Beware, HR professionals: Employee loyalty is in danger. Other companies across town and around the globe want to steal your superstars.
As more companies offer remote work – and employees want it – they’re moving fast to hire away your best employees because … well, they’re the best.
So you’ll want – actually, need – to do all you can to keep high performers happy and in the fold.
Here are four best practices to promote employee loyalty. Even better, the strategies work for middle-of-the-road employees who you want to keep happy, too.
Top performers care about challenge – want it, need it, are enthused by it.
“Stretch assignments are essential to keeping rock stars engaged,” says Jeff Hyman, chief talent officer at Strong Suite Executive Search, in research at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Review superstars’ performance at least quarterly with them to determine what they’re capable of. Then decide together what to crank up – quantity or quality of work, level of responsibility or autonomy.
And, Hyman says, don’t ignore compensation. Top performers who do more deserve more (or they’ll leave).
Set a straight career path
Top performers don’t follow the same trajectory of most intended corporate career paths. Theirs is higher and faster. So if you want to keep them happy, you need to help them rise like that.
You want to tailor a professional development plan for superstars.
“It’s important to put your arm around them and say, ‘I think you have a lot of potential and one of my key jobs is helping you reach your potential.’” says Carter Cast, a clinical professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
- Continually give superstars opportunities to improve skills, and
- Get their input so you assign them valuable projects geared specifically toward where they want to go.
Put them in the right place
Top performers are not immune to toxicity in the workplace. Negative people and poor performers can bring down superstars’ morale and performance, according to Dylan Minor, a Kellogg professor of managerial economics and decision sciences.
“Once a toxic person shows up next to you, your risk of becoming toxic … has gone up,” Minor says – and that can spoil an entire department.
Here’s the kicker: A superstar can help improve the performance of colleagues sitting within 25 feet. A toxic colleague can hinder performance of everyone on his or her floor!
Seriously: Carefully position employee workspaces.
Hire slow, fire fast
Now that you know what toxic employees can do to the morale and performance of good employees, can you avoid introducing them to your team? Even worse, you definitely don’t want to put or leave toxic employees in leadership positions.
“The most serious toxic worker is one that has any kind of power or authority,” says Brenda Ellington Booth, a Kellogg professor of management and organizations. “My favorite phrase is, ‘They tend to kiss up and crap down.’”
Hire slow and fire fast, she suggests. Check references beyond the few job candidates supply. Use trial periods before offering full-time employment, if you can. That way, you can be certain the right person is in the right place.
And if you still end up with toxic employees you can’t fire, isolate them as much as possible so they don’t have a negative effect on employee loyalty.