Why Do Highly Performing Employees Leave?
Posted by Jessica Miller-Merrell
At every company I’ve ever worked for, I’ve seen really high performing employees come and go for various reasons. Whether they aren’t challenged enough, aren’t being paid enough, or are unhappy with the workload provided at the company – all good employees are bound to leave if you’re not good at keeping them. One of the main functions behind the human resources department is to protect the company from low retention numbers. But for high performing employees, should we focus on working harder to keep them? Absolutely.
The best way to prevent your high performing employees from leaving is to understand the top three reasons why they might want to leave. Then, you can put the best practices into place for preventing this, so you won’t be surprised one day with a letter of resignation. It’s a war for top talent these days, especially in the technology sector, and having a strong retention strategy is the only way you’re going to be able to win it.
Top 3 Reasons for Low Retention for Highly Performing Employees
The most basic issue – and probably the easiest to solve if cash flow is good – is their pay. Numerous research studies have indicated that pay is one of the top three reasons that employees leave a company, and this is even more true for those who perform at a higher level. How to fix the issue? When determining the pay scale for an employee, you can’t just look at the average pay for the job, you need to look at the rate for higher performing employees. Using a salary calculator at one of the big job websites to determine a starting point will help. Then, take a look at what other companies are paying for similar positions, and determine the level of competitiveness you’re willing to go for. If you aren’t as competitive, then talented employees – especially developers – will leave for a bigger paycheck.
The second reason these high performing employees leave is because they’re not being challenged enough. Most high performing employees have a mentality that they always want to push themselves to be better, and they don’t want to waste their time with mundane, non-challenging tasks. How to fix the issue? Give these employees new tasks that challenge them to push their limits. Have them train in different areas of the business, so they can grow their understanding of the company as a whole in preparation for higher level positions. Find a challenging issue that needs tackling, or create a program that allows employees to find holes in current practices, and give them the freedom and responsibility to fix them. It’s important to balance the mundane and necessary tasks with tasks that challenge these individuals. This will not only keep them on board, it will also increase productivity in the workplace.
- Company Culture
The third most common reason that high performing employee leave is a dysfunctional company culture. Most employees go to work, clock-in, and clock-out, with no issues; but high performing employees work differently. They want to feel that they’re making a difference in the company as a whole. If there’s no transparency and the employees aren’t engaged, so they can’t see any real way that their contributing, it’s going to be difficult to retain these employees. How to fix the issue? Create a task force or different committees that allow employees to be a part of the process of creating a better company culture. If that’s too much for your organization to take on, take smaller steps to improve morale like providing more flexible work schedules, catered lunches, or more generous vacation policies. Show them that you care and that you’re looking to enhance your company culture if you want to keep your top talent on staff.
What has your experience been in keeping top talent engaged at your company?
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Jessica is listed as the 2nd most influential recruiter online and as the 8th most powerful woman on Twitter. She is the author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, a how-to business guide for Twitter users. She also writes for a number of leading publications, including Fortune, HR Magazine, SmartBrief, and HR Executive Magazine.