Every team has one: the worker who does more and does better than everyone else. Maybe they came in with impeccable credentials; maybe they are hustling hard to prove their worth. Soon enough, that worker is going to realize they can find a better position with better pay somewhere else. Your job is to delay that inevitability and keep this golden employee on the books.
But how? How can you stop your worker from seeing someone else’s green grass?
The solution is simple: You need to make your grass as green as possible. Here are a few ways you can keep your best employee occupied at your company, so they can keep doing more, better work for you:
Don’t Be a Hover Boss
Nothing drives independent, capable employees away faster than a helicopter boss. In their attempts to show approval and appreciation, some managers and directors hover over their favorite employees, giving them advice, checking their work or merely engaging them in conversation. All this targeted attention will make them feel special, right?
Unfortunately, hovering around your best employee’s desk is both preventing them from doing their work and driving them away from their current position. Just as you wouldn’t want your superior lingering around your work station, you shouldn’t expect your employee to be thrilled by your constant presence. In fact, you should give them more space – and more authority – to let them shine.
Provide Physical Tokens of Appreciation
You give your loved ones presents, like jewelry or tools, so when they use their gifts, they’ll think of you. The same principle works for employees: By handing them a physical token of your appreciation, they will have something tangible to see and connect them to your organization. It is much more difficult to leave a position in the past when they have a physical reminder to contend with.
You should try to make your token of appreciation as lavish as possible. A cheapo tchotchke from the dollar store will work against your goal; your employee will look at it and think you don’t understand their true worth. Instead, custom crystal awards inscribed with their name, title and company name should do the trick.
Ask for Feedback and Input — and Listen
As someone who breaks their back regularly for the company, your best employee has plenty of experience with regards to your policies and processes. Undoubtedly, that means your worker has many opinions on how those polices and processes can be better. By asking for feedback on their current position, you could receive some excellent ideas for improving business, so you should pay close attention to what they say. More importantly, you will allow your best employee to air any grievances and engage more fully with the organization. You shouldn’t ask for feedback just once; rather, you should schedule regular meetings with your star worker. In fact, you might go out of your way to ask your golden employee for their opinions on problems you or other workers face.
Be Liberal With Raises and Title Changes
The primary reason young workers job hop is to gain the raises and title changes they crave. Most employers are unwilling to promote from within, either due to the belief that “out there” has something better than “in here,” because they don’t want to poach high-performing employees from their current positions or for some other obscure and incomprehensible reason.
You better believe that your best employee knows their worth, and they will leave sooner rather than later to find the position (and pay) they deserve. Thus, you should offer this employee regular raises and promotions to keep them satisfied under your employ. Even better, you should cultivate a corporate culture of promoting from within, which will reduce your turnover rates all-around.
Give Them the Best Perks
Employees can find mediocre health plans anywhere, and more and more companies are offering flexible telecommuting. What will keep an employee around aren’t the benefits you find at every employer; you need to offer something special, and something valuable, to attract attention and earn loyalty.
You should talk to your employees to determine what perks they most desire. These days, contributions to a 401k are few and far between, so helping employees safe for retirement is a major benefit. You might also offer enviable perks for parents, like extended, paid parental leave or on-site day care, as well as the European style of PTO.
More likely than not, you can’t keep your golden employee around forever – but you can keep them around for a few years more with the above strategies. Modify your negative behaviors, offer something special for sticking around and remind them of your appreciation for their work, and you’ll cultivate a workforce made of solid gold.