7 Ways to Keep Top Talent Without Increasing Salaries
4 min read

7 Ways to Keep Top Talent Without Increasing Salaries

It is harder than ever to keep talented employees.

Without thoughtful measures in place, this will get even worse over time. That’s because your competitors will take steps to improve their employee value proposition. And they’ll never stop trying to poach your best team members.

So you need to take action.

To help you on this journey I interviewed a 20-year HR veteran and in this post I’ll share their top seven initiatives to lower your staff attrition rate.

As a nice bonus, they focus heavily on attracting and retaining top talent. Something every manager is trying to do.

Let’s dive in.

1. Have a purpose bigger than profits

Every company has to make money. But unless the company shares it with employees, then they don’t care about the money a company makes itself. For some employees, even salaries are not a very powerful motivator.

Look at ways your company engages with society in your day-to-day activities. Find the unique purpose in this activity. Every company has one. Whether your company touches dozens of people or billions, you’re making a difference to your customers' lives.

When employees are money driven, they’ll jump ship to a competitor for more. You can never keep these people long-term anyway, and perhaps you don’t want to. If money is combined with a greater purpose then people tend to stick around. So find your purpose and work it into your 1-on-1 conversations and team meetings.

2. Make diversity a core strength

This one is simple. If everyone feels comfortable in your team and in the work environment they share, you get to choose from a larger pool of talent. It’s a no brainer. Especially when opposed to restricting your talent intake only to particular communities or the top institutions.

By orienting your team around diversity you’ll become a beacon to all top talent and new talent sources and opportunities will start opening up right in front of your eyes. Plus, when you look for the diamond in the rough, you can hire great talent that other companies are not fighting for.

3. Give everyone the respect they deserve

A lot of smart employees leave when they don’t get the respect or visibility. Work hard to provide visibility to all your employees for their efforts. This might mean shout outs in team meetings or even letting them show their work on a big stage like a company wide all-hands.

Some employees respond better to plaudits than even money. Recognition in front of people they respect can be worth more to employees than a cash salary increase.

4. Provide a culture of camaraderie to everyone

Many companies and teams tend to form small cliques that close out newcomers. While compensation is important, people don’t want to stay long at a place that pays a lot, but where there is no team atmosphere. They want to enjoy spending time at work.

Employees want both good pay and to work with people they like. Be very thoughtful in how you build your culture and who you are adding to it. It sets the tone for the entire team and a good culture and team atmosphere makes employees stay longer.

5. Hire people who have something to prove

Look for people with a chip on their shoulders. People who have a different background or have experienced pushback from a key stakeholder. They will have energy in abundance ready to prove that person wrong. That is a very powerful motivation. You want to harness this energy.

Not only will you have a talented and energetic worker, you’ll benefit from the reciprocity bias. People feel the need to pay back people who have given them something, so if you have these “chip on the shoulder” type people the opportunity, they’ll feel extra motivated to pay you back by staying around longer. It’s a win-win.

6. Match work to individual motivations

As a manager who want to run a thriving team, the primary thing you need to understand is:

  • The motivations of your employees and,
  • How the work you do aligns with their motivations.

Then you can organize your team to match the work to the motivations. As motivations change from person to person, you should be able cover all your bases.

Besides the core work that is interesting, you can also look to allow people to work on their pet projects, even at the cost of overall delays. Those side projects will keep them sharp. They will be extra motivated to make the side project  work (you’ll get some residual credit) and happy to see the results in what they have built. This breeds loyalty.

7. Offer opportunities beyond work

Many smart people want to do more in life than just work. They want to further their education, start a company or give back to society. Look for ways to actively give them the pathways to do this. Whether it’s time off or funding to study, seeding their new business or flexible rostering to support time spent working with a charity.

Ask current employees and new hires at the time of interview about their goals and ambitions outside of this job, so you can plan accordingly. Wanting to move higher in life is a very powerful motivation and you want your people to be motivated.

It’s not traitorous to want a pursuit outside of work, and it pushes away smart people. Don’t try to lock down top talent people, it won’t work. Give them opportunities to learn and grow while working for your company, and you stand a chance of keeping them.

Hope these principles help, and enjoy the journey!