Are Your Top Performers Looking Around?

July 30, 2008

According to a new study by Leadership IQ, 47 percent of high performers are actively looking for other jobs (they're posting and submitting resumes, and even going on interviews). While its terrible that almost half of high performers are thinking about quitting, what's perhaps even worse is that low performers want to stay.

Only 18 percent of low performing employees are actively seeking other jobs, and 25 percent of middle performers are actively looking around. (DHM note: why would they be seeking other jobs; they've found a home! They have figured out how to stay below the radar and collect a check for minimal contribution. How long can you afford non revenue producing employees that usually make up 80 percent of your total workforce?). Leadership IQ surveyed 16,237 employees on a range of workforce and retention issues, and then divided them into high, middle and low performer categories based on their annual performance appraisal scores. There were 3,896 employees identified as high performers, 8,607 identified as middle performers, and 3,734 low performers."High performers keep companies in business," said Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, in a prepared statement. "So every company is at risk if these people leave. If you lose some low performers, you might actually be better off. But when your best people quit, revenue drops, quality suffers and snafus increase. Even large companies can take a big hit with the departure of just a few key employees. The worst part of this is that we typically cause our high performers to quit by how we treat them. Frankly, we treat our high performers worse than any other employee. When a manager has a tough project upon which the whole company depends, to whom do they turn? Who gets the late hours and the stress? Its not the low performers, because managers want the project done right. Instead managers turn to their handful of high performers. Over and over we ask our high performers to go above and beyond, making their jobs tough and burning them out at a terrible pace. Meanwhile, low performers often get easier jobs because their bosses dread dealing with them and may avoid them altogether."

So what can you do to keep your top performers happy? Make sure you know WHY they are your top performers, not just that they are....because of sales or collections or new business. If you understand WHY your top performers do what they do, you can improve performance of your middle and lower groups, reducing strain on top performers while improving profitability and reducing turnover. The old adage....."you cannot manage what you cannot measure"....has never been so true as it is when talking about improving performance. There ARE tools available to help you make sure you retain your top performers and improve the rest of your team at costs FAR less than replacing a top performer...or paying a full salary to a low performer that is a non-revenue expense. Your employees are your company's single most important asset: are you investing in them as much as your other assets? If you want to be around tomorrow, investing in employees today is a good bet!