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July 23, 2021

Five ways to retain your top performers

Leaders must rethink how they're engaging and retaining top talent to acquire the skills needed to stay ahead in today's world of work.


Employee engagement and retention are top of mind for business leaders today. Not only is turnover costly, but losing top performers also has an adverse effect on productivity and can lower employee morale, all of which have a serious impact on the company's bottom line.

Post-COVID-19, employers are under added pressure to manage their workforce carefully. As organisations decide whether or not to return to the office full-time, part-time, or not at all, in-demand knowledge workers, who almost universally prefer remote work, may be more inclined to change jobs to retain that benefit. And with geographical boundaries broken down more than ever before, employees are able to consider opportunities that were formerly not viable.

Retaining talent and keeping employees engaged remains a high priority, and to do so it's imperative that companies identify what truly matters to their employees. Here are five key ways organisations can retain top performers in this new world:

1. Rethink benefits and compensation

The first step toward retention is ensuring your compensation package is competitive. Keep tabs on the market value of the roles within your company to get a sense of what kind of offers might come to your employees if a competitor took interest. This will also put you in a strong position to proactively identify and correct pay gaps you come across within your company.

In addition to a competitive salary, factors such as whether employees like their health plan can play a significant role in whether they stay with a company. A recent survey showed 56% of workers with employer-sponsored health benefits said that their health coverage is a key factor in deciding to stay at their current job. Other benefits that matter to top performers include paid time off and flexible schedules, retirement plans, stock options, recognition programs, and professional development.

2. Focus on your peoples' professional development

A competitive salary and benefits package is a great start, but the most important factor in retaining employees, especially engaged, high-performing employees, is offering professional development and advancement opportunities. As many as 94% of employees surveyed by LinkedIn stated they would stay at a company longer if the employer invested in their career. This is especially true when it comes to millennials. In a recent Gallup poll, 87% of millennials rated professional or career growth and development opportunities as a top reason they stay at their current company.

Many high-performers thrive on the challenge of mastering new skills, so providing learning and development opportunities is a crucial component to keeping them engaged. In fact, 33% of survey respondents said they started searching for a new job simply because they were bored and in need of a new challenge.

3. Invest in your managers

We've all heard the expression, "employees leave managers, not companies." Well, it's often true. Research shows that 57% of employees have left a job because of their manager, and an additional 32% have seriously considered leaving a position because of their manager.

One way to circumvent this is by ensuring new managers get the training they need. A full 70% of frontline managers said they were not expecting the promotion to leadership, and 41% admit to having doubts about whether it was the right decision. A comprehensive training program, that includes mentorship and coaching, can help ensure your managers have the knowledge and skills needed to support their employees and provide them with the type of leadership that will keep them satisfied and engaged.

4. Promote your employer values

Employees want to work for a company that aligns with their personal values. In fact, 24% of employees in a survey cited company culture not fitting with their values as the top reason they planned to look for a new job. And more than half of the respondents in a Glassdoor survey stated that a company's culture is more important to them than salary when it comes to job satisfaction.

Unfortunately, 33% of employees feel their current employer's core values do not align with their own. This demonstrates the importance of ensuring everyone in the organisation is aware of your company values and including your employees in the process of establishing company values to foster employee engagement and increase your high-performer's sense of belonging.

5. Invest in community and connection

Feeling connected to those you work with and having positive relationships in the workplace has several benefits. Not only does it provide employees with a sense of community and belonging, it often translates into increased productivity and the ability to innovate. In one study, 60% of workers who were considering leaving their current job reported being more inclined to stay if they had more friends at work.

The key here is to invest in team-building and events that foster a strong sense of community at large as well as smaller connections between employees 1:1. Offering a mix of engaging virtual events and small group networking as well as in-person company onsites when appropriate will go a long way towards helping high-performers feel connected and valued within the organisation.

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