5 things you can do to retain high performers

Your best workers impact your organisation in countless ways. Yes, they achieve their objectives and produce business results. But consider how they also:
  • Motivate peers to perform at high levels
  • Refer high-quality applicants to your company
  • Advocate on behalf of your business outside work
  • Shape your company culture and facilitate long-term business growth.
Gallup reports a conservative estimate that employee turnover costs equate to up to twice an employee’s annual salary. When you lose high-performing people, costs rise even more. And when a top employee leaves, team morale can be damaged, creating a snowball effect that leads to even more turnover.

Companies focused on employee retention invest in workers. Let’s look at five key ways you can engage and keep your best professionals:

1. Support career growth

High-performing workers want to develop skills on the job. A January 2022 survey by the Harris Poll found that 80% of employees considered professional development important when they considered accepting a new job.

Businesses that expect employees to stay loyal must help employees reach their long term career goals. But a July 2021 survey by Monster found 80% of workers don’t feel like their employers are contributing to their career growth. If your business doesn’t foster a learning culture but a competitor does, that could impact your retention efforts.

When you offer skill development opportunities, you provide workers with a path for upward mobility. Plus, those newfound skills help your company. High-performing workers can use their new skills to continue to achieve, contribute and innovate.

2. Focus on people’s strengths

Results are typically more noticeable and work is more enjoyable and efficient when people can fully use their skills. And this can boost employee engagement.

When managers encourage workers to use their strengths, Gallup research found up to:
  • A 15% increase in employee engagement
  • An 18% boost in performance
  • A 10% increase in customer engagement.
Think about how likely a high-achieving employee will be to stay in a position where they’re not using their strengths. When they consider how much faster they could grow their careers at a job that does employ their best skills, the pull to look elsewhere may be irresistible.

Empower your managers to talk to their people about what their strengths. Ask people what work and tasks they’d prefer. And create a career development plan with each employee to give them opportunities to develop their skills so they can take on the work that most interests them.

As part of career development, managers can identify personalised learning paths that can help workers further develop skills related to their strengths. When employees take training courses, they may uncover new strengths that could benefit your company even more.

3. Support work-life balance

More than ever, today’s workers are considering what they want out of their jobs. And an August 2021 survey of 4,600 workers found the top reason people want to change careers is to find better work-life balance.

What does work-life balance look like? Employers can support their workers’ desires by offering:
  • Reasonable workloads
  • Physical and mental health benefits such as insurance
  • Flexibility in hours and work environment
  • Paid time off
  • Learning opportunities.
Part of supporting an employee’s work-life balance is helping them to develop as professionals and get more meaning from work. When you provide learning opportunities, you can boost morale and help employees be more engaged.

According to McKinsey & Company’s 2022 American Opportunity Survey, 87% of employees take the opportunity to work flexibly when they have it. When you offer learning opportunities, consider on-demand formats that give workers the ability to learn at their own pace, from wherever they are.

Ask your employees, especially high-performers, how you can support their work-life balance. Then work on offering the benefits your workers want.

4. Promote from within

When you have open positions, consider moving your high-achieving employees up the ladder rather than hiring from the outside. By promoting from within, you:
  • Reward your best employees with positions they deserve
  • Show all your workers you’re invested in their success
  • Save time and expenses on onboarding and training.
Companies that promote from within create a supportive work culture. Workers know they have a pathway to achieve and advance. That can boost results as employees at all levels strive to perform better so they can advance, too.

Positive learning cultures have a significant impact on internal promotion as well. Our 2021 study of more than 2,400 global workers found workers who rated their company learning cultures as positive are 199% more likely to receive a promotion than those who rated their company learning cultures as negative.

Be sure to offer employees opportunities to enhance their knowledge and develop their skills so they can advance their careers and follow a career development plan. Experiential learning opportunities provide on-the-job learning, as employees can practice new skills in a hands-on environment.

5. Be a great place to work

Today’s employees want more out of work than a paycheque. They want a place where they can grow their skill set and continually learn so they can become more well-rounded professionals. More advanced upskilling organisations report a 95% stronger corporate culture and employee engagement than those that aren’t as advanced.

Many workers also want their job and their company to make a positive contribution to the world. A January 2022 worker survey by Gartner found that since the pandemic:
  • 65% are rethinking the place of work in their lives
  • 56% want to contribute more to society
  • 52% are questioning the purpose of their day-to-day jobs
  • 50% have changed their expectations of their employers.
Increasingly, professionals want their employer’s values to mirror their own. In June 2022, a Qualtrics survey found that 56% of workers won’t consider a workplace that doesn’t share their values.

To retain high-performing employees, create an inclusive culture that supports all employees and promote values that matter to high performers. Values impact everything a company does and how it presents itself to the world. They influence an employer’s vision and mission statement, company culture, diversity and equity, philanthropic efforts and more.

A robust culture of learning helps an employer advance past being “the place someone works” to become part of each employee’s identity.

Useful resources:
Degreed is the workforce upskilling platform for one in three Fortune 50 companies. We integrate and curate all the resources people use to learn - including learning management systems and millions of courses, videos, articles, books, and podcasts.
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