The number one reason people stay at a job is because they like their co-workers and their immediate supervisor. This is true whether the employee is your top performer or not.
But no one wants to lose their top performers. The learning and production curve for your office would be greatly impacted if your top performers left. So how do you keep those top performers when we are operating under tight fiscal budgets, few opportunities for promotion and Continuing Resolutions?
There is no one set answer that will motivate our workforce. As leaders we need to know our people and determine which benefit will make the most impact.
Here are some suggestions that have worked for other companies. Find a challenging project or assignment that ignites their passion. This will provide opportunities where they can build their skills and will also serve to highlight their abilities. And make sure they understand that these assignments are your vote of confidence in them.
If you have not already done so, find your top performers a mentor that is more senior than they are. This will help the employee with their career development while job opportunities are lean. This way when an opportunity presents itself, they are prepared.
There are so many non-monetary perks that cost little or nothing that you can provide e.g., flexibility, better work/life balance, or more autonomy. Be specific in your praise for good work and make sure that you over communicate. Open communication with your top performer is critical.
Check out this article in Forbes magazine for the Top Ten Reasons Why Large Companies Fail to Keep Their Best Talent and for more on retaining top performers; check out this free short video Management tutorial: Retaining your superstars.