As a career strategist, each week I work with talented, capable, highly educated, and motivated people who are dissastified with their work. Some of them have aired their grievances to your deaf ears, and others don't feel they can openly communicate without risking their jobs.
These people are hiding in plain sight, and could skyrocket your profits, patch the holes in your systems, and energize the public about what you do. But without support and the right environment, they can't do that for you.
You're going to lose them.
They are making plans, now, to find a workplace that values them as people, as creators, and as contributors.
For most of you, it's too late. You can't overhaul a company culture quickly enough to retain these underused powerhouses. But if you want to make your company more hospitable to highly qualified, driven team members, here are some things you need to ensure for them:
They are excellent collaborators, and can follow instructions. In fact, they deeply appreciate guidelines and limitations. But once they have them, you need to turn them loose to do their work. They thrive when they have intensive work-alone time, balanced with feedback, instruction, and group interaction.
They wish we could do it all by themselves, but they usually can't. When they ask for support, take them seriously and work with them to find a solution. Even more refreshing, beat them to the punch and ask them how you or the company could support them. They're not trying to coast or get away with anything; they just need more manpower, time, or resources to do the job right.
This should be a no-brainer. When they're working, they shouldn't have to be concerned about their safety: physically, emotionally, sexually.
Some of you talk to your dog with more humanity than you talk to your employees. So unless someone is in danger, don't yell. Seriously. Get a grip.
And please, give them a clear and confidential way to report any abuses.
4. VERBAL RECOGNITION
They hate to admit it, but they are suckers for sincere and specific recognition. Tell them privately or tell them publicly, but let them know when they knock it out of the park. They'll work even harder for you for it.
5. SENSE OF OWNERSHIP
They don't need to literally have ownership in the company, but they want to feel integral and integrated. They want to have a stake in what goes on. Help them feel that what they're working towards is "ours," not just "yours."
6. SENSE OF PURPOSE
What is all this for? If it's to just buy your kid a pony, they're out. Money matters, but it's not their primary motivation. Reconnect to the mission and greater meaning of the work, and let that lead the way. Lead them that way.
7. COMPENSATION IN PROPORTION TO CONTRIBUTION
They work hard. Sometimes harder than they should, and definitely beyond their job description or contract (have you looked at their original job description lately?). Your verbal recognition is appreciated, but they need to feel it in the pocketbook as well. You can't buy their loyalty, but you can make them feel valued.
Good luck. Your people want to do a good job. They deeply want to please you and advance your goals, but you've got to make it meaningful for them.