Unfortunately, a high performer typically knows that they are a high performer — which means they tend to have high expectations for how they will be treated by their employer. If an organization does not provide exactly what a high performer wants and needs, they will not hesitate to look for a better position elsewhere.
So, what can you do to keep your high performers satisfied? Here is a guide to what today’s high performers expect from their places of work.
Their work fills all sorts of needs in a high performer’s life — the need to gain skills and knowledge, for example, or the need to have an impact on the world. However, the most important need by far that employment provides is the need for regular wages. And considering that a high performer can deliver 400 percent more productivity than the average performer, high performers tend to expect their wages to be competitive, at least.
Studies on job satisfaction have found that base pay and bonus pay are the top two concerns for all employees, and high performers pay especially close attention to these two factors. Though tenure-based compensation strategies might seem fair, rewarding workers for their commitment to the company, they are sure to alienate high performers, who do more than low and average performers to bring the company success. Yet, separating the workforce into high and low performers and routinely rewarding high performers with significantly higher raises could build resentment in the rest of your staff.
The best strategy for satisfying high performers’ need for compensation that represents their contributions is to allow for greater fluctuation in bonus pay. If there is no cap to the bonuses that the top portion of high performers can achieve, they will continue to be motivated to give their all to your business.
Many positions do not give workers direct access to the results of their work, and without feedback from superiors, employees must hope or guess that their contributions are having a positive effect. High performers, more than average performing employees, need regular reassurance that the effort they are putting into their tasks is making a difference on business outcomes. Half of high performers polled say they expect a monthly meeting with their managers to review their effectiveness and direct their performance for the coming weeks, but only half of these enjoy such regular feedback. Ultimately, this causes confusion and disengagement among high performers, who become less interested in working hard when they cannot be certain that their work matters.
Annual or semi-annual performance reviews are not enough to slake a high performer’s appetite for feedback. If you cannot fit a monthly review with your top performers into your schedule, you should find a different way to ensure your high performers are receiving the feedback they need to maintain their high quantity and quality of work. Employee recognition programs can help you track the performance and achievements of members of your staff and prompt you to connect with high performers when they need attention and reassurance to keep up morale and motivation.
Many high performers are curious and enjoy the process of gaining new knowledge and skills. High performers tend to be capable of directing their own learning and upskilling — but they still expect their employers to provide some support in their development. High performers want access to formal training programs that will help them hone the abilities they need to excel in their current position and any future roles along their career paths.
You might not have enough space in your business budget to develop a wealth of trainings and workshops, but you can still offer high performers the career development opportunities they crave. At the very least, you can frame their work assignments around what the worker will learn from the experience, but you should also give your employees the option of participating in mentoring and shadowing programs within your organization.
Your high performers are your most valuable business resources, and you do not want to let them get away. By strategically rewarding their behavior with the pay they deserve and the feedback and development opportunities they crave, you can keep your high performers engaged and enthusiastic about work.