How to Attract and Retain Top Talent

27 October 2023

The work doesn’t stop once you hire top talent.

advice : Leadership and Strategy

Top talent is the backbone of any start-up or scale-up. When the work is fast-paced and ever-changing, growing companies need employees that they can rely on. Having a productive, efficient, skilled, and committed workforce is make-or-break for a start-up.

However, large companies with huge budgets and resources will also want those top candidates. And while not all start-ups can offer high salaries, they can offer other benefits and advantages to working with them. Here’s how to attract and retain top talent without blowing your budget.

Attracting top talent is about establishing what value you can offer prospective employees

  • Clear brand and company culture

Decide who you are as a company – what your values, mission, and culture are. Your brand and culture must be clear throughout the whole process – from the application to the interview process. Start-ups have the advantage of starting from scratch, and prospective employees will generally expect a more trusting, open, and inclusive culture from a small company. Either way, employers should be honest about their culture and the expectations they have of their employees.

  • Growth

No one wants to work for a company that isn’t growing, and top talent will be keen to know how the company is performing and its future plans. In the same vein, the best job seekers will also want to know how their growth will be supported by the company, whether that is through regular training programmes or progression.

  • Work-life balance

We know that a good work-life balance is important and healthy. And it’s a top priority for job seekers. A recent survey by CIPHR found that it was the number one important factor for job-searching candidates, more so than pay, benefits, and promotion opportunities. This might be an area that a company needs to work on, and if a healthy work-life balance is already in place, then it could be beneficial to explicitly discuss this in the job advert and throughout the interview process.

  • Offer competitive benefits

A company can offer a high salary, but top talent can be drawn to competitive non-monetary benefits. This could be remote working options, flexible working hours, and the option to pay for more annual leave – these benefits don’t cost the company, but they make a huge difference to an employee’s work-life balance. Sabbaticals have also hugely risen in popularity, with more workers taking time off to travel than ever. Consider offering sabbaticals after a number of (well-performing) years of service for a truly robust and attractive benefits package. Additionally, employers could attract top talent with perks like gym memberships, equity options, and volunteer days.

How to Attract Top Talent During the Application and Interview Process

  • Seamless application process

No one wants to spend a day working on a single job application. This might convey that a company is old-fashioned and doesn’t respect that top talent might be applying to multiple companies at once. A seamless online application that demonstrates how the candidate is right for the role is all it takes.

  • Smooth interview process

Leadership teams should ensure that the process is streamlined, efficient, and straightforward. It shows top talent that their time is valued, and a long interview process might wean their enthusiasm for the role.

  • Maintain clear communication

Top talent will be going through multiple interview processes at once. Keep them informed, engaged, and interested by clearly communicating throughout the application and interview process.

How to Retain Top Talent

Once you hire top talent, the work doesn’t stop there. Now it’s time to work on keeping job satisfaction and engagement high, and turnover low.

  • Invest in employee development

The best way to retain top talent is by investing in their development. Employers should provide opportunities to take on new responsibilities, learn new skills, and advance their careers. This shows that you care about your employees, want them to grow with the company, and value their contributions.

  • Feedback and coaching

Whether it’s from one of the leadership team or someone in another managerial position, it’s important that valued top talent have someone that they can trust with advice and mentorship. Coaching and mentoring an employee shows that they’re valued, while simultaneously helping them to develop their skills. It increases engagement, job satisfaction, and retains employees.

  • Reward achievements

As well as investing in employee development, competitive monetary compensation, and non-monetary benefits, employers should be rewarding achievements. This could be in the form of verbally recognising good work, shouting them out in a meeting, or giving promotions, raises, and bonuses. Employers can also offer EMI share options – the most tax-efficient equity incentives scheme. EMI shares are typically paid out when the company is sold, so it’s a great way to retain top talent. And when start-ups can’t offer higher salaries, offering EMI shares is also an excellent way to attract employees.

  • Maintain the culture you built up

Talent will want to hear about the company culture in interviews, and companies need to maintain the positive environment they’ve portrayed in the interview process. If the culture is not as trusting, inclusive, and transparent as it has been depicted, then new talent will recognise that. If employers maintain the values, behaviour, beliefs, and attitudes that encompass their company personality, they will increase employee engagement and nurture a sense of community. When two-thirds of employees surveyed stated company culture as one of the most important reasons for staying with an employer, it’s crucial to take it seriously.

At Finerva, we’re here to help. Whether you’re seeking specialist business advice or help setting up an EMI scheme to suit your start-up, our trusted team of experts are on hand. Get in touch today.

The information available on this page is of a general nature and is not intended to provide specific advice to any individuals or entities. We work hard to ensure this information is accurate at the time of publishing, although there is no guarantee that such information is accurate at the time you read this. We recommend individuals and companies seek professional advice on their circumstances and matters.