How to keep hold of your high performing team members

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January 2022

Written by Adam Richardson (adam.richardson@arresourcing.com), Managing Director and Owner of AR Resourcing. Adam has over 20 years’ experience recruiting procurement and commercial professionals across the built environment industries.

Team members resigning is generally a nuisance, but when it is one of your star performers it is more than that. Whether they have excellent or rare technical skills, relationships that would be hard to replicate or something else that sets them apart from their colleagues, losing these individuals can be a real set back. So how do you identify who they are? And what can you do to keep them? 

Star performers currently in demand

Shortages of procurement and commercial professionals across the construction sector are driving up salaries generally, not simply amongst top performers. However, this means that once your best people start looking they will likely get multiple offers quickly and, given the demand for good people, replacing or even retaining them will be disproportionately challenging and costly. Ensuring these individuals are happy before they receive an approach makes a recruiter’s job of interesting them in opportunities far, far harder. So how do you identify which of your best people are most likely to leave?

Prioritising your high performers

Managers should know who the star performers in a team are, so get them to identify which team members would be the greatest loss. Using this list then rank your staff by the likelihood they will progress a call from a recruiter. This is an art not a science but, among other things, consider:

  • are they paid under the market average?
  • have they been in the same role for 3+ years?
  • is their skillset underutilised in their current role?
  • are they missing a clear development plan?
  • do they have ability but are underperforming or lack motivation?

Further to identifying how likely it is that these key team members will leave it is also worth considering both the impact that their leaving would have and how challenging it would be to find an appropriate replacement. Where resources are limited this can help to further prioritise which employees to focus on keeping happy. 

Retaining your high performers

Strategies for retaining high performing team members involve a combination of ensuring they feel valued, that they have the structure around them to do their best work and that they believe that they are making a difference. This requires regular communication and a willingness to reset the company’s relationship with them if they aren’t happy with the status quo. 

Having benchmarked industry salaries for their role, work with the individual on their Personal Development Plan (PDP). These individuals will understand that their success is linked to the success of the company as a whole so make sure that you are able to set out a clear vision for the company and the opportunities that this will open up for them. 

While high performers are generally self-starters who don’t need targets to motivate them, setting goals is nonetheless important to ensure that there is clarity between employer and employee as to what is expected and the rewards for success. Beyond long term targets and shorter-term milestones, the personal development plan should identify areas for development and any other support the individual would benefit from. 

Further to the PDP, the employer should look for other ways to make sure high performers understand how much the company values them, for example through personalising their benefits packages and eliminating nuisances that may otherwise irritate them, albeit at a low level. 

Developing a menu of benefits that can be used to engage staff is relatively quick and easy. Your recruitment consultant should be able to provide you with a list but it is also worth asking employees when they join or during exit interviews what benefits they have been offered and which they value. Where salaries are broadly aligned benefits packages are often the deciding factor.

In terms of fixing nuisance issues, most employees will have a list of trivial annoyances that will simply never be important enough to make it to the top of the company’s to do list. Get your top performers to share the little things that aggravate them and prioritise fixing these. From reducing their admin burden to offering some start / finish time flexibility, little things can significantly improve satisfaction. The objective is to make sure that not only do they know how valued they are but also to make sure that you are removing as many reasons as possible for them to think about entertaining calls from recruiters. 

Focusing so much attention on star performers may feel like creating a two tier system, however it is also a meritocracy that will inspire others to raise their games as they see the benefits and opportunities. The alternative is that you will likely lose more of your top people than you need to and that sends the message that the best people don’t see your company as the best bet for their future success. 

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: adam.richardson@arresourcing.com or call 0330 174 6801.

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