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In the recent Q3 Global Talent Monitor prepared by Gartner Inc (see table below)., it shows that Australian employees now measure as one of the three key drivers of attrition the “quality of their co-workers”. This metric has moved up eight positions since the previous quarter. Is it just employees getting tired toward the end of the year, or it is something more?

How can employers ensure the quality of their employees? Quality workers are those workers that we all want to employ: the worker that gets in, gets the job done, causes little fuss and someone who delivers consistent performance. These same people are marketable, so attracting and retaining quality employees will not happen without some effort and attention by the employer.

Ask yourself the questions below to see whether your business meets some of the basic hygiene factors which will see most employees succeed as quality employees.


  • Do you have a good business brand that is attractive to prospective employees?

  • Is your business paying competitively to secure talent?

  • Aside from salary, are other workplace benefits, work flexibilities and career opportunities available to grow and retain your employees?


  • Are you prioritising recruitment activities and aiming for a speedy process, so as not to miss out on (or disillusion) the best applicants?

  • Are your Hiring Managers clear on the scope of the role and are they skilled interviewers, able to identify talent?

  • Are you undertaking reference checks from recent supervisors and probing any areas of concern which you may have, also finding out how best to motivate and manage this individual?


  • Do you have employment contracts and position descriptions which ensure role clarity and set down terms and conditions which apply?

  • Are the key results areas / KPI’s and other expectations explained and monitored, with corrective action taken immediately if not achieved?

  • Do new employees undergo orientation and have an appointed buddy – someone who they can ask questions of without the real or perceived fear of appearing unknowledgeable?

Probation Period

  • Do you have a formal (or even informal) probationary review process where feedback is given and received, and concerns are actioned immediately?

  • Does the culture support an environment where honest open communication exists and is encouraged, and that those that speak honestly are heard and no reprisal follows?

Tip - Except for genuine mitigating circumstances which may occur during probation, or dependent on further training and qualifications, what you see of a new employee’s behaviour (and ergo) performance in probation may be the best you will ever see it. At the end of probation, you have accepted their performance benchmark as to what they can deliver, and a level that you would not like to see them drop below. A good question to ask is, “If you could deliver performance during probation, then why not now?” and “What has happened to change this?” and be prepared to enter into discussion as to how you might be able to reasonably support them to improve.

Beyond the probationary period, how an employee is treated, managed, encouraged, motivated, included, empowered, developed and supported will ultimately determine how much discretionary effort they apply to their job and what level of performance they deliver. If there are failings in these areas, underperformance can and most likely will occur. These aspects are not covered in this blog but are nevertheless leadership essentials.

So okay, you’ve done all the right things yet you find you have an underperforming employee. By setting up a culture whereby employees have the opportunity to develop a relationship and a bond with their Supervisors will assist greatly with any performance discussions to be had.

Looking at it from the employee perspective for a moment, I think we can all say from experience that there is nothing more frustrating than working alongside or having to rely on a non-performer. Nothing more frustrating either to see that the underperformance is allowed to continue, seemingly ignored, because after all, how long should it take for all to see an improvement if underperformance is being managed? Add into the mix that other employees need to carry the underperformer, who may be earning the same or more than their performing peers. Worse still, if others feel the inaction is due to favouritism.

There is probably not a Manager out there who hasn’t avoided embarking on the performance management of an employee at one point or another. This is more likely avoided if that employee is overly sensitive, confrontational, very vocal or highly emotional, or in environments where open honest communication is not part of the organisational culture. Sometimes, the fear of litigation also prevents action, which is what can occur by the time the situation festers.

Acting swiftly, fairly and decisively and outlining specific concerns and examples to the underperformer and clearly stating the level of performance that is expected and having open dialogue about why their performance has dropped is essential.

Even the most highly motivated employee will become demoralised and their behaviour and performance may deteriorate in the company of non-performers. Additionally, if other workplace needs such as being respected or given development opportunities are not being met, they may likely just move on – which is what this survey is indicating.

Losing existing employees and their organisational knowledge is costly. I consider that focussing on the ‘basic hygiene factors’ outlined above will give every business the very best opportunity to attract and retain quality employees.

We can see from the survey that the three key drivers of attrition are Respect (or lack of), Development Opportunity and Co-worker quality. Let’s now focus on the situation of those good staff that are leaving because of underperforming employees.

Talk to me today about how I can help your business with the implementation of basic hygiene factors or specific performance concerns.

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