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Blog > Workforce Matters

Survey: Engaging and Retaining Top Performers is Viewed as a Major Challenge

XpertHR Explains How to Keep Top Performers From Leaving

Employee engagement and performance are hot button issues because organizations with engaged employees typically have better financial and production performance than organizations with disengaged employees, says a new XpertHR report. However, engaging and retaining top performers can be a struggle.

A recent XpertHR survey found that 49% of HR professionals were very or extremely challenged when it came to increasing employee engagement, morale and satisfaction. The survey also found that 48% viewed retaining employees as very or extremely challenging; and 46% viewed aligning talent retention strategy with business objectives as very or extremely challenging.

The unemployment rate stands at 4.0 percent and approximately 304,000 jobs were created in January 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job candidates have many choices and the tight labor market is a very real problem for HR professionals who are trying to attract and retain high quality applicants.

Turnover that is avoidable (for example, because of poor management) and dysfunctional (losing employees that are top performers) can adversely affect an organization. Because a significant percentage of organizational or team output is often attributable to a top performer, a business should focus on retaining this type of employee.

“Common reasons that drive employees to search for alternative employment include leaving because they are dissatisfied with their current employment situation; or a better job is available,” says Marta Moakley, JD, XpertHR Legal Editor. “Of particular concern is the loss of key employees - high performers and those with hard-to-replace skills.”

Employers not only need to understand what is pushing employees to leave the organization, but also what is pulling them to stay. The promotion of employee engagement pulls employees to stay and thrive in their jobs. Employee engagement yields more than just employee satisfaction. An engaged employee is elevated to one who is committed to the organization and motivated to perform at sustainably high levels.

“An employer with an engaged workforce can experience higher productivity, higher profitability, and lower absenteeism and turnover rates,” says Robert S. Teachout, SHRM-SCP, XpertHR Legal Editor. “Engagement is the key to retaining top performers and finding ways to retain their best employees remains a concern for most organizations.”

While pay is an important factor in keeping high potential employees in place, engagement is a crucial step that employers can take to retain top performers.  

Employers that want to improve employee engagement should follow these steps:

  1. Plan and prepare an engagement campaign
  2. Prepare and conduct an initial employee engagement survey
  3. Consider conducting an employee job satisfaction survey, but use caution, as engagement and job satisfaction do not necessarily correlate with each other.
  4. Roll out the engagement campaign
  5. Request and provide feedback to each employee on a regular basis
  6. Evaluate the engagement campaign

For a copy of XpertHR’s Retaining Top Performers whitepaper, visit XpertHR. Or download a copy of XpertHR’s Improving Employee Engagement Checklist.

About XpertHR

XpertHR helps build successful workforces by providing practical tools, expert resources and agile HR solutions at the federal, state and municipal level to help businesses stay a step ahead.