High Performance Punishment

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A recent JobSage survey found that 78% of workers have experienced an increased workload with no additional compensation while 67% absorbed the work of a coworker who left the company. Of those surveyed, 57% have felt manipulated or taken advantage of.  If this is happening in your company, take a moment to consider what the practice of high performance punishment (aka “quiet promotion”) is doing to your star performers and to the overall morale in your organization.

High performance punishment is the negative effect that employees may face as a result of their exceptional performance. This usually includes increased responsibilities and tasks with no title change or increase in compensation. It’s likely to happen following someone from the organization leaving or being laid off, but it can happen in any circumstance, such as overcompensating for underperformers.

The survey also revealed that only a mere 22% actively refused the quiet promotion. An organization who quietly promotes their employees can face significant consequences. Not only does this effect the company’s bottom line as turnover and vacancies increase, but it’s also a powerful blow to overall company culture and morale, producing resentment among coworkers and managers. Overworking top performers leads to burnout, decreased job satisfaction, decline in performance, and ultimately turnover. The growing workload continues to get distributed among the top performers and the cycle continues until the organization is no longer viable.

To avoid burning out top performers, it starts with your leadership team. Strong leaders are able to communicate effectively and find ways to balance responsibilities while still prioritizing employee wellbeing. Having the wrong person in charge can be detrimental – this requires empathy, objectivity, and strategic thinking. Additionally, companies must take into consideration and encourage work-life balance within their culture, including setting clear mutual boundaries with their employees about their work expectations with a clear career development path. Managers must make sure to continually recognize, acknowledge, and reward the contributions of top performers and continue to provide the support, resources, and training necessary to help these employees, and the overall organization, continue to be successful.  Not all employees are comfortable speaking up and advocating for themselves, so it is critical that your leaders pay attention to workloads, be proactive in preventing inequities, and address imbalance quickly and decisively.




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