5 Ways to Prepare Your People Strategy for High Growth Backed by Science

People Strategy High-growth firms experience unique challenges, especially when it comes to scaling a people strategy that engages and retains employees.

This is evident in our research on the middle market, America’s fastest growing sector, which found employee engagement down 11.5 percent.

While our experts debated in the piece whether or not high-growth companies would always struggle with engagement, they could all agree that these firms could better prepare for high-growth by focusing on five areas the middle market significantly fell behind.


Get your free copy of the study + best practices here: The Downside of Growth 


Here’s a quick look at the five ways you can prepare your people strategy for high growth, according to the research: 


1. Create Recognition Programs That Scale

High-growth firms move fast, and employees’ contributions can be lost in the shuffle. A strong people strategy will consider what employee recognition looks like in an organization increasing in size.

  • Do your managers have the resources, monetary or otherwise, to recognize employees?
  • Do your managers have the skillsets to recognize employees?
  • Have you invested in training your technically-skilled managers in soft skills like empathy and emotional intelligence?
  • Have you set expectations that recognition is part of a manager’s job description?
  • Are employees empowered to recognize their peers?
  • Is recognition built into everyday business operations?


2. Increase Visibility of Leadership

Our research shows that feeling valued by senior leaders is a critical driver to employee engagement. As organizations increase in size, people are more likely to feel disconnected from senior leaders. And you can’t feel valued by what you can’t see.

  • How often do employees hear from leaders?
  • What mechanisms can your organization create to provide dialogue between leaders and employees on a global scale?
  • When do employees hear from leaders? In times of crisis? In times of success?
  • What types of messages do employees hear from leaders? Is it balanced?
  • In what ways are leaders seen listening to employees and acting on what they’ve heard?


3. Be Diligent About Change Management

In high-growth firms, the pace of change is fast, and it can be hard to slow down enough to be intentional about how change happens and how it’s communicated. But this is essential for your people strategy. Employees need to feel connected and need a sense of stability and security.

  • Do employees understand changes occurring and how the changes will impact them?
  • Are leaders communicating through change or waiting until the change has happened?
  • What opportunities do employees have to provide input during change?
  • Are you leveraging change champions to gain buy-in from your people?
  • How is change documented? Where do employees go if they have questions about the changes?
  • Are small changes dismissed with a sink-or-swim attitude?
  • Do your managers understand their role in managing through change? Are they held accountable?


4. Prep for Compensation Challenges

The more people in your organization, the more compensation conversations you have to manage and the more important it is to have a consistent framework and official pay strategy. In addition, in order to push through your next high-growth phase, you might be looking for more highly-sought talent, which means getting more competitive with pay.

  • Do you have and compensation philosophy and pay strategy? If so, when was the last time you reviewed it?
  • How does your pay strategy play a role in attracting, retaining, and motivating employees?
  • Do employees understand your pay philosophy and how pay is administered?
  • Are your managers skilled in having compensation conversations?
  • Have you ever conducted a formal compensation and benefits analysis?


5. Mature Your Career Development Programs

Similar to the above, the more people in your organization, the more careers you have to manage. Our research shows that providing employees opportunities for growth and development is an important driver of engagement and retention.

  • Do you have a career development philosophy?
  • What opportunities do employees have for development?
  • Is there a balance among opportunities available for employees of different tenure, department, etc.?
  • Are your managers skilled in having career conversations?
  • Do employees hear stories about how their peers have grown in the organization?


Growing fast comes with great rewards, but employee engagement, retention, and culture can suffer at the hands of that success. Don’t overlook safeguarding your people strategy!



Download our full report below for more of our research on the downside of growth, including more executive strategies, insights, and real-life stories.

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Published November 15, 2017 | Written By Hilary Wright