You care about the employee experience in your organization and investing in employee growth, but you’re not pursuing it in the most optimal way. When we talk about employee engagement and development, we usually focus on two groups: top performers and low performers. But we often overlook the middle performers. That’s a mistake. 

We focus on top performers because they create the most money, the most innovation, and the biggest contributions to the bottom line. Keep them engaged and performing at a high level and you’ll continue to benefit from their talent.

Bottom performers get a lot of attention because they cause the most headaches. They are usually the least engaged, the most prone to errors, and the most likely to cost you money. Coaching and development programs aimed at these employees attempt to reduce the burden they place on employers.

Don’t focus solely on your top-performers.

Recent data suggests middle performers are about 60% of the typical workforce, while the top and bottom performers make up the other 40%. Yes, retaining and developing top performers is a major priority. But it doesn’t make sense to do that at the expense of reliable, solid performers that are the majority of your workforce. In an era of historic talent shortages, investing in these employees could be a serious competitive edge.

Overinvesting In low-performing employees is usually a mistake.

We all want to turn low-performers into successes, but at some point you have to admit defeat. We’re all for second chances, but when employees consistently underperform in their roles it usually means they are either too disengaged or ill-suited to the role to ever be successful. 

Harvard research suggests hiring a high performer saves your organization $5,300 on average, but not hiring or quickly firing a toxic employee saves an average of $12,500. This doesn’t mean you need to start hunting for low performers to fire. It’s more about looking to avoid unproductive and costly, open-ended attempts at reforming them.

Today’s middle performer might be tomorrow’s superstar. 

You never really know who your next top performer will be. Someone may seem destined for greatness but never realize their potential. Others work quietly for years and suddenly seem to break out from nowhere. This unpredictability means investing in the development of middle performers is a smart bet. It produces incremental performance improvements for most of your workforce while increasing your chances of identifying more of the truly great performers.

Make the employee experience exceptional for everyone. 

Middle performers are the backbone of your organization, and their employee experience matters as much as, if not more than, that of top and bottom performers. Smart organizations will find opportunities to show their commitment to this often overlooked talent segment. 

Implement health and wellness programs that reduce stress while boosting engagement and productivity. If you offer a wellness program, make sure you have the technology (apps, tools, etc.) to offer it to all employees whether they work remote or in-person. Raise morale and performance by offering mindfulness training. Open up coaching and development programs that were previously only available to leadership and high-potential employees.  

Your organization can’t afford to ignore its middle performers any longer. If you haven’t begun the process already, start rethinking how your employee experience is structured. Invest in the middle. You won’t regret it.