Retaining Top Talent: 5 Things Employees Value More Than Money

November 18, 2016

retaining top talent

It’s nearly review season, and thousands of companies are going through the annual grind of filling out evaluations, budgeting for salaries, and figuring out how to keep their best people happy and engaged at work. While the focus is often on raises and bonuses, there’s a lot more than money to retaining top talent.

Even if you have plenty of room in your budget to pay everyone on your team over and above market rates, money isn’t everything. Engagement comes from creating an environment where people feel not only that they are paid fairly, but that there are other aspects of their job that make them feel like it’s a great fit. Here are five key elements to consider beyond pay, that have a big impact on attracting and retaining top talent.

1) Flexibility: Around 42% of employees would take a pay cut for more flexibility. If you can’t offer more money (or even if you can), consider offering remote work opportunities, four-day work schedules, or other options that allow people to better fit work into their lives.

2) Self-Direction: Steve Jobs famously said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” If you hired someone for their expertise, don’t ignore their knowledge.

3) Recognition: According to Gallup, 65% of employees reported receiving no recognition at work, and not feeling appreciated is among the biggest reasons people leave their jobs. Putting in place a structured rewards/recognition program that highlights top performers and creates a culture of appreciation is an alternative to raises—and a great way of engaging and retaining top talent without taking a hit to the bottom line.

4) Professional Development: In every industry, skills and techniques are always evolving. No one wants to fall behind and be put in a position of having out-of-date skills—70% of professional learning comes from experiences on the job vs. only 10% from classroom learning. Set up a mentoring program, or find ways for employees to volunteer for stretch assignments. Create a culture where people feel like learning new skills is integrated into their daily work.

5) Savvy Managers: People don’t quit bad companies, they quit bad managers. The person with the single biggest influence on engagement is the direct manager within the organization. Unfortunately, many companies still don’t provide training, support, and guidance to managers, which results in a lot of “horrible boss” situations—and makes retaining top talent an uphill battle.

Money is an important factor in how people think about their job. But it’s not the only thing that keeps people happy and engaged at work, and in fact in some cases people are willing to trade for less money if it means they can have more flexibility, a better working environment, or more opportunities to learn and grow.

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About The Author

Katy Tynan is an expert in the future of work. She is the author of How Did I Not See This Coming: The New Manager’s Guide to Avoiding Total Disaster (ATD Press, 2017) and Survive Your Promotion (Personal Focus Press, 2010). Tynan is the founder and chief talent strategist at Liteskip Consulting Group.

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