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Attracting and retaining top talent


Is it important to discover top talent? Well yes!  A McKinsey study found that talented managers created enormous value. “A” players can be between 50 to 100% more productive than average performers. So attracting top performers is quite simply essential if you are going to compete in the 21st century. In fact, it’s been said that getting enough talent on your side should be your number one goal as a leader.

Each person may have slightly different motivations and the way to attract the top performers in any sub-­section will be different, in clerical roles fulfilled by parents returning to work, flexibility about working hours will allow you to attract top performers, something that may not be as crucial if you are looking to recruit motivated graduates.

However, although certain people within certain sub sections of the job market will be motivated by very personal needs there are a number of key attributes that a company should display that are exceptionally important if you are to attract top performers across the whole spectrum of your company.

However, here’s one valuable tip before we list the attributes of an attractive company. Employers would be wise to recognise that talent and education comes in many different forms. Universities whilst excellent at finding candidates with the best grades, it may not be the people with the best grades that your company needs, whereas experience working for your competitor may be invaluable.

Attracting and retaining top talent

Why should a great person want to work for you? Do you offer more than your competition? Is what you offer enough to attract the most talented?

What do the very best employees want?

Mission driven companies

Booz Allen argued that mission driven employees were the least likely to leave, whereas career driven people or employees who were neither driven by career nor a mission were far more likely to leave their organisation. Therefore, attracting and retaining top talent will be far easier if you have a clearly defined mission that top talent can identify with.

The reasons that motivated employees leave their employer also give us a valuable insight into what top performers are looking for to join your company. The main reasons people leave companies are:

  1. Money
  2. A poor boss
  3. The feeling they are undervalued
  4. The feeling of boredom or the lack of challenging work
  5. Limited opportunities for growth or advancement
  6. Their job not being as described in their interview
  7. The feeling that they are continually asked to do and achieve more with less resources

By addressing these key reasons for employees leaving companies not only will you position your company to attract top performers, you will successfully retain them too.


Ensure that your basic salaries are competitive to attract a star performer and that overall packages will allow them to thrive. Remember most top talent will be recognised as such in their existing company. You need to make sure that you continually review your packages if you want to retain your top performers, remember they will be on the hit list of your competitors.

A poor boss

There is an old adage that employees don’t leave companies they leave managers. To attract top talent you must have top managers who can attract new talent and possess the ability to motivate and inspire them once they are on-board.

The feeling they are undervalued

To make sure you keep attracting top talent make sure that your existing talent feels appreciated. Motivated employees will act as your greatest ambassadors in the on-­going war for talent and they will remain a constant in your company.

The feeling of boredom or the lack of challenging work and limited opportunities for growth or advancement

To attract star performers you require your management team to continually stretch and develop its current talent whilst demonstrating, to up and coming talent, the successes of their hard working colleagues. Running features about star employees, what and how they have achieved their successes will be very attractive to disillusioned star performers in other companies and keep your star employees striving.

Their job not being as described in their interview

Before you commence your search for talent, make sure that you and your management team have a clear picture of exactly what you want your next star employee to achieve. A role must, in reality, be the same as what you described in the interview process. If your company develops a reputation for their roles not being as described in interview your ability to attract top performers will be severely hampered and your talent will walk out of the door into the arms of your competition.

The feeling that they are continually asked to do and achieve more with fewer resources

Top performers want to develop themselves. If they begin to feel that they are continually being asked to do and achieve more with less resources you will not only lose the talent you have, you will find it very hard to attract new talent. The web and social media sites such as LinkedIn mean that information, especially negative information, travels very quickly and if your company gains the reputation for penny pinching you will become a talent free zone.