Employees are paid a financial reward for the time, energy and effort they deliver for an employer. In many cases, the financial reward is enough to lure employees back to work day after day, week after week – but what happens when it no longer is?
Most employers expect their human resources to gut it out and to make the best of it when their duties and accountabilities become boring, routine and/or uninspiring. Some employers may think that this is just part of the process, and why work is called work and not play. The problem though, rests less on what employers think, and more on how employees are performing -- or not performing -- their jobs.
For companies who rely on top talent to grow the business, differentiate their value proposition, and grow market share, the best way to reverse any lagging behavior may be to nurture their talent. In other words, abandoning the employee cultivation ship because top talent seems to be doing just fine right now – and are also getting compensated at market rate – may not be the best strategy for retention.
One day this once-satisfied talent could be closing deals and securing new partnerships crucial to the vitality of the company’s reputation, and the next day they could be in your office offering their resignation.
Follow the below strategies to avoid being blindsided by your key employees’ resignation and instead maintain the enthusiasm you want in a fruitful employer/employee relationship.
1.) Be responsive to cyclical aspects of your business
There are bound to be periods when the activities that make employees come alive come to a screeching halt. While it may be tempting to leverage these down times to catch up on boring administrative or other less-than-tantalizing work, it is equally important to ensure employees remain stimulated and engaged in the employer/employee relationship.
This may require interjecting an opportunity for an invigorating marketing or sales or event planning initiative that otherwise would have been shelved or moved out to a later part of the year. Or, it may be the perfect time to assign your top performer to a task or initiative that they have been chomping at the bit to try but never have time to do it. Bottom line, be prepared to roll out compelling opportunities during these cyclical down times.
2.) Provide additional support
Either through internal employees or through hiring outside contractors to support your top performers in areas that are creating burn out. For example, hire a virtual assistant who can relieve your employee from the more cumbersome aspects of the job, while still allowing them the opportunity to keep their leadership role and the overall direction of their projects.
3.) Promote your employee to a role in sync with the higher levels of their performance
The mistake you want to avoid at all costs is to not acknowledge your employee’s commitment and improvement on the job. An underappreciated employee is way more likely to believe the relationship between employee and employer has lost focus – there are very few steps between this belief and actionable steps towards leaving the role. Avoid losing top talent by making sure they’re adequately compensated and feel appropriately challenged.
4.) Create a new performance management system that gives the top-performing employee something new to reach for
Employees are likely to get bored chasing the same old ‘carrots,’ so instead of committing them to old ways, use this as an opportunity to innovate. Having more engaging and challenging goals in place will help add a spark for employees who were finding the previously established goals easy to meet. The added advantage is that a new performance management system will also make it easier for leaders in the company to see their junior level employees in a new light – encouraging those who are performing best and weeding out those who no longer fit the company’s vision.
5.) Assign a mentor coach to employees to help them grow and expand their career alongside their value to the organization
This tip is especially useful for mid-size to larger companies where personalized manager attention may be less frequent. Assigning mentors within the company gives employees the opportunity to feel like the company as a whole is invested in their personal and career development. An added bonus is that those employees who are chosen as mentors now feel like their expertise and hard work is being celebrated and valued in an entirely new way.
6.) Encourage and invest in their additional training and development
Think of your employees as an ATM; you need to make significant deposits every so often so that you have enough room for continuous withdrawals. Show interest in their goals and passions by investing in their desire to improve in any one area. Fronting the cost of a program or course may seem like a short-term financial loss, but can turn into a long-term human resource investment.
7.) Assign them to lead a challenging project that is a grade-level above what they normally would be handling
In other words, don’t be afraid to assign them a stretch goal. This kind of challenge is beneficial to both the employer and employee because it is telling of where an employee currently stands. The challenge itself can also be viewed as an informal interview by top leaders in the company to see who is ready for a promotion, while for employees it can be the change in routine that they’ve been yearning for.
Regardless of which approach you choose to take, the important detail is that you take one. Taking a proactive approach to employee happiness will be one of the most effective ways to increase the company’s retention rate. While it’s fine to have settled into a routine, as one does in winter’s colder months, don’t let the stagnancy linger — add some spring to your step!