Shareholders and highly compensated executives whose holidays include potential bonuses are obvious stakeholders in a company’s success. But employees standing further down the corporate ladder don’t necessarily assume the company’s success automatically translates into personal success. Some of these workers survived the recession but suffered substantial pay cuts. They read corporations are financially bouncing back but are told big raises are not on the horizon. The salary that was lost will not be won back anytime soon.
Some employees are happy just to have a job. Others are too close to retirement to raise a ruckus. And some feel trapped without options. But top performers will eventually exit when the evidence shows hard work only pays off for those at the tippy top. A team can continue to compete even if one or two stars move on. But as sports often display, those teams start to fade, and before a boss begins to know it, rebuilding is in order. Competing for a championship was yesterday’s news. Unlike in sports, some businesses don’t get a chance to rebuild.
If you can’t offer top employees the raise they feel they deserve, explain why without the BS. (No matter how cleverly you spin it, your words won’t cover the stink of a raise that doesn’t even keep up with inflation.) Include those employees in key meetings and ask them for feedback in key decisions. Clue them in to future changes and exciting ideas. Pull them off to the side casually and bounce ideas off them. Make these employees feel their opinions help direct a division or company. Make them feel they truly are part of the success and should continue to invest their time.
If you don’t reward someone with a raise plus don’t give them decision-making power … plus don’t make their opinion wanted on key aspects, top performers typically aren’t going to play puppet while you pull the strings. The ambitious ones need more to push their passion.
That co-worker I walked with felt the company didn’t show her the value. (They already weren’t showing her the money.) I could see even a “you’re important to this company” would have lifted her spirits. The economic recovery is developing slowly. But overall, the news is more good than bad. Now more than ever, keep your team, your lineup intact.
Remember this. When teams are forced to rebuild after falling apart, often the coach is the first to go.
We want to hear from you. What are some innovative ways your company has made employees feel part of the team? How are employees included in key decisions? What kinds of reward programs are in place at your company?