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How to Retain Your Top Talent

It’s no secret that hiring can be a cumbersome process – it’s time-consuming, expensive, and critical to the future success of an organization. When you find the right people for your team, what are you and the organization as a whole doing to ensure that your top performers are motivated to stay for the long-term? Retaining top talent needs to be a top priority for every Manager, especially in such a competitive market.

At Lannick, it’s my job to help organizations find talented professionals. However, I’ve been asked on multiple occasions by hiring managers to advise on how to retain top talent. I like to break employee retention down to five key factors: compensation, career development, role, culture, and relationships. Since no two people are alike, the weighting of factors will differ from person to person, role to role. As a Manager, it’s important to identify which factors resonate most with each of your staff and adjust their retention plan accordingly. For each factor, I’ve included a few questions that can be incorporated into performance reviews to help you better understand what it will take to retain each member of your team.

5 Factors that Will Help Your Organization Retain Top Talent:


  • While financial compensation is an important factor in retaining and attracting top talent, it shouldn’t be viewed as the ultimate deal breaker. However, if budget is an issue or if internal pay bands require a lower base salary to be paid, you’ll want to rely more heavily on the other factors I describe in this article.
  • When looking at compensation aside from all other factors, salaries should be comparable or above current market rates. Your recruitment partner can help you structure a competitive compensation package, as well as provide insights into how your competitors are compensating individuals who are in comparable positions.
  • Discretionary bonuses for outstanding work and/or performance that is over and above their job requirements can be awarded on a quarterly, annual or ad-hoc basis. Offering a more attractive bonus structure is a great way to offset a lower base salary.
  • If applicable, stock options, pension plans, RRSP matching, corporate equity, RSUs (Restricted Share Units), or target-driven bonuses are powerful retention tools.
Questions to Ask:
  • What amount of money would motivate you to consider leaving this role?
  • What additional non-compensation factors would influence your decision?

Career Development

  • A career path helps employees understand their current role in the context of the larger corporate hierarchy, and allows them to see all the possibilities that can be available to them. Sit down with each member of your team to define a career path which reflects the opportunities available within your organization, and that will lead to the accomplishment of both their personal goals and corporate targets. Keep in mind that the trajectory for someone who wants to eventually move into Senior Management will be much different than someone who doesn’t.
  • Set performance goals that are measurable and achievable. Ideally, promotion requirements should be tied back to these objectives.
  • Conduct regular performance reviews. If your HR department doesn’t have a formal process in place, create a worksheet with input from the employee that can be used to document the review and track their performance.
  • Notify your team about new internal opportunities (both upward and lateral) within the organization.
Questions to Ask:
  • What do you want to achieve professionally in the next 1 / 3 / 5 years?
  • What areas of the business are you interested in?
  • How would you like your current role to evolve?


  • Consider the type of work that is being done – is it challenging, interesting, relevant, and within the scope of the job description? As an employee becomes more tenured in their role, look for ways to keep the work engaging, if a promotion is not currently an option.
  • Think about what can be done to make your employee’s job easier. Do they have the resources they need to fulfill their professional responsibilities? Is their workload manageable? Do they have access to management and support staff? Have they been allocated a sufficient budget to hire additional resources/direct reports?
  • If the budget allows, upgrade the tools and systems in use. It’s easy for employees to become disgruntled if they are lacking the resources required to get the job done, especially if they are forced to work longer hours as a result.
Questions to Ask:
  • What do you like most about your current role? Least?
  • If you could change one aspect of your role, what would it be and why?
  • Are you feeling challenged in your role?
  • What roadblocks are preventing you from being more productive/successful in your current role?
  • Is there anything that Management can do to assist you in your current role?


  • Work-life balance continues to be an extremely important factor in an employee’s decision to stay with their current organization or to make a move elsewhere. It’s also something that job seekers look for in potential employers.
  • Some effective ways to retain your top talent includes offering flexible hours and the option to work remotely, having generous vacation policies, allowing employees to bank time off (in lieu of overtime hours put in), and etc.
  • Consider how teams function within the workplace. Is there a lot of bureaucracy that can be avoided? Do people trust and respect each other? Strong team dynamics can go a long way in maintaining a positive office atmosphere and day-to-day happiness at work.
  • If budget permits, offer additional perks and benefits that are in-line with your company’s culture. Some of my favourites include subsidized gym memberships and transit passes, enhanced health spending accounts, tuition reimbursement, and professional development allowances. Team building activities that help to promote trust and respect within the workplace, such as team lunches and outings, are also effective.
Questions to Ask:
  • How would you describe our culture to a friend?
  • What additional perks/benefits would be of most interest to you?


  • The people we work with have a massive influence on how much we enjoy our jobs. When building teams, it’s important to prioritize cultural fit along with technical fit. Employees will be most successful when they are surrounded by a positive, high-performing team.
  • People are much more likely to stay in a job when they have a direct Manager that they trust and can relate to. Day-to-day support, autonomy in decision making, and professional development are all important things to consider when assigning someone a manager.
  • Direct reports also factor into the retention equation. Are they reliable, team-oriented and willing to learn? Can they be trusted to get the job done?
  • Acknowledgment from Senior Management goes a long way. This can come in many forms such as mentorship, face time in meetings, transparency in communications, and specific recognition for a job well done.
Questions to Ask:
  • How would you describe your relationship with your manager and direct reports? How would they describe you?
  • Do you enjoy coming to work?
  • Do you enjoy working with your co-workers?
  • Do you feel like you are recognized (by peers/management) when you do a good job?

Keeping these five factors in mind, I encourage you to start developing retention plans for your top performers. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at hhui@lannick.com.

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