Giving recognition where it’s due: how to identify and retain top performers

How to recognize and retain top performers

In the first blog post of the series, Top 5 people challenges and how to overcome them, I discussed the fact that top performers – the “top 10%” – are often overlooked and fail to receive the recognition they deserve. Unsurprisingly, when this is the case, these employees don’t tend to stick around. It has never been as easy as it is today for individuals to identify and grab hold of better opportunities.

Statistics show that 40% of employee turnover happens within the first three to six months of the hiring process. Among millennials – who Brookings says will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025 – the average tenure is only 2.1 years. The figures say it all: employee retention is a challenge. For this very reason, I say with great emphasis that retaining top performers needs to be a priority. In this post, I share what it is that sets top performers apart, the value they bring to your company and exactly how they can be identified.

Competition is tough, losing top performers is tougher

Each year, Fortune releases a list of the Top 100 best companies to work for. This is just one platform among the plethora of resources that are available at the click of a button that highlight the “greener pastures” out there. Make no mistake, brilliant companies don’t just go about their business; they ensure that their brilliance is visible.

Dimming the light that is shone on competitive opportunities is beyond your control, but you do have the power to turn the light on introspectively, so to speak, and to take a good look at how to enhance your work environment to a degree that encourages top performers to stay. Remember, losing top performers can have a drastic impact on your company and its competitive edge. First things first, however, you need to know who the top performers are.

What are the characteristics of top performers?

A top performer can be recognized by some of the following attributes. These employees are able to:

  • Consistently deliver an excellent standard of work
  • Work in a time-efficient manner
  • Boost productivity
  • Handle pressure and changes
  • Solve complex problems
  • Keep a positive attitude, even when the going gets tough
  • Teach, lead and motivate others

As much as they bring to the table, top performers also – quite fairly – seek growth, mental stimulation, recognition, reasonable remuneration and career advancement. By positively responding to these expectations, you drastically increase the likelihood of your top performers remaining engaged.

Why are top performers overlooked?

Companies struggle to identify and retain top performers for various reasons. In larger corporations a high level of personal interaction across the board can be tricky, if not impossible. In some organizations, a “company culture” that places employee well-being high on the list of priorities has simply not been nurtured. In other cases, companies don’t have the resources, including time, to give this focus.

Moreover, some executives don’t know which qualities to look out for in individuals, such as those outlined in the above list. And, unfortunately, some managers feel threatened by top performers in their team and thus intentionally don’t give them the credit they deserve. Whatever the reason, you need to know how to recognize them so you don’t lose them.

How can top performers be easily pinpointed?

As is the case in many an industry, data processing is proving to be a master key with the power to unlock change. This is no different in the field of human resources. At vi by Aderant, we have an intricate understanding of HR requirements and how best to address them with advanced solutions. To assist you in recognizing employees who are a cut above the rest, we have developed software that does the hard work for you.

Our Top 10% Solution helps you identify and retain top performers. It offers a holistic view of individuals’ contribution to the business, as well as their interactions with their peers. Therefore, the major benefits of the program include that it eliminates human bias and focuses on more than billable hours and sales.

What next?

In a nutshell, you want to be sure your top performers know that you care; that you value them and their input. Take the necessary actions to show them this. One of the ways you can retain top performers is by placing them in an acceleration retention program – you can read more about this in our previous blog, Rethinking Employee Retention. Another practical measure is to ensure that they feel like they fit in with the team, which is particularly important if they form part of a diverse group. Read more about this in our next blog, Supporting diversity, encouraging inclusion and enabling success, we touch on yet another important aspect of employee retention.

Want to learn more?

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