How to Engage Top Talent – What Keeps Star Employees Engaged?

How to Engage Top Talent – What Keeps Star Employees Engaged?
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How to Engage Top Talent When It Matters Most

It is not easy to keep star employees engaged.  How to engage top talent is an ongoing conversation among talent management leaders; and it can make or break your talent management strategy.  If you are losing some of your best employees or if you are afraid your top talent is becoming disengaged, then this employee engagement and retention article is for you.

The Cost of Losing Top Talent
It’s bad enough to lose any productive, experienced employee but when you lose your top, difficult-to-replace talent, it’s painful! Not only do other employees start to question their own loyalty, but the project they were working on is often at risk.

How to Engage Top Talent So Star Employees Thrive
All along you have tried to treat these high performing employees differently by recognizing their special contributions — but you must have missed something.  Here’s a list from organizational culture assessment data of what star employees need and want in order to stay engaged and committed to their current job:

  1. Challenges and Opportunities to Grow
    Star employees are ambitious. High performers want to continue to learn new skills and stretch themselves.

    Smart employers offer a variety of ways they can increase their professional worth through high stakes projects, stretch assignments, a respected executive mentor, inclusion in high-level strategy sessions, opportunities for formalized professional education, and a clear career path forward.

  2. Autonomy
    Top talent typically rebels against micro-management. Your best employees want to be able to make decisions and prioritize their own activities without someone looking over their shoulder all the time. To be sure, you need to establish clear expectations for job performance and then you should back off.

    Let your top employees navigate their own path to the goals. They have the intelligence and the drive to get there on their own.

  3. Reasonable Workload
    Your high performing employees work hard, and they are able to accomplish a lot more in less time than the average employee. But you should not take advantage of their high performance by loading on too much work. Check in before you assign more — especially with those who are asked to be player-coaches in their management role.

    They will appreciate that you care about their well-being and their work-life balance. Don’t punish their efficiency with too many assignments at once.

  4. Strategic Direction
    Keep your top talent well informed of the corporate strategy and make sure they understand just where they fit in the overall scheme of things. They are not “fed” by simply checking tasks off a list of to-do’s.

    High performers want to know the big picture strategy of where their team and the company are headed.  To keep them engaged, they need to work with a bigger purpose in view.

  5. Accountability for All
    Your “A” players like to know where they stand vis-à-vis other employees. They are proud of their accomplishments — the recognition of their superior performance is important to them and spurs others on to greater levels of effort and achievement.

    What they don’t like is when a team (or organization) tolerates sub-standard performance.  If you allow below-average workers to stay without a plan for their improvement and proof that they are making progress, your top talent will leave a culture that does not hold workers accountable.

The Bottom Line
Your star employees are in a class of their own. They need special treatment if you want to keep them on board and fully engaged. Review your employee engagement and retention strategies against this list. If anything’s missing, act fast or another star may fall from your sky.

Want to learn more about how to engage top talent?  Download The Only 16-Step Employee Retention Strategy for Top Talent You Need

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