5 Things High Potential Employees Want... and How You Can Deliver Them

by Sharlyn Lauby | Posted | Performance Management

5 Things High Potential Employees Want... and How You Can Deliver Them

It won't come as a big surprise that employers currently face the biggest talent shortages since 2006, according to Manpower's 2018 Talent Shortage Survey. Organizations need to be aware that in today's recruiting market, employees have choices about where they apply, what companies they interview with and ultimately, where they decide to work.

At Saba Insight 2018, Dr. Henryk Krajewski, president of the Anderson Leadership Group, focused his session on the choices made by employees – especially high-potential (HiPo) and high-performing employees. Krajewski noted that HiPo employees select the organization versus the organization selecting them. So why are candidates in the driver's seat when it comes to the talent acquisition process? It's because the top five percent of the company's workforce is responsible for 30 percent of organizational output.

This rationale leads to a bigger question and one that some organizations don't often like to admit. If the organization's high-potential and high-performing talent are more valuable because they deliver greater results, then how can companies give those individuals greater rewards without alienating the rest of the workforce?

But, is it fair?

It's important to note when addressing employee wants and needs that the terms "fair" and "equal" are not the same thing. This sounds obvious, but some organizations give employees the exact same things, even when employees achieve different results. And they say that the reason they're doing it is to be "fair." The reality is... the company is being "equal."

The goal should be for organizations to provide a "fair" employee experience. Of course, that would include a certain amount of "equal." For example, Krajewski in his session outlined five qualities that high-potential employees want in their employer:

  1. Honesty from their manager
  2. Integrity in senior management
  3. Belonging in terms of connecting to the company
  4. Camaraderie with the members of their team
  5. Pride in the organization's mission and values

Learning what high-performing employees want... and giving them what they need

The good news is that every employee wants these things. And chances are that most, if not all, of them cost nothing (at least in terms of hard costs). Organizations that make these qualities a priority provide a desirable employee experience for everyone and, at the same time, reduce incidents of manager favoritism.

The other piece of good news from this list is that if organizations commit to creating an environment where all communications are honest, people act with integrity and everyone works together well, then they can fairly address the three things that high-potential and high-performing employees need to be successful:

High-potential employees want to work with managers who will act as a role model. The key to creating a fair work environment is honesty and integrity. Organizations should want their current and future leaders to demonstrate these qualities. Allowing HiPo employees to work with their role models creates not only excellent future leaders but a trusting workplace culture.

They want opportunities to practice new skills in a safe environment. Whether it's a formal or informal program, HiPo employees want to know they can learn new things and the organization is going to invest in their future. This can happen through training and development, coaching and mentoring or unique work assignments. Not everyone is going to receive the same opportunities, but again, it's about being fair.

And finally, HiPo employees want to know it's okay to stumble and possibly even fail. All employees make mistakes. Some of them are big, and others, small. Employees want to know that making an honest mistake isn't a career-limiting move and that, depending on the situation, they can have the chance to recover. Managers have to be given the tools to train, coach and mentor employees through their mistakes so they can improve their already high performance.

Let's face the truth. While all employees contribute to the organization, some employees contribute more. It's a fact of business life. Organizations that want to hire, engage and retain HiPo employees will need to create a work environment that allows them to give a fair employee experience. Because those high-performing employees expect it.

Cracking the Code to High Potential Employees

Learn how to attract and retain your best talent with Dr. Henryk Krajewski.


Watch Now
Cover of the book
Cover of the book

Cracking the Code to High Potential Employees

Learn how to attract and retain your best talent with Dr. Henryk Krajewski.


Watch Now


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