In the world of employee engagement, we spend a lot of time slicing data. We look at engagement levels by departments, supervisors, tenure, and generation. This is all interesting and can highlight “hot spots” that are faced with unique challenges or may benefit from extra coaching, support and accountability.
However, if we step back and think about why we measure employee engagement, one of the most compelling reasons is because it impacts employee retention. At Newmeasures we suggest reframing that idea slightly from employee retention to retention of our best employees. As such, we work with our clients to connect their data to performance ratings so that we can understand, what are the key drivers of employee engagement for the organization’s top talent? Doing so allows organizations to focus on follow-up efforts that are targeted toward what our best people care about.
Top performers are critical and often the most at risk for leaving. Why? They are good at what they do and want to use their talents to make an impact; as a result they can get frustrated more easily when roadblocks get in their way. And, because they are good, they have more options to find jobs elsewhere. Understanding what is most important to keep this group of top performers and high potentials is incredibly valuable.
We see some common themes when looking at driver analysis of top performers across a variety of different types of organizations. Top performers care about:
-Being able to share and act upon their ideas. They are driven by making improvements and
contributing to innovation.
Work-life balance. We rely heavily on our best people and tend to give them more/challenging work because
we know they will get it done and do it well. But if we lean on them too much, they are at risk for
-Professional development. Top performers are driven by continuously developing their own skills and
advancing in their careers. It’s tempting for managers to “hoard” their best employees (who wants to lose a
top performer?), but if talented people don’t have opportunities to grow within the organization they are
likely to find them somewhere else.
In contrast to the list above, we often see “low” performers caring about recognition, constructive feedback and autonomy over decisions. Given that these areas of focus are so different, you can see why it is valuable to understand what top performers care about and focus follow-up efforts in this area.
The next time you are thinking about how to slice and dice your employee engagement survey data, consider viewing it from the performance lens. You’ll be glad that you did.
How do you keep in touch with the engagement of your top performers?