• Phyllis Harbinger

Why your MVEs (Most Valuable Employees) are most likely to leave the nest & how to keep them happy


As I always say to my strategy clients and in every presentation I have given, saying THANK YOU is the most important thing you can do for members of your team. Letting them know they did a great job or how much you appreciate their efforts can go a long way to sustaining their long-term relationship with your firm. While you may be saying “They are just doing the job I am paying them to do” the real truth is that people still need to feel appreciated and be rewarded with something other than a paycheck.


According to a report from Leadership IQ, your most productive employees are also often the least engaged and more likely to quit than their lower-performing peers. Fascinating, right? The reasons include less time spent onboarding and motivating employees; lack of recognition and challenges in the workplace, performance issues that reflect upon them, and a perceived lack of opportunity for advancement.


The last issue is to me the most important, especially for a small firm. You may not believe that you have an opportunity to support advancement, so you are consistently replacing valuable employees, spending time teaching new hires your office culture and procedures, when there are many ways in which this can be prevented.


Below are some additional tips that can help you to retain those MVE’s in your organization.


Giving them challenging assignments/project lead roles and ownership of their work is key to keeping employees motivated. As they mature with your firm, allow them to show their leadership abilities by managing other team members.


Avoid boredom! Ask what would excite them and give them flexibility where possible to focus on these types of projects and tasks. Stretch their knowledge base and allow them to build their skill sets with online learning, taking a course or attending a conference. Push them out of their comfort zone with roles that may challenge them and keep them happy.


And give those employees continual feedback on their performance—something high-performing workers thrive on. “The most talented employees seek to improve everything”.


Give them a raise: While a high performing team member may be looking for the challenge, they also will feel more valued by their employer if a raise is offered to reward their significant contribution to your firm. Compensation can be blended, a salary increase with a flex day or a day that the employee can work from home. It does not all have to come in a large pay raise.


Accountability: You do not want a low performing employee to rock the boat. Many high performers with major talent will leave when they feel the balance of power is not in alignment. Low performing employees can create havoc on your team, with your rock stars having to pick up the pieces to get the projects completed properly. They can adversely affect the morale of the workplace so be on alert and always take steps to either improve their performance or LET THEM GO!


Reward great work: Retreats, spa days, employee appreciation days or experiential events are super important to building and maintaining a productive and effective team.


As a business owner, it is your responsibility to keep your finger on the pulse of your organization and make sure you are running a well-oiled machine. Using some of the best practices described above can help to motivate and retain your MVE’s.

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