Employees who are rated as top performers by their managers are three times more valuable to the organization than the average employee, according to the findings of a new study released on August 1 by corporate training and organizational consultancy VitalSmarts.

Based on an analysis of responses from 1,594 managers and peers, the study looked at the differences between employees who were given a rating of nine or 10 by their managers, and employees who received a lower rating. The results showed that the highly rated employees are seen as much more productive than their lower rated counterparts, with managers estimating that these top performers are responsible for 61% of the total work done in their departments.

Surprisingly, the study found that although these top performers appear to have heavy workloads, their
well-being or work/life balance does not seem to be suffering: 83% of managers and 77% of peers said they think the work habits of top performers tend to reduce rather than add to their stress levels. Moreover, 75% of managers and 63% of peers indicated they believe top performers have lower or about the same stress levels as average performers.

To determine which habits contribute most to high performance without inducing stress, researchers asked respondents to describe the positive work habits of top performers, along with the less-than-optimal work habits of average performers. The results showed that top performers have far superior communication and productivity practices: these employees were described as not being afraid to ask for help or to ask questions, and as knowing whom to go to and when to ask. Meanwhile, average performers were characterized as having poor communication and listening skills, being slow to respond, and being prone to complaining.

When asked to compare the productivity practices of top and average performers, respondents tended to describe the top performers as being organized and attentive to detail, having good time management skills, and having the ability to prioritize and to stay on top of their work. By contrast, average performers were seen as being inattentive, disorganized, and frequently short on time or late; and as lacking in the ability to consistently follow through, meet deadlines, and stay on task.

The research also showed that when employees who consistently demonstrate key productivity skills were compared with those who do not, productive people were rated as being 55 times less likely to start projects that never get finished, 21 times less likely to allow tasks and responsibilities to fall through the cracks, 17 times less likely to have an inbox with too many unread emails, 18 times less likely to feel overwhelmed, 21 times less likely to feel anxious and/or to worry they forgot something, and never likely to miss deadlines or assignments.

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 60, Issue 9

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