What companies must do to keep top talent

We all know what the readily accepted company perks that most businesses use to attract and keep top talent. Competitive wages, great benefits and flexible PTO are all great incentives a lot of companies use. But what else are companies with highly talented workforces doing to keep their people? 

Challenging and open environments 

As you might have heard, SpaceX and Tesla are taking and attracting talent from every Fortune 500 company in Silicon Valley these days. Both companies are at the cutting edge of their industries and highly talented, motivated people flock to companies like that.

Now your company’s mission statement probably isn’t ‘to enable the space flight capabilities necessary to make human life multi-planetary - or more specifically enable a self sustaining human civilization on Mars’ but it doesn’t mean you can’t act like SpaceX. Empower your employees to improve themselves, go after more and more difficult objectives and reward them when they hit high expectations. Making sure your most talented people are always engaged is critical to them sticking around for the long haul. 

There can be some misunderstandings attributed to this idea. Say you’re a software company and people think that the only way to keep employees engaged is to make newer and newer features to your software or creating new ways to market those processes. Engagement can come out of going into old, pre-existing features and figuring out how to better utilize them. Talented employees will find the value in optimizing old features and processes, not just new ones. 

What I suggest is pretty regular performance reviews. Nothing too intense - a monthly or bimonthly 30 minute session for both parties to express how well their objectives have been going, what they’re looking forward to next and what tools or guidance they need to accomplish them. This allows for both parties to know exactly what is expected of each other until the next meeting. 

Investing to make them a better person, not just a better employee 

This one is huge and is standard among companies with the highest employee retention rates. Most employees who want to continually get better and achieve bigger things professionally also want that sense of accomplishment in their personal lives. That’s why gym and coed sport reimbursement, college/extra curricular course reimbursement and volunteer time off are such big perks when candidates are comparing and contrasting companies. 

We did a company soccer team at Dominion this summer paid by the company and while we lost pretty much all of our games, we had a great time doing so (happy hours helped as well). 

Salesforce has long been the gold standard of volunteering for tech companies and what they’ve been up to lately is no different. Their annual conference, Dreamforce, has an entire week of volunteer and charitable donation opportunities (link) planned out through the week of the conference. 

At Dominion we receive a lot of Volunteer Time Off (VTO) every calendar year to use at non-profits of our choice. It’s a great way to build comradery, help your community and take some time to give back to those less fortunate.  


I know the old adage, why would I pay my employees tuition costs if they’re just going to use those new skills to get a new job? But I don’t really understand that thinking. As long as the company strategically implements these tuition reimbursement programs and monitors their ROI, there’s no reason a majority of firms shouldn’t offer these programs. This article is a fascinating read on how a couple of huge companies implemented and monitored their tuition programs.

Here’s an excerpt, ”For instance, Martin said turnover went down by 50 percent, which is rare in an industry filled with entry-level, front-line employees. In her last five-year study, 72 percent of graduated employees had stayed with Verizon during that period. ‘They do stay with you,’ she said. ‘You have to provide more opportunities, but it really worked to our advantage.’”