Finding Your Quiet Heroes in the Workplace

10 min. read

The Great Resignation has created an employee retention crisis and finding the overlooked performers in your ranks is more important than ever.

People quitting their current employment and looking for a new job used to happen a lot less than it does today. The number of people quitting jobs and looking for a Great Place to Work hit an all-time high in November last year according to the Labor Department. There is now a retention crisis in America.


The work landscape has changed so much over the past decade or two that the job market is a completely different animal. The global pandemic accelerated a shift to online work and many folks have taken a long look at their finances and lifestyles and made decisions accordingly. 54 percent of workers surveyed by ZipRecruiter said they preferred a job that let them work from home. There are more jobs available than ever and so the Great Resignation has taken hold. It makes things even more challenging if you are trying to keep a team together or make decisions about how to grow your business with your current trusted team members. Team leaders and managers are worrying if they will stick around. Workers are leaving jobs that require them to work in offices and taking jobs that give them more time at home. Worrying whether you can trust them to be there next month causes undue stress in a leadership position. 74 percent of employees feel they deserve more recognition.


As we move out of pandemic shutdowns and the economy opens up more and more consumer demand revs up across the board we see a shortage of good staff in many sectors. Job openings in hospitality are more readily available than ever and manufacturing is up. Looking for the best place to work has become a priority for many.


As the demand grows more people are needed to fulfill the demand but many Americans are staying away from the workforce or rethinking their careers and jobs. Some families have parents who need caring for. Their kids are now living with them and are still caring for retired parents with health issues. Some American families have young children and have been homeschooling. Some can’t find or afford child care. Many folks are also afraid of going to work in a crowded office or social setting because they are afraid of contracting COVID-19, especially with the emergence of new variants.


Many employers are offering more enticing packages with higher wages and even offering signing bonuses. Some companies have other perks to entice workers to jump ship and join their ranks.


Many exiting workers said that the reason they were leaving was due to burnout and an unequal work/life balance. Others cited a lack of growth opportunities as well as a lack of recognition. If you care about the business you are in and want the best team working with you, you will have to figure out a way to stop the flow of people leaving. You have to find the stars in your organization and try and make sure they are happy and want to stay with you. It is a relationship, not just a job.


Get to know the quiet achievers


Identify your overlooked performers. Get a handle on who is actually getting things done. Take a look at your statistics and analyze who the key performers are in the areas you need to retain staff. Connect with them and find out more about them. There can easily be certain assistants or junior members who actively make a difference. Supporting them and helping them grow into more recognized team members is valuable and honest conversation builds bridges. Meet with them and have a chat. Ask about their short-term career goals as well as their long-term plans. This will give you an insight into their overall needs as well as how they can fit into the overall structure of your organization. Find out whether they have an interest in leading a team. Nurturing a team leader from early on in their career can yield great results as long as you care about them and make certain they feel valued. In regular workplaces, unsung achievers will leave but in a great place to work these people should be sought out and rewarded or at least acknowledged. Some may not be aware of any available growth opportunities but if you find them and give them an opportunity, they may take it and become more invested in the future of the endeavor.


Many quiet heroes may not seem to be hungry for career growth but they are necessary to succeed as an organization. Managers should therefore find out what strengths and skills they possess and find out if they are being underutilized. If you have a team member who is good in their current role but could be leading the charge and growing your business to new heights, you should take the opportunity to explore how to help them, and in turn, the entire group will benefit.


Praise them publicly


Seek out opportunities to praise your quiet heroes publicly. Showing them that they are valued and their contribution is noticed will give you currency to expand your goals. It doesn’t matter whether you give them a gift in the office or use an employee recognition program to recognize them. Even small things like positive feedback in front of the whole team when you are on calls or copying a group in on a team email. All of it counts. Make it heartfelt and true and you will stand a better chance of retaining the lesser-known people who make a difference.


Managers can’t wait on the silent stars in the company to reveal themselves. There isn’t going to be a day when they all suddenly get up and march into your office together and announce they are the dream team. You have to find out who they are and nurture them. Getting in amongst it and asking questions of your team as well as watching to see who is constantly asked for help with tasks will reveal much about your teams and how they go about doing things. The hidden gems in your workplace aren’t loud brash overachievers. Instead, they act as informal leaders and influencers among their colleagues.