3 Ways To Incentivize Top Talent Beyond Just A Paycheck


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3 Ways to Incentivize Top Talent Beyond Just a Paycheck

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Retaining the best talent should be a priority in any economy, especially in the current downturn. One recent study found that high-performing employees were 400% more productive than average employees. And the competition for top talent has never been fiercer: Nearly 90% of executives and managers in recent McKinsey Global Poll said their organization is already facing a skills shortage or expecting one by 2024.


That’s why progressive employers are increasingly focusing on retention strategies, even during an economic downturn – identifying who their true “water bearers” are and taking proactive steps to keep them for the long haul. Not surprisingly, the common denominator of smart retention strategies is data. Now that a wealth of data about people is available, from engagement levels to performance and even influence and network You can identify and stimulate valuable team members with amazing accuracy.

For employers looking to retain their best and most talented employees, these three important levers can be critical.

Related: How to Make More Money, Retain Your Best Employees, and Grow Your Business—All at the Same Time


Don’t underestimate the power of purpose

The primary way to retain high performers is to use your company’s mission and values ​​to guide operations and make strategic decisions. Now, more than ever, this can be a differentiator.

Half of the workers surveyed recent Gartner survey said the pandemic had changed their expectations from the employer. Fifty-six percent said they wanted to contribute more to society, and nearly two-thirds rethought the place work should have in their lives.

Employees aligned with a clear company mission—one that lives, not just written in a dusty vision statement—are more loyal and engaged. Also, “mission” and “values” do not have to mean saving the world. Working from a position of honesty, authenticity, and trust can be just as powerful.

Our research shows a strong correlation between trust and retention. For example, nearly half of employees who trust their employers say they see themselves staying in their current positions for five years or more, compared to 29% of those with little trust. Building confidence during an economic downturn means being open to problems. Highly effective people know when the truth is embellished. You are more likely to rally employees around a common cause and build morale by being open and sincere.


Data can help here too. Internal survey tools can show changes in employee sentiment, while advanced analytics platforms can reveal subtle changes in things like email frequency and meeting attendance that show real support.

Related: How to attract and retain the best talent

Prioritize Experience (Over Perks)

The numbers don’t lie. Companies with higher employee engagement Turnover 65% below average. They also have higher profitability, higher productivity, higher customer ratings, and lower rates of absenteeism and theft.

So the second important way to retain valuable employees is to pay attention to employee experience on a deep and meaningful level. Cultivating good experiences isn’t about a gym membership or free bagels on Fridays; rather, it should be built into every layer of operations.


A classic example is professional development. In too many companies, this is misunderstood as a random conference or professional development program. But true professional development is an ongoing process that requires meaningful daily interaction with a dedicated leader.

A big part of this is to provide team members with opportunities for horizontal growth. These grid-style incentives strengthen the organization by spreading best practices across departments and providing new opportunities for employees to grow. In fact, our research shows that the desire to learn skills is an important factor in employee turnover. 32% of respondents a recent survey said that learning opportunities influenced their decision to leave.

Using human data can pay dividends here too. With the right platforms, companies can match the skills, competencies, and capabilities of the entire organization, identifying growth opportunities for prospective employees who go far beyond the traditional “ladder” to the top. A recruiter who spends time as a salesperson will be more versatile and ultimately more successful in any capacity. The company will benefit from its multifaceted perspective.

On the subject: What attracts and retains employees? It may not be a paycheck.

Salary Matters, but Transparency Matters

Compensation is usually the first tool that comes up when discussing labor retention. In fact, that’s often the whole conversation. But for employees, compensation can be the weakest form of persuasion, especially if you offer competitive wages to begin with.

Of course, unusually low salaries can make employees feel undervalued. But money is just a stimulus. Think that one third of shift workers during the Great Retirement, wage cuts had to be made to achieve a better work-life balance.

Our research has shown that pay and promotion transparency is equally important to employees. Once considered a taboo topic, pay transparency is now law in at least seven US states. more to follow. People data can be invaluable in determining the “right” salary for a position. Wise leaders use data to compare wages to industry standards to ensure competitive wage ranges. In short, there is no reason why adequate wages should be a guessing game for companies today.

Of course, leaders cannot prevent good people from leaving if their hearts are set in a different direction. Let them leave on good terms, with your respect and support. Employers have a vested interest in giving employees a preferential exit. Our study shows that boomerang employees made up almost a third external recruitment from January 2019 to April 2022.

But by using people data and paying attention to the three pillars of employee engagement—mission, experience, and compensation—managers can minimize employee turnover while creating a productive and satisfying work environment. This is a profitable investment that helps retain and develop valuable people through bad times and good times.


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