Last updated: 14.06.17

Are your employees over qualified? How to show value for their worth

Over-qualified employees are often looking for new responsibilities to add to their roles. Here we take a look at why it’s important for employers to acknowledge their worth and provide them with challenge.

There are many instances where employers hire workers that are over-qualified for their starting role. This, of course, is no bad thing. In time, this talent can be utilised to better the business and workforce as a whole, which will, in turn, increase profits.

However, failure to keep over-qualified employees happy could result in a demotivated workplace and the employee looking for work elsewhere. Low staff retention also becomes very expensive and can reflect badly on a company.

According to Berrin Erdogan, professor of management at Portland State University, those who are over-educated are more likely to change jobs more quickly.

She said: "There is a positive correlation between perceived over-qualification and turnover intentions. This could be because they are bored but also because they have the qualifications to actually leave.

"You get more skills, but someone who is more of a flight risk. My own research, as well as that of others, also has shown that there are conditions under which feelings of over-qualification do not translate into higher turnover.”

Here we take a look at ways at how you can keep over-qualified employees happy within the workplace:

Show your appreciation

Many HR professionals will understand just how much workers value recognition for their efforts. This is especially true when it comes to over-qualified workers. If they are delivering more than what is required of their role, it is important for employers to acknowledge this. Rewarding staff with bonuses, more responsibility or exciting tasks is a great way to instill loyalty and hard-work.

However, showing recognition doesn’t always have to come in the form of bonuses, prizes and rewards. Sometimes, all that’s required is a pat on the back, responding to an email or even just a personal thank you.

Pairing like-minded employees

Ms Erdogan believes that employees that work alongside colleagues that are similarly talented are more likely to stay with a company over a longer period of time, than those who don’t get on with other workers.

Even when an employee is aware that they are more qualified than other workers, by collaborating with other top-level people, they will feel more comfortable in their work environment and more productive in general as they are able to bounce ideas off each other.

Nevertheless, it is still very important for over-qualified workers to have a workload that challenges them and puts them outside of their comfort zone every now and again. This will prevent them from becoming bored in their role.

Provide responsibility

Employees that have a say in how a businesses is run and feel as though their opinions are valued, are more likely to stay put at a company. By empowering workers with the ability to influence those in higher positions (and their work environment in general), all parties benefit.

“We found that empowerment plays the role of a buffer. When employees have autonomy, and when they feel that they have the ability to influence their work environment (rather than being expected to take a passive, cog-in-a-machine approach to work), their turnover rate is no different from others," said Ms Erdogan.

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