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Your Most Productive Employees Are the Ones Most Likely to Leave

Posted on September 22, 2015

The job landscape has come a long way since the financial meltdown of 2007. Back then thousands of workers lost their jobs and there were hundreds of applications for every available job opening. Employers could afford to be selective in filling positions and raises and bonuses were kept to a minimum.

Eight years later the job market has done a complete about-face. According to data from the Harvard Business Review, the balance of power between candidates and employers has shifted to the candidates by a wide margin. In the second half of 2011, 54% of recruiters surveyed said the market favored candidates over employers. In the first half of 2015, 90% said it was a candidate-driven marketplace.

What’s driving this growth? It pays to switch jobs. Those who leave their job for another earn a 10-20% increase in salary. In contrast, the average raise for an existing employee in 2014 was 3%. With an inflation rate of 2.1% last year, the raise is effectively reduced to 1%, about $100 for every $10,000 in annual salary.

That difference in pay explains why 1 in 3 employees is looking for a new job in 2015. Smart employees know the fastest way to earn a raise isn’t by sticking around, it’s by jumping ship. Unfortunately for employers, these smart employees are also most likely to be their top performers.


The Most Productive Most Likely to Leave

Perhaps this development explains the rise of the disengaged high performer. According to a study by Leadership IQ, the most productive employees might actually be the least engaged. By the same token, the least productive employees are increasingly the most engaged. The data makes clear that high performers are losing motivation and in danger of leaving.

This is a problem for employers as turnover is costly but even more so when it comes to replacing stars. What can employers do to increase engagement and hang on to their best employees? Heather Human has a number of suggestions in her article on Three of these suggestions include:

1. Use Their Skills

A full 58 percent of employees surveyed by SHRM this past year indicated the opportunity to use their skills was important to engagement. Further, 34 percent linked the use of their skills to high job satisfaction.

Knowing this, managers of high performers should speak with their reports about their skills, determine which ones the employee would like to use and develop, and assign them projects based on that skill.

2. Incorporate Employees’ Ideas

The employee suggestion box, for many companies, is a dusty wooden box that sits in the corner. No one reads contributions and managers view it as more of a bother than anything else.

Which is a shame because it is one of the most sure-fire ways to engage employees and improve company performance. Toyota, for example, emerged as the world’s number one auto maker by developing the concept of “continuous improvement” (aka. “kaizen”) which involved the continual implementation of employee suggestions.

Employees want to help the company improve – a full 56% of survey respondents said their supervisor’s respect for employee ideas was important to their job satisfaction. Give them the means to communicate their ideas and be rewarded in both company performance and employee engagement.

3. Assurances of Career Growth

Every employee wants to know, sooner or later, where all their effort is leading them. Feeling helpless in advancing their career is one of the biggest predictors of whether a high performer will quit. In SHRM’s survey, 47% of respondents indicated career advancement opportunities within the organization was one of the most important factors in job satisfaction.

To counter feelings of despair, managers should communicate advancement opportunities for employees within the organization clearly and often. Managers can also recognize and celebrate individual achievement. Offering small rewards, peer recognition, and prizes can be a huge motivator for all employees, both high performing and low.

By following these three tips, managers can hold on to their top performers to continue or enhance the success of their organization.

If your company is ready to change the way you communicate with your employees, engage your top performers and combat employee turnover, then it’s time to contact Vocoli.

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