Staff retention – ensuring your company is the cat that got the creme de la creme

It’s a truism to say that good staff make for good companies. But what exactly is it that makes for a “high performer”? What are their defining features? And how do you get them to work at their best? Here are five tips on how to reliably identify top staff members and successfully bind them to your company.
September 10, 2020
4 min
Johanna Kuch, Managing Director bei tts Talent Management Consulting GmbH Johanna Kuch

The lady in accounting is a real wallflower. She hardly says a word to the people she bumps into at the coffee machine in the mornings, and she doesn’t speak up much in meetings, either. She arrives and leaves on time, doesn’t get involved in office gossip, and takes care of her jobs like clockwork … and is regularly overlooked for promotion.

Assessing performance based on solid KPIs

Members of staff who fail to get noticed among the mass of employees are frequently not seen by their companies as top performers. Many employees remain below the radar, even if they reliably meet all their deadlines, are always well informed, and are even happy to take on additional tasks at short notice and consistently deliver flawless results. So why are they still not usually seen as potential high performers? It’s quite simple really. Because in many places, staff performance is still assessed very subjectively. This can backfire badly, because the top performers are not always the ones who are best-liked. In the worst-case scenario, companies that rely only on gut feeling will fail to identify their best members of staff, and will lose them as a result.

It is therefore high time to start using solid facts for performance reviews. People analytics solutions such as SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics provide the necessary data. They bring together information from various systems and thus make it possible to take an objective and informative view of the workforce at the press of a button. The advantage is that employees such as the quiet lady from accounting no longer fall through the cracks and the HR department can provide targeted development opportunities. There is more to this, though, than making full use of top performers’ potential and binding them to the company in the long term.

Simply having professionally structured discussion and feedback systems is nothing to write home about. Much more important is that HR departments actively promote the conditions for systematic development of the various employee skills and abilities. As a result, they move from being administrators to creators. The following tips can help you with this.

1. Keep talking

Talking is the only way to understand what motivates an employee – and preferably not just during the annual pay review. By establishing regular feedback discussions with staff instead, you can closely monitor their needs and wishes, and respond quickly to these accordingly.

2. Boost workforce participation

Actively involving staff in decision-making processes brings two advantages. First, employees feel valued, and second, they are able to bring their wealth of experience and skills to bear by helping optimize existing processes. Of course, there are also areas where decisions have to be made without involving the workforce. In these cases, transparency is all the more important. Open communication regarding budget planning, staffing decisions, etc. makes staff more likely to stay with the company.

3. Allow employee criticism

Even managers are not infallible, and that makes it all the more important that they listen to the criticism from their staff and actively work on their own areas for development. Ideally, bosses should talk with employees in person and ask them directly what they could do better. Anonymous questionnaires and online surveys can also help identify areas for development in the upper echelons. This is important. After all, dissatisfaction with a supervisor remains one of the primary reasons for staff leaving the company.

4. Show appreciation regularly

A manager’s silence is praise enough? This is definitely not the way to keep your best workers. Even if they are rewarded with above-average pay and regular promotions. However, regularly taking time to praise staff and rewarding top performance with personal incentives will keep many employees on (and at) your side.

5. Enable tailored development

Upskilling staff is a key success factor for every company. At least, it is when the focus is kept on the specific needs of the individual employees. After all, not everyone is keen to climb the career ladder in their own department. Some might be looking for something quite different. Intelligent talent management solutions help determine the skills and abilities of each employee and systematically develop these. This helps boost staff satisfaction and thus also boost performance.

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