5 Ways to Retain Top Performers in a Job Seeker’s Market

top performers

We are in the midst of a job seeker’s market. Unemployment rates are low and demand for talent is far outweighing the supply. For top performers, this is a great time to weigh their options. Meanwhile, employers not only want to hang on those same people, they potentially want to hire more of the same.

So how can business leaders better manage an increasingly competitive job market? Here are a few good places to start:

Take stock of your culture

The number one draw for top performers? Compensation’s at the top of the list, but it isn’t what keeps them around. Yes, it’s culture! Evaluating your culture may seem challenging, but there are ways to measure it. The narrower a company’s culture gap (the difference between the culture they’d like to have and the one they do have) the stronger the culture will be.

According to a Catalyst study of  high potential employees, 44% of women and 46% of men were likely to leave an organization when the culture gap is wide, versus 3% of women and 23% of men when it’s narrow. The narrower the gap, the more satisfied they are with 1: work & advancement,  2: pay,  3: their supervisors and 4: the company’s commitment to work-life quality and diversity.

Continuous Development

Your top performers are not going to be motivated in an environment that doesn’t embrace growth and development. Employees can seek out training on their own time, but they will be drawn to a company that also takes the time to invest in the same. Training can take place with internal programs, consultants, seminars or free online materials.

The main goal is two-fold – your employees are learning new skills that help them perform at their best, and they remain engaged in that role. Be mindful of the kind of developmental programs you invest in. If you don’t find the material engaging or meaningful, they likely won’t either.


Work weeks continue to get longer – the average employee now clocks in 47 hours.  Add to that the fact that technology enables us to be available around the clock;  People feel pressure to be responsive even when taking time off.  In this climate, companies that offer work from home days or more flexible hours are simply more appealing.


A little perk can go a long way. Robust benefits, including vacation, sick and personal time are a very good start. But how do you set your company apart?

A recent Gallup study found that companies who put a concerted effort into overall employee well-being have much higher retention rates. They defined this by analyzing five different factors: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical.

Additionally, above average maternity and paternity leave, company sponsored social events, paid time off for community service, tuition reimbursement and free food (everything from healthy snacks to lunches) are ways to help attract and maintain your best and brightest. While culture remains top of the list, these additional nice-to-haves can certainly give you an extra edge.

Office Design

In the past decade plus, offices went from cubicles to more open work spaces.  People could better collaborate, generate more ideas and better grow the business, or so they thought. In recent years, this method has proven to have its drawbacks too.

According to a recent survey, up to 90% of employees are unsatisfied with their work space. The open environment, while valuable at times, does not offer the privacy employees need to recharge and focus when need be. Business leaders are starting to take note and are building environments that incorporate both. While budget is more than likely a concern, using a little creativity and cultivating this kind of environment in an existing space could go a long way in hanging on to top performers.

Every company has its own limits as to what they can provide in terms of perks, flexible time and space, but things like culture and how people feel on a daily basis are more and more fundamental. If employee retention is of top concern, hopefully these serve as helpful tips to consider!