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Don’t Forget to Recognize Your Top Performers


It might sound like strange advice, but it bears repeating: don’t forget to recognize employees who are consistent top performers.

It might sound like strange advice, but it bears repeating: don’t forget to recognize employees who are consistent top performers. Your best employees create such a sense of ease and comfort in their daily work we can sometimes mistake high performance for high job satisfaction and prioritize recognizing middle or low performers instead.

Transactional Thinking

It’s easy to get caught up thinking employee recognition is transactional – I give you x amount of recognition until you reach y level of performance, and that equals more profits. But the proposition is a bit more complicated than that. Employee recognition has always been about more than the give and take. It’s also about the daily interactions, human relationships, and cultivating an identity around showing gratitude for great work, a.k.a. culture building.

Everyone should be included in that workplace culture. No matter how an employee is performing, getting overlooked for hard work disappoints all the same, and being recognized for a job well done boosts confidence all the same.

High Cost of High Performance

Making matters worse, high performers often have the worst jobs. In his Forbes piece 3 Reasons Why High Performers Are Often Miserable, bestselling author and human capital researcher Mark Murphy elaborates:

Imagine it’s Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. and the board requests a major report due on Monday at 9 a.m. It’s a tight deadline, and this report could derail your career if it’s not done right. You’re going to need help to get the report written which means that you and someone else are in for a rough weekend of work. So, who do you turn to for help: the employee who gives 100% effort, or the employee who gives 50% effort? Obviously, you’re going to turn to the high performer who gives 100% effort.

Also consider that being high performers they are more in demand on the job market and therefore more susceptible to voluntary turnover. If their InMail is blowing up with offers they will certainly take note when their work isn’t called out or appreciated. They need just as much support and attention as those who might still be growing into their roles.

The Great Equalizer

There’s a reason the term “employee experience” is replacing “employee engagement” in the HR space. Organizations are learning that companywide recognition platforms can be leveraged to fine-tune the daily experience every employee receives and deliver a consistent message to everyone – that we all need some recognition for our work to remind us it’s worth something. Recognition programs can be great equalizers, showing your employees that hard work is rewarded on its own merits, and everyone is supported.