If we all know top talent can move the needle faster than everyone else, why is it that companies consistently shy away from taking bold steps to differentiate how they reward their best value creators? The answer is often two-fold: limited compensation budgets and equity pools that are usually spread too thinly across organizations, and HR departments that are leery of creating “have” vs. “have-not” classes of employees at a time when fairness is more important than ever. As a result, efforts to differentiate for key talent can suffer.
To break this cycle, companies need to be both bolder and more flexible in how they incentivize top talent at all levels, not just the executive ranks. To truly incentivize and retain your top talent, you must use all of the tools at your disposal, including merit increases, bonuses, long-term incentives, career opportunities, training, mobility, flexibility and more. However, you don’t have to give everything to every top performer— you can be selective in how you deploy these tools and work with top performers to craft specific plans that work best for them. Another key in this day and age is to be transparent about how new career opportunities and rewards decisions are made so they are perceived to be fair and merit-based across your organization.