Internal Recruiting & Workforce Planning

HiPos Survey Results: How Do You Compare?

The results of the 2015 High Potential Employee (HiPo) survey are in. Take a look at the results, and see how your company compares to those of your
competitors.

Highlights of the HiPos and Succession Planning Survey:

  • While 92.3% feel that identifying HiPos is important, only 44% of respondents say their company actively attempts to identify HiPos.
  • More than half of respondents (57.4%) said that they tell their HiPos that they consider them to be HiPos. 42.6% do not.
  • The slight majority of participants (56%) feel that their organization is less than adequately equipped to retain and engage HiPos.
  • 83.3% of survey takers attempt to retain HiPos by engaging them with new responsibilities or challenges.
  • Of those polled, 53.9% said that they could remember an instance or instances where they have failed to retain HiPos.
  • When asked why their HiPos quit, 38.9% of survey takers said it was due to “limited opportunity for upward mobility or new responsibilities” and 19.6% said “management style.”

Thanks to all 406 individuals who participated in the survey! Here are the detailed responses:


Want to make sure you are getting the right person for the job? Start on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, with a new interactive webinar—Hiring Mr. or Ms. Right: Best Practices on Using Strategic Talent Assessments. Learn More


Identifying HiPos

92.3% of survey takers said that identifying HiPos is at least important. Of that 92.3%, 34% said it is “extremely important,” and 38.7% said it’s “very important.” Only 6.2% said it is “somewhat important” and only 1.5% said it is “not at all important.” Cleary, the survey shows that identifying these employees should be a real focus for companies.

In the last question, we see that virtually everyone who took the survey thinks identifying HiPos is important. It comes as a surprise then that when participants were asked if they had a system for identifying HiPos, only 44% said that they do. That leaves 56% of respondents saying that no, they don’t have a system for identifying these important employees.

We asked those participants who said that they do have a system for identifying HiPos to tell us what that system is. The largest response (39%) said they use something that’s built into their normal performance management system. 23.9% tell their managers to keep an eye out for HiPos. Only 14.1% have said they use a dedicated paper solution, and even fewer (6.1%) said that they use a dedicated software solution. Some of the most common answers by the 16.9% who checked “other” include:

  • A 9-box grid.
  • Our executive team makes these decisions.
  • A talent classification system.
  • An informal process involving either discussion or managerial input.

HiPos Notification

The slight majority of respondents (57.4%) said that they tell their HiPos that they consider them to be HiPos. 42.6% do not. When asked why or why not, there were many responses. Below are two sets of common responses, the first for those who elaborated on why they do notify their employees, and the second on why they do not.

Common Reasons to Notify HiPos:

  • Keep the employees motivated.
  • Prepare them for training and development.
  • Inform them that they have opportunities open to them.
  • Let them know they are a worthy investment.
  • Keep them engaged.
  • Allow them to feel appreciated.

Common Reasons Not to Notify HiPos:

  • It’s not in our culture to do so.
  • It never occurred to us to notify them.
  • Avoid unrealistic expectations.
  • Avoid creating potentially troublesome swelling of ego/entitlement issues.
  • We lack the ability to follow up with incentives/advancement/increased compensation.
  • We simply don’t have a formal process in place.

Engaging and Retaining HiPos

The majority (56.5%) of respondents feel that their organization is less than adequately equipped to retain and engage HiPos. Of that 56%, 44.8% said their company is “not very well equipped” and 11.7% said “we aren’t equipped at all.” The next most common answer (31.8%) was “adequately equipped.” Only 10% said they are “very well equipped” and 1.7% said they are “extremely well equipped.”

When asked about methods of retaining HiPos, 83.3% of survey takers attempt to retain HiPos by engaging them with new responsibilities or challenges. 75.1% said they attempt to do so by “providing them with development opportunities.” The next most common answer (47.4%) is that they try to retain HiPos by “rewarding them when managers observe and report fulfillment of potential.” Only 33.9% of respondents said they offer “attractive compensation incentives or perks” to retain HiPos. Some of the answers from the 7.9% that responded “other” include:

  • Placing HiPos in areas of the company where they would excel.
  • Verbal praise.
  • Include career planning as part of an ongoing discussion.
  • We don’t have a system for retaining HiPos.

The slight majority of respondents (53.9%) said that yes, they could remember an instance or instances where they failed to retain HiPos, while 46.1% said they couldn’t remember such an instance.

The answers to this question fit pretty well with the most common individual responses from the previous question. Here, the most common three reasons that respondents say HiPos leave their companies are “limited opportunity for upward mobility or new responsibilities” (38.9%), “management style” (19.6%), and “inadequate compensation” (16.9%). Only 9.5% said “lack of development opportunities,” and even fewer (4.7%) said it was due to “poor workplace culture.” 10.4% answered “other.” Here are some of the most common “other” responses:

  • All of the above.
  • We do retain HiPos.
  • Being a small company makes it difficult to stay competitive with salaries and benefits.


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Measuring High Potential

The top two responses are tied! 35.4% said that “high performance (getting work done quickly and well)” is the most important characteristic of a HiPo, and 35.4% said that “engagement (they are eager to be involved)” is the most important characteristic of a HiPo. The next-highest percentages are significantly lower, with 11.4% saying it’s “ability (raw skill),” and 8.2% saying it’s “aspiration (they want to climb the ladder).” 9.6% answered “other,” and here are some of the most common “other” responses:

  • Unable to pick only one, must be all of the above;
  • Passion and attitude; and
  • Capability.

When asked what methods companies use to assess employee potential, the largest response (60.8%) was “performance review results.” Second largest (36.9%) was “management/leadership review boards.” Beneath that, 21.8% said “dedicated assessment tools (e.g., leadership potential assessments, psychometric tools, mulitrater assessments),” and 20.9% said “we don’t assess potential.” 

Tomorrow we’ll get the rest of the results for this survey, plus an introduction to an interactive webinar, Hiring Mr. or Ms. Right: Best Practices on Using Strategic Talent Assessments.