6 Ways to Keep Top Performers Engaged in the Workplace

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Keeping talented employees is extremely important to employers – and especially tough to do in today’s competitive job market. Retaining key employees is something that requires careful planning and strategy, but does not have to cost your organization a great deal of money.

Your key employees are those who consistently exceed performance expectations, have the potential to grow into higher-level positions or are in critical positions within the firm. Here are some strategies for ensuring that your high performers continue to select you as their employer of choice.

  1. Know Your Employees (and Genuinely Care About Them). One size does not fit all when it comes to creating a great place to work. Managers who take the time to get to know their employees and treat them with respect and trust will find that employees enjoy working for them. Not everyone has the same needs or concerns, so learning more about each employee will allow you to provide them with the flexibility they need.
  2. Provide Employees With Meaningful Work. Employees want to feel as if they have made a contribution that matters at work. Provide employees, especially top performers, with challenging work opportunities that are meaningful. Employees who are satisfied with the type of work they are assigned are more likely to stay. Be sure to also provide advancement opportunities to your top performers once they are ready to move to the next level – even though it may be tempting to keep them in their current role. Define career paths for employees and empower them to reach the next level.
  3. Pay and Reward Employees Fairly. Some articles will tell you that compensation isn’t the reason employees leave their employer. The bottom line is this: everyone expects to be paid fairly for their work, and high performers expect to be paid more for their efforts and will leave to go to an employer who is willing to pay them what they are worth. Develop a compensation strategy that is attractive to high performers and fair to all employees. When employees consistently perform at high levels, reward them in a way that is meaningful to them. Be sure to have a benefits package that includes benefits that are important to employees at all life stages. Also, remember to regularly show your appreciation year round with personalized thank you notes, spot rewards or even rewarding someone with an occasional extra day off, to recognize their efforts.
  4. Develop and Train Employees. Providing training opportunities for employees to improve their skills and education can be an effective tool for retaining high performers. Top employees want to improve their skills and grow to the next level. Some employers worry about spending money to train employees because it makes the employee more attractive to other employers. However, the risk of having underdeveloped employees may be worse. Use training solutions that work for everyone by creating individual learning plans. Remember to provide feedback for the development of your employees. Feedback should be based on forward-looking development – don’t dwell on the past.
  5. Empower and Trust Employees. Let your employees know you trust them and have confidence in their ability to make decisions and get work done. They may not do the work exactly the way you would, but it’s important that you give them the opportunity to take ownership. Competence, integrity, reliability and communication are critical to building trust, so you must foster an environment that promotes these key elements. When employees feel trusted and empowered, it allows them to make decisions with self-assurance.
  6. Have Some Fun! We spend a lot of time at work – working! All employees, including your top employees, want to enjoy their workplace. Allow for fun events at work and outside of the workplace to give your employees time to build camaraderie and get to know each other better. Be sure to join in the fun – employees look for the company’s leaders to model the way.

Editor’s note: If you found this article helpful, check out our Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Pro Center articles, “7 Key Strategies to Attract Outstanding Talent” and “How to Find the Right Tax Talent to Build Your Growing Firm.”

Karen Mattull, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Karen Mattull is the director of Human Resources for BeachFleischman PC. She is responsible for the strategic alignment of human resources functions within the firm’s overall mission and culture. Additionally she manages the internal administrative team and provides external human resources consulting services. More from Karen Mattull, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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