Human resources statisticians calculate that high performers often deliver 400% more productivity than the average employee. So while we hate when they leave, is it all bad?
The other day one of our executives showed me a brilliant spreadsheet that he has relied on for years, recalling fondly that the spreadsheet was created by a high-performing employee who had left the firm after 18 months. The conversation spun me back to the hiring discussion for said high performer: a discussion that centered on whether we should or should not hire a star candidate we couldn’t envision would stick around for long. We took the gamble, made the hire, enjoyed having our high performer on the job for 18 months, and continue to reap the benefits of his tenure years later.
We lose on investments made in training, time taken to build institutional knowledge of the firm, and dollars lost to re-entering the talent wars to refill the position—I get it. However, I argue that the gains often far outweigh the losses. High performers can put systems (like brilliant spreadsheets) into place that streamline operations for years. Gifted strategists can inspire new ways of doing things and as employees they are often compensated less than pricey management consultants. Are there marketers amongst us who wouldn’t benefit from a fresh suite of ideas that we can implement long after a high performer moves on to sprinkle magic dust at the next A/E/C firm? I recommend delighting in the contributions made by superstars, whether they stay or go.
The following are notes to keep in mind. One, I’m not a human resources expert and I don’t write on behalf of my firm’s standing on this topic. Two, like most SMPS readers I’m a hopeless optimist—so if you have a big achiever that you’re not willing to lose, check out this neat Harvard Business Review article
which identifies seven mistakes to avoid in the quest to keep top talent.