Every company has its star employees--the ones who've been there through thick and thin, who show up early, stay late, and even work their off days when necessary. You might think these employees are as committed to your company as you are, but if they're not treated properly, they could walk straight out the front door.
Below are a few of the biggest reasons the best-of-the-best in your business might decide to look elsewhere for employment. Consider them carefully, and if there's any chance your top performers may be experiencing these challenges, nip them in the bud before you lose your best workers.
1. Unfair compensation
Most people are willing to put forth substantial effort if they're offered fair compensation in return. Your best employees may support your entrepreneurial dreams and buy into what you're selling, but ultimately, it comes down to money. Find a way to pay your workers what they're really worth to your company. No one wants to learn new systems, develop new methods, and take on additional responsibilities, only to earn a measly 1 percent raise at the end of the year.
If an employee is consistently improving your business, he or she deserves to be compensated for it. If you're hesitant to pay a higher wage, ask yourself what it'll cost you if that employee leaves. Upping the salary of a top performer is almost always less expensive than having to go through the recruitment and hiring process again.
2. Poor work-life balance
While money is good, it cannot replace a day off or time with family, especially for those with children. Most employees understand that extra time is sometimes needed for a big project, but once the project is complete, let your people recharge. Give them an extra day off, offer up more vacation time, or send them off with a nice gift card to treat their significant others to dinner at a good restaurant.
Even if you can't follow in the footsteps of companies, like Twitter and Pocket, that offer employees unlimited vacation, you can offer something small that demonstrates you understand your employees' need for work-life balance.
3. Lack of appreciation for accomplishments or tenure
Employees give you their time and energy every day they work for you. But in the long run, they want to know that they matter more than a simple exchange of time for money. Some companies offer more vacation time or paid leave time for tenured staff, while others allow employees to earn all-expenses-paid trips with their accomplishments. What do you do to show your appreciation?
4. Unsupportive upper management
Upper management is seen as leading a company in all respects--from the policies it sets to the attitude and respect for others it demonstrates on a day-to-day basis. So many times, those working long hours counting beans at the bottom feel unnoticed by those at the top--even though they feel they're working just as hard.
To avoid losing top performers to this challenge, take a lesson from Colin Powell. While working his way through the ranks, Powell made it a point to meet and talk with those under him, making sure they were being given the appreciation they deserved. The practice helped him develop and retain top performers, and he speaks of this and many of his other best practices in his book It Worked for Me.
5. A negative work environment
No matter how well a job pays or what dream project the position entails, many employees will jump ship if the atmosphere feels more like a morgue or a fight club than a professional office.
Rob Asghar argues that most managers would be smart to realize the benefits that can be reaped from fostering a positive work environment. Maybe it means changing the lighting, purchasing more inviting furniture for your staff's workspace, or pumping up some positive music. Often, it involves keeping office gossip and Debbie Downers from spreading discord. Whatever it takes, kill the humdrum and let the sunshine in.
6. Hoarding information
Placing every piece of information into the hands of every employee certainly isn't a good idea. Some conversations and decisions are best kept behind closed doors until the details are ironed out. In fact, there may be legal ramifications associated with discussing deals too soon, before they are finalized.
That being said, an open-door policy should work both ways. Let your employees in on changes and advancements as soon as possible. Don't make your entry-level staff members feel like they're the last to learn about the way things are moving forward or about company accomplishments. Make an effort to inform those on the ground floor of the news coming from the boardroom as soon as you can.
7. Promoting from outside
One of the most discouraging challenges employees face is to start a job, train hard and then work harder, learn the systems and procedures, and then watch as someone else is hired to take on the position they've been striving for all along.
Sometimes it's necessary to go outside your doors to find the appropriate talent, but this is the case less often than you may think. Those who have been with the company for some time may lack a specific skill, but they also have a loyalty and an understanding of your company culture that a newcomer won't. Giving your seasoned associates the chance to move up will not only spur them on to greater heights within the company, it will also foster motivation among other employees to work hard and continue to develop as professionals.
Having a great work environment doesn't have to mean breaking the bank to provide perks like Google's or Virgin's. Avoiding the seven blunders above will do wonders for improving office morale and increasing employee retention--especially among the top performers you should prioritize keeping on your team.
What other tactics do you use to reward your best employees? Share your favorite strategies by leaving a comment below.