Top performers have an incredibly high ROI
Articles from academics don’t always provide practical lessons, but there have been two recent ones that everyone in talent management should pay attention to.
The results of the first one focus on the output differential produced by top performers. This study published in February in Personnel Psychology which cut across several industries, revealed that the top 5 percent of the workforce at the researched firms produced 26 percent of the firm’s total output. The top-performing 5 percent produced 400 percent more than you would expect (26 percent rather than 5 percent).
That means that top performers have an incredibly high ROI because they produce more than four times more; however, they are generally paid less than 20 percent over an average worker in the same job.
Just like on the business side of the enterprise where the 80/20 rule prevails (80 percent of your profit comes from 20 percent of your products) there should be a similar 80/20 rule covering employee performance. This disproportional impact means that despite the fact that many in HR are enamored with the practice of “treating everyone equally,” it turns out that that approach may be well-intentioned but misguided because in business, just like sports and entertainment, top performers have a significantly higher business impact than the average. Top performers need to be prioritized.