If you’re the boss or manager of a business, you more than likely are able to name your best employees off the top of your head. You know they are the hardest working people you have under you, and you know that they’ll do anything to keep business moving forward. However, this doesn’t mean they should be taken for granted. If your best employees don’t feel like you acknowledge them as being such, they may start to look elsewhere. Your best employees could fly the coop if you don’t make sure to avoid these seven human resource blunders:
1. Unfair compensation
The best employees pride themselves on a job well done. They come in every day hitting the ground running, and don’t stop until the end of their shift (or later, as the case may be). However, if their talents, drive, and willingness to go the extra mile go unrewarded for too long, one of two things could occur. Your best employees may start to slack off when they realize everyone else makes the same amount of money they do, regardless of the effort they put in to their work. If they don’t go this route, they’ll more than likely start looking elsewhere for employment in which their salary is entirely contingent upon the effort they put into their duties.
2. Poor work-life balance
My father, who works as a teacher, has a reputation around my hometown of being an incredible carpenter, and when summer rolls around people call him non-stop asking if he can build a deck for them or put some other addition onto their house. It’s something a lot of people can’t do, but since my father has done it well before, others think it’s “easy” for him. He is definitely a master of the craft, but he doesn’t consider it an easy task to complete. And it definitely hurts to have people say, “Oh, John can take care of that for you,” as if he has nothing else to do with his life in the summer.
The same goes for your best employees. Just because they’re efficient and quick-working in whatever needs to be done doesn’t mean it’s not hard work, and it doesn’t mean they truly enjoy it. If you put too much on your best employee’s shoulders, so much so that he misses out on other aspects of life (due either to time constraints or sheer exhaustion), he will eventually shrug everything off and realize his paycheck isn’t worth the stress.
3. Lack of appreciation
I’m not saying your employees need a cookie after a job well done (although it wouldn’t hurt!). But I am saying their hard work and diligence needs to be celebrated in some way or another. Even a simple “thank you” can go a long way in the busy rat-race of the business world. Take the time to have employee of the month awards, or time to recognize improved performances. Also, though hard work is what you pay your employees to do, don’t simply expect them to go the extra mile as the status quo. When workers go above and beyond the call of duty, be sure to recognize that publicly, so others feel motivated to push themselves as well.
4. They’re not supported
We’ve all heard the saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” In other words, the employees who don’t give their all, or aren’t exactly competent and up to the task at hand, are the ones that sometimes get all the attention. Like I said before, just because someone is a hard worker who usually can figure things out for himself, that doesn’t mean he should feel as if he can’t come to you with a problem.
Star employees are great workers for a reason: they understand the business and are able to think ahead. But this means nothing if their voices aren’t heard. If they come to you with a concern, take it seriously, and act upon it immediately. They might not be in a position in which their opinion matters much to the company, but if they reach out to you, don’t blow them off. If you do, you run the risk of them becoming disgruntled and unsatisfied with their current position.
5. A negative work environment
Being a shining star in a sea of mediocrity can be incredibly taxing on a person’s psyche. While everyone else goes about their workday with a scowl on their face, top employees often try to make the best of awful situations, no matter how difficult it can be to do so. Negative employees can bring productivity down to a minimum, and will foil any attempt a star employee makes at bringing morale up. If this goes on for too long, even your best employees will start to dread coming to work every day. As the boss, it’s your job to cultivate a working community of people who are happy to be where they are, and all working toward a common goal.
When an employee thinks you’re hiding something from the rest of the crew, he’ll start to second-guess every decision you make. He’ll wonder if you have an ulterior motive for switching up the schedule, or pairing him with a difficult employee. You’ll lose the trusting relationship you once had, and he’ll constantly doubt whether or not the decisions you make will actually benefit the company. Furthermore, if you start to spring changes of policy on your employees without their input and with no notice, they certainly won’t trust you anymore, as, for all they know, each day could be their last working for the company. Though there are definitely some things that can be kept on a “need to know” basis, make sure that your staff knows about major shifts in policy and procedure well in advance if you want to continue forging a trusting relationship with them.
7. Promoting from the outside
Absolutely nothing can bruise a relationship with a star employee more than keeping them stuck in the position they’re currently in when a promotion comes across the board. This is especially true when employers take in an outsider as a “consultant” or some other title that is meant to specifically keep a great employee in the position they’re in. Many employers will do this because they don’t want to lose that employee in that position, but doing so will almost certainly have the opposite effect: Why should someone work hard if they have no chance of moving up within the company? A move like this will definitely leave your best employees so disillusioned that they’ll immediately start looking for a promotion elsewhere.
Featured photo credit: Employee Ownership/Cabinet Office via farm8.staticflickr.com