performers incentive to stay.
A thankful organization will have more talent.
There is another facet to bonus programs that can significantly help an organization’s retention rates if utilized. Top performers are much more likely to leave an organization if there are no rewards, as this translates to an underappreciation of their large contributions. If a bonus is not financially viable, acknowledging a top performer’s work with a verbal or emailed “thank you” is an easy, cheap, and quick way to acknowledge a top performer and increase job satisfaction. Such acknowledgement is critical for success at any level. If done consistently, this could contribute to the employee staying with your company longer. However, companies that rely solely on this easy and cheap tactic and have no rewards or bonus programs in place may find themselves falling short.
Your top performers are people with career goals, not robots.
All employees are different, and this applies to top performers as well. While many hard-working and high-achieving employees will stay for rewards and bonuses, some may not be content to simply stay where they are for more money. After all, such talented and skilled workers often set large goals for themselves and many have plans to advance their careers much further than their current position. Organizations would be wise to make promotion opportunities visible to their best and brightest. Key performers often crave demanding projects and require more mental stimulation than regular employees, and with skills in high demand, they can easily secure a desk at a more stimulating company if they are feeling bored or forgotten.
Your top performers usually have a backup plan – and so should you.
In the event that a top performer receives an offer elsewhere, the company still has some options left. It is wise for a counter-offer program to be in place for when an employee announces that she has gotten an offer – companies who do not already have a counter-offer program in place may find themselves already at a loss. Creating a policy to match the offer and increase by a few percentage points could create a last-defense safety net that prevents the employee from abandoning ship. An additional safety net is a succession plan. This is particularly useful if the top performer decides to leave despite the counter-offer. A succession plan that is designed to develop another employee to replace the top performer can produce strong results for the organization. If the succession plan is enacted wisely, a high-potential employee will undergo the training that creates a new top performer, and loyalty to the organization will increase due to the successful mentorship that advanced the employee’s career.
Of course, no company has ever been successful in retaining all of its top talent. It is inevitable that some will leave, but proactive communication can result in less top performers turning over to the competition. Aside from bonus packages and rewards, communication is one of the most important tools an organization has for meeting the needs of its employees. An organization must actively monitor their top performers’ satisfaction – with their assignments and their pay – so appropriate adjustments can be made. Many employees will see such communication as a form of acknowledgement of their skills. This win-win situation will benefit both parties immensely – the ultimate goal of employee retention.
PeopleScout, a TrueBlue Company, is a trusted global recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) provider offering full service support in nearly every industry & skill vertical. PeopleScout provides innovative RPO solutions including enterprise, full cycle, partial cycle & project RPO as well as Recruiter On-Demand™, a contract solution designed by PeopleScout. PeopleScout’s suite of services also includes employer branding, mobile optimization, sourcing, interviewing, Next Level™ candidate care, onboarding, ATS & CRM/Talent Community & reporting & analytics through PeopleScout Higher Insights™ for fully customized solutions. PeopleScout helps our clients make tens of thousands hires annually across a variety of industries & skill sets & improves quality of hire for companies with exempt & non-exempt hiring needs worldwide.