To build the most successful teams, you’re looking for top performers who know their stuff and can help you reach your business goals. But with the fierce competition for talent, top performers have many choices when it comes to where they want to work.

A great company culture can help you attract, close, and retain top-tier talent. Most (88 percent) job seekers say company culture is important when they’re looking for a new role, and 15 percent have turned down an offer due to company culture. Top performers have room to be pickier than the rest of the workforce, and are less likely to settle if they’re not completely sold on the opportunity.

If you want to win these coveted candidates for your team—and keep them there—make sure to build and promote a company culture that speaks to them.

An inclusive company culture

Top performers are among a diverse group that include all backgrounds, ethnicities, sexes, and walks of life. Build an inclusive company culture that allows them to bring their full selves to work so they can truly excel. 

It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s expected. Two-thirds (67 percent) of candidates have said that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating job opportunities. Top performers have many choices when it comes to where they want to work, and may not consider a company that lacks diversity. An inclusive company culture is essential to engaging and retaining a diverse workforce.

An investment in diversity and inclusion can help you hire and retain top performers, leading to many other business benefits. Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more innovative, are 120 percent more likely to hit financial goals, and see 1.4 times more revenue.

It’s best to get started early when building an inclusive culture, but the next best time to get started is now. Survey your existing employees to learn where you stand, and how you can improve. Diversity and inclusion work is never truly finished, and it’s important to continue to measure progress and make improvements.

A culture of learning

Career development is one of the main reasons people change jobs. Attract top performers to your organization—and keep them there—by weaving a culture of learning into your company values.

Co-create career paths with each employee during the onboarding process. Top performers generally like to be challenged, and will want to see what their futures at your company might look like if they stay long-term. Learn about your employees’ interests and career goals, and merge them with your company’s anticipated needs to create a mutually beneficial plan to inspire your career mapping.

Then provide development opportunities to help employees reach their goals and move along their career paths. Top performers become so by growing and learning in their fields. Opportunities for development allow them to continue learning and growing, and will be a big selling point for many top performers. They will also appreciate your investment in their futures, which can boost engagement and productivity.

A culture of feedback and recognition

Only 45 percent of employees are completely satisfied with the amount of recognition they receive. That’s a problem, as employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they'll quit in the next year. 

Top performers are usually well aware of the impact they make on business goals, and they want to be recognized for it. You can attract and retain great talent by creating a culture of feedback and recognition.

The most memorable recognition comes from an employee's manager (28 percent). This is closely followed by a high-level leader or CEO (24 percent), then the manager's manager (12 percent), a customer (10 percent), and peers (9 percent). 

Bake manager feedback and recognition into your employee onboarding program, and continue during regular one-on-ones throughout each employees’ tenure. Managers should share notable wins up the chain of command to ensure company leadership is aware of employee contributions and can recognize them as well. 

This may create a trickle down effect, where everyone in the company freely provides feedback and recognition—but there are things you can do to promote it internally. For instance, a praise wall or Slack channel where employees can recognize one another.

Final thoughts on building a company culture that appeals to top performers

It’s easy to lump top performers togethers in theory, but keep in mind that each is an individual with their own unique wants and needs. One top performer could be a workaholic who feels the most accomplished and happy after a long day of solving problems at work. Another could be a working parent who prefers to make the most of their time at work, but get out of the office at a reasonable hour. One top performer may be mission-driven when looking for job opportunities, while another may be looking for the highest paycheck. 

Top performers may not all care about inclusive company cultures that value learning and feedback. They may not care about company culture at all. But it’s safe to say that top performers usually have many choices when it comes to where they want to work. There are many factors that go into someone’s decision about where to work, and lacking in one area could mean you lose your top choice candidate to a competitor. Culture, inclusion, learning and development, and feedback and recognition can be great areas to focus on if you want to hire top performers.
But also take the time to think about the values that are important to your organization’s mission and vision, and which you want to see in your employees. Conduct stay interviews with your own top performers to learn why they joined your company—and why they stay. Then promote your authentic, unique company culture in employer branding materials and throughout your recruitment process to ensure you’re attracting the right top performers to your roles.


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What Top Performers Are Looking for in Company Culture