Speculations about the existence of unicorns have left humans fascinated since the Mesopotamian era. It’s quite hard to believe that those magical creatures, typically represented by horses with single straight horns on their foreheads, are real.
And while there are still debates going on about whether unicorns truly walked the earth, it is believed that we co-exist with them today. In this modern time, we call them a ‘unicorn employee.’
Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes defines a ‘unicorn employee’ as a member of the staff who possesses a unique set of qualities that make them extremely rare and valuable. He says that like actual unicorns, ‘Unicorn employees are hard to find, but once hired, they offer up enormous benefits in the workplace.’
To help you spot a unicorn employee, here are some of their qualities:
1. They are not exclusively married to their job description.
Unicorn employees are willing to wear many hats. They don’t multitask just to prove they can do two different things simultaneously. They reach out to help on a variety of tasks even if it’s beyond their scope of work. Unicorns are on the constant lookout for new things to learn. These qualities make them versatile employees, allowing them to be valuable assets to the organization they belong in.
2. They are goal-oriented…
Strategic thinkers are often regarded as stellar performers. From a business standpoint, it is important to look at the big picture to achieve the company’s long-term goals.
3. …but they also pay attention to the details.
When necessary, unicorn employees can also zone into the smallest of details. They understand that it pays to read the fine print to avoid unexpected heaps of trouble in the future. They can take a step back and see the whole picture while still being aware of the nitty-gritty. These make the qualities of someone who can be trusted with serious responsibility.
4. They have a can-do attitude. And they deliver.
Unicorns shatter expectations. Assign them a project and consider it done right on schedule. And with flying colors. They know want they want, and they know exactly how to make it happen. They stop at nothing once they’ve set their mind onto something.
5. They’re ambassadors of teamwork.
This type of employee standout because of their clear understanding of their strengths and areas to improve. Instead of pretending that they have it all together, they actively listen to other team members who possess the skills they don’t have. They make people feel that they are working with them instead of for them. In this corporate jungle, that makes all the difference.
6. They’re passionate about what they do.
Regardless of the challenges along the way, unicorn employees gets the work done. Whatever they put out there, they believe it’s a reflection of themselves. They do things out of their genuine interest in what they do. Sometimes, they don’t even notice they’re taking things a step further. Unicorns don’t go out of their way to make an impression; they do because it fulfills who they are as a person.
7. They naturally inspire others to do better.
Unicorn employees raise the bar for everyone. And the best part? The bar isn’t wrapped with fear and pressure. They inspire the people they encounter to produce an output they’re proud of. Positivity radiates when they're around and it makes hard work the most natural thing in the world.
8. They are always humble and respectful.
One of the main qualities that set unicorns apart from other highly-skilled employees is their humble confidence. Sometimes, when people find you talented and you know it, you develop a sense of arrogance and superiority. Unicorn employees, meanwhile, have respect for anyone they meet and work with. They don’t think they are above anyone in any way, even to those people who are at the bottom of the ladder.
Now, how can you keep Unicorn Employees?
Having a unicorn employee is a huge win for your company. Whether you’ve already found a couple of unicorns inside your organization or you’ve just recently hired one, the next step is to ensure that these people are happy. Here are 3 simple ways to make unicorn employees stay:
- Express. Nothing means more to an employee than being valued by their company. It motivates them to be better at their jobs. Show them you believe in them by rewarding them for their hard work. Check out Sodexo’s Incentives and Rewards Program.
- Engage. Make sure you keep a fun and supportive work environment. From time to time, create opportunities for them to interact with other members within and outside their department.
- Empower. Keep in mind that unicorns are mostly driven by their passion. Encourage them to be the best they can. Give them the freedom to show who they are through the work they do.
Employers and recruiters play an important role in ensuring that people work together in their organization. While it's extremely beneficial to hire the best candidates for the job, it is no longer just about getting the smartest in the bunch nowadays. As Alibaba Co-Founder Jack Ma once said, "Stupid people can work together easily. Smart people can't." If your top players have the skills but not the right attitude, it's about time to keep an eye on your unicorn employee.