Are you in danger with your best performers ?

Employee engagement is a big buzzword these days. Everyone in the HR sphere, it seems, is talking and writing about it.

In many of your organisations, an annual survey is rolled out to employees to gauge their level of engagement. If you are in a progressive organisation, the results are shared with everyone, and action plans are put in place in order to try and improve the scores where needed. The idea is to improve engagement, as this directly leads to better company performance.

Most of these surveys will reveal what employees think, among other things, of the pay package they receive. The survey will also reveal what are the main reasons that employees stay in the organisation.

I hope you get the results segregated by performance rating. It is important to see what your top performers are saying.

In the Middle East, many organisations claim or try to be among the best payers, so as to attract the best players.

Let me share a thought about the risks that exist when you stars confirm that statement and say that they are staying with your company because of the pay package they are receiving.

Trust me, this can happen. I once worked for an organisation where more than 50% of employees identified their compensation as the number 1 reason they were staying with the company… Scary….

Anyways – top performers who stay because of pay, will leave because of pay. Once they get a better offer elsewhere, they will have no hesitation about moving on.

And your best employees are often more valuable to other companies than they are to you.

Imagine : your organisation has a reputation of being good at developing people, or at getting results, or at grooming leaders, or at generating income. If that is the case, then these good outcomes and this development actually touch a vast portion of your organisation. After all, if your company is one of the bigger successes in its field, then a good chunk of the employees actually deliver more value than employees of competing companies.

So you actually have a relatively vast number of really good performers. Losing one of them is painful and costly, but it will not stop your organisation.

Now imagine the competing organisation. They are not doing as well as your company.

For them, getting one (or a few) of your top performers would dramatically improve their results, not just directly through the higher output of these employees but in multiple other ways :

  • These newcomers can spread best practice in the company.
  • They can jolt “asleep” employees awake by providing a bit of healthy internal competition.
  • They can help design better competitive strategies against your organisation as they know its processes in and out… as well as its limits, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
  • And if we are talking about sales people, then not only are these former top employees of yours bringing in the cash for your competition, but now you’ve also lost the income they were generating for you : so it’s a double win for your competition.

These are mighty serious reasons for your competition to offer a better package to your best employees.

So think about it when you analyse your employee engagement survey results. Employees who identify pay as their main reason to stay are waiving a big red flag at you. Time to meet with management and the rest of HR, and start working on your employee value proposition !


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  1. Janet Payne says

    Hi Sandrine

    Your comment “…your organisation has a reputation of being good at developing people” struck a cord with me. Admittedly this was when I worked for a company in the UK.

    Our administration teams used to go through a rigorous training programme in our in-house training academy the first year to 18 months they were employed. This laid the bed rock for handling calls and dealing with correspondence, as well as giving them a good level of technical understanding. The HR maanger of a competitor was quite open in her comments that it was cheaper for them to take someone from us, who had 18 to 24 months experience because of our training protocols than to take school leavers/graduates and train them themselves. The premium they paid to acquire this talent was more than offset by the time and resource that would have had to be applied to train them themselves.

    With graduates leaving University having accumulated sizeable debts it is understandable that they are salary motivated. So engagement at this level may also be an issue for retaining the new talent of the office.

  2. Hi Sandrine… thanks for sharing.. Yes. we need to treat the best performers in a different manner. Hence, organizations may come-up with attractive Increments / Career Development opportunities etc., to retain them. If orgn decides to go with median level increase, then, they may need to differentiate the best performers through offering 75th / 90th percentile as per the critical nature of the positions / employee performance in line with the market pay…

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