Recognition and Meaningful Work Motivate Highly Skilled Professionals

“Highly skilled professionals are the backbone of organizations, the star performers, the ‘Steady Freddys’ who keep companies running day in and day out,” said Cori Hill, Korn Ferry lead for High Potential Development. “Too often organizations spend most of their efforts on attracting and developing high-potential talent - those employees they see as future leaders - at the expense of investments in highly skilled professionals and individual contributors.”
Korn Ferry’s July 2017 survey of nearly 1,000 professionals and executives found that more than two-thirds of respondents (68 percent) said that the top reason highly skilled professionals would choose one employer over another is the promise of meaningful work. Only 4 percent said better compensation is the top reason these professionals would choose one employer over another. When asked why highly skilled professionals would leave an organization, the majority (53 percent) said the top reason would be a lack of their organization’s willingness to recognize the value of their expertise.
“All too often, employers don’t see the true value of these highly skilled employees until they leave, at times taking with them the knowledge and intellectual property that makes the organization successful,” said Hill. “To retain members of this group, employers should offer them opportunities to continue to learn, to gain recognition by sharing their expertise across the organization and resist micromanaging their day-to-day efforts.”
When asked what matters most to members of this group, respondents were split between their ability to grow their professional skills (42 percent) and being recognized as subject matter experts (49 percent). Trailing dramatically as to what matters most to highly skilled professionals was a promotion at 7 percent and a raise at 2 percent.
“It’s important to understand that highly skilled professionals still want to be compensated fairly, but they see pay as table stakes,” said Hill. “They are more connected to the work than the paycheck, and focus on the outcomes of their efforts.”
The survey found that the vast majority of respondents (77 percent) say there is not a clear path for advancement for highly skilled professionals, and 78 percent say their organization does not have a way to reward them other than a raise or promotion.
“Professional development and opportunities to hone their skills are real drivers for highly skilled employees,” said Hill. “One idea organizations could implement is to form a focus group of these professionals to formulate development paths that would provide true impact.”
Source:  Korn Ferry (via Wolters Kluwer)