The holiday break gives time to contemplate our current job. Let’s make sure your key people return next year.

Harvest Director, Maree Herath explains in Part 2 of ‘retaining your top performers’.

Many a high performing staff member is an employer’s dream come true. They are competent, efficient, highly customer centric and are great team players. They know what needs to be done and they just get on and do it. It’s no wonder employers want to retain such talent. 

However great employees, as do many staff members overall, take time to think about their job over the Christmas break. To ensure your key people return next year, here’s a snapshot of 5 more typical thoughts that enter an employee’s mind while away and how you can address their concerns before they surface. 

1. Am I supported? 

There are those staff that have the capacity to take on a lot. They are highly productive and relish at further challenges given to them. I would recommend Managers keep an eye on these staff as, often their task list is huge and ordinarily they are on top of it. However when the work goes beyond positive stress this staff member can implode quickly. Ensure their energy levels remain in a good space and that they are not overwhelmed. An enthusiastic high performer will be back in the New Year ready for more while one that has been overloaded too long will need the promise of support when they return. 

2. Do I like my team?

All could be going well with respect to the tasks your team member undertakes but if there are issues with another team member or members this can quickly see a resignation from them. The vast majority of people need to enjoy their job and also the company of their colleagues. If they are disconnected, at best they become aloof, at worst there can be serious ramifications – not just a departure but a bullying and harassment claim to boot. Ensure you have clear policies in place especially around bullying and harassment, discrimination and grievances to set the tone for appropriate interactions and courses of action if there is an issue. Other team bonding activities could assist whether they are outdoor pursuits, personal or professional development or other outlets that enhance team interactions. 

3. Do I like my boss?

Another sure way to lose a staff member is if they don’t get on with their boss. Give staff members the opportunity to appraise their manager and look for themes. If there is a deficiency in management and leadership skills then train your leaders. One of the greatest organisation wide gaps is in leadership training. In fact if this was the one training element an organisation undertook on an ongoing basis the organisation would truly become high performing. Now, if there is a personality clash this is very hard to navigate. Sometimes there can be a change in reporting line that could assist but beware as this then sets a precedent for others who may be challenged by the same manager. Sometimes it’s a difficult decision, whether to support the manager or the individual. It comes down to who represents the organisation better – from a values and performance perspective – as to which member management aligns with. Sometimes turnover needs to happen if there is difficulty in people getting along. Especially if it impacts performance and harmony within a team. 

4. Do I like this company? Security?

Another aspect that will impact an employee’s tenure is if they are comfortable with the company. Many employees have a certain impression of a company before they start. If actual impression lines up with their perceived impression all is good. However if the two are markedly different it makes for an imbalance in the employees mind. Another is when a company is acquired or restructures or has new management and the company is no longer the company the employee joined. Sometimes it can mean things are better. A HR manager that had seen an organisation through some tough times was even more committed when the company brought a new progressive CEO on. Other changes can be tolerated. While others (for example significant restructure and redundancies) can leave the employee insecure and uncertain about their future. These will be the ones that will tend to pull the pin at the first opportunity and vacancy that exists outside of the company. It takes delicate management to rally your top performers if disenchantment sets in. 

5. Are career opportunities available?

Some employees are ready for advancement and if they are not presented with promotional or career advancement opportunities within the company they will look outside. Ensure you have appropriate performance review processes in place so you know where a staff member wants to go.  This allows employers to institute appropriate training and provides the employee the opportunity to secure advancement as it becomes available. If by chance you cannot offer advancement to your staff you can offer professional development and they will be indebted to you as they advance outside and beyond your organisation.

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