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Benefits to Attract Top Talent

Filed under: Benefits

What constitutes “top talent” and what does it take to recruit these individuals to your organization?

In Top Gun terms, top talent are the “best of the best.” Also in Top Gun terms, elite organizations that recruit top talent make them even better. Therefore the challenges for employers are how to recruit top talent, how to improve their performance, and how to keep them.

Each employer may define top talent differently, but in general they are individuals who are:

  • Smart
  • Hardworking
  • Ambitious
  • ...and have the potential to develop into senior leaders

Candidates who have established these qualities through experience and reputation are competitively sought after in the job market; they tend to have many opportunities to choose from in their field. Therefore employers committed to recruiting top talent need to attract them through their own strong reputation, a competitive compensation and benefits package with the potential for higher income, a formal training program for professional growth and promotion opportunities and, perhaps even more importantly, establish a workplace where workers want to be.

Over time, and especially since the pandemic, the benefits that the top talent seek have changed. It’s no longer just about a good salary, well-subsidized health insurance, and a retirement plan; those benefits are assumed. The expectation now involves more work-life balance, personal growth, and a less stressful work environment.

Employers who are serious about recruiting and retaining top talent should offer a wide range of benefit options and the ability for each worker to customize a benefits package specifically for their needs and desires. Expanding the breadth and depth of benefits offers more personalized selections that appeal to workers at various stages of life, seniority, and pay grade.

For example, top talent with families may seek more family-oriented benefits, such as vetted options for childcare, after-school care, summer camp programs, and elder care resources. Younger adults may seek family planning benefits such as fertility and adoption assistance. Singles may be more interested in pet insurance, pet daycare, and work-related travel opportunities. Note that a wide spectrum of benefits also can help with retention, as a top talent’s benefit selections may change over time, from student loan assistance after college, to family planning and childcare resources, to financial counseling and additional opportunities to grow retirement savings.

Flexible Time and Location

According to Mercer’s Health on Demand 2023 report, three out of five workers say flexible work options are exceedingly valuable. Employers can promote work-life balance through a number of initiatives. In particular, by giving workers the opportunity to determine where and when they work – within certain perimeters. In most cases, top talent are self-motivated and therefore likely to meet their performance benchmarks under these circumstances. Combining flexible policies with performance expectations can help raise the bar for productivity among all levels of the workforce as a condition for securing those benefits.

Another initiative is for employers to integrate technological advancements that help support flexible work-life benefits. For example, secure smartphone apps and communication systems enable workers to respond to company needs in a timely fashion, but “log off” during their prescribed down time. Respecting these boundaries helps build a supportive culture that values work-life balance – an increasingly important factor among top talent.

Financial Planning and Retirement

Robust retirement benefits such as a 401(k) plan with a wide range of investment options, a high match contribution, and financial planning resources appeal to professionals at all career levels – but more so to high-earning, high-performing top talent. Another reason to target this demographic is because their work ethic and drive help them become more financially secure. With fewer financial pressures at home, they can focus on work and on achieving company goals.

The more emphasis placed on easing the stress related to financial burdens, the more productive the entire workforce becomes. That’s why offering many financial options, from an income-deferred emergency savings account to a debt management counselor to an investment advisor can help workers throughout their career.

A recent study found that two out of three workers report that money concerns affect their job performance. Moreover, eight out of 10 say financial wellbeing benefits would increase their job satisfaction.

Comprehensive Health and Wellness Programs

For the last 20 years, employers have been focused on reducing costs when it comes to healthcare benefits. Post-pandemic, people are more concerned with staying well, becoming fitter, and getting regular check-ups and screenings. Therefore comprehensive health and wellness benefits are a powerful differentiator for employers. Top talent can be workaholics, so they look for ways to incorporate positive health activities into their work schedule. This may include access to fitness facilities, home-based exercise options (e.g., Peloton, online classes), mental health and substance use support, quick and convenient healthy eating options, preventive screenings, wellness challenges, and employee assistance programs.

Another way employers can support health and wellness access is through technology. For example, enable workers to engage in video chats with doctors and utilize apps to manage medical conditions. Advanced tech tools include:

  • An app that helps workers find the right doctor or medical care
  • An app that schedules and manages personal medical appointments
  • An app that tracks expenses and helps budget the costs of healthcare
  • Apps to help self-manage health conditions
  • A private mini meeting room or “phone booth” to conduct video calls with a doctor or nurse
  • A virtual second opinion program that helps workers secure and pay for a second opinion for a serious condition
  • An app that alerts workers who have been in contact with someone with an infectious virus

Professional Development and Growth Opportunities

Top talent are always looking to enhance their knowledge and skills. Employers should develop programs and business practices that regularly offer growth opportunity. This not only motivates top workers, but also raises the bar for performance and enables opportunities for everyone in the workforce. The ability to learn via education, training, coaching, and mentorship cultivates knowledge, new skill development, and management experience.

Developing a benefit program that invests in the growth and development of workers also creates a sense of loyalty and commitment. Tuition reimbursement, mentorship programs, and skill-building workshops are ways an employer can demonstrate its commitment to professional growth and continuous development.

Job Market Projected to Be Active

According to Bankrate’s 2023 job seeker survey, 56 percent of US workers plan to look for new employment over the next twelve months. The majority of candidates are seeking higher pay to help mitigate inflation and save more money in light of poor market performance over the past couple of years. However, the survey also revealed that – beyond higher pay – 30 percent of workers consider work-life benefits to be the most important feature in their employment moving forward. These include flexible working hours, the ability to work from home, and more time off.

Bear in mind that local employers are no longer the only ones competing for local talent. The rise of remote work empowers employers all over the country, and even the world, to seek top talent no matter where they are located. And instead of offering an all-expense paid move, they can give workers the option to remain where they live, but increase their salary and benefits as an added enticement.

For employers seeking to attract top talent, it pays to invest in a wide array of substantive benefits from which they can design their own compensation package. To help track your success in recruiting and retaining this target group, it’s a good idea to utilize salary and benefits benchmarking and analytics to ensure that your offers are competitive, equitable, and cost-effective.

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