High performers are dream hires for a good reason: they’re 400% more productive than the average employee. They’re creative problem solvers who not only consistently outperform expectations but also push their colleagues to do the same.

Here in Denver, these high performers are especially difficult to recruit and retain. With unemployment rates dropping below 3 percent in the Denver market, top talent can afford to be selective when choosing a company. You can’t count on a competitive salary and compensation package to seal the deal. These high performers care deeply about their prospective work environment and company culture. In fact, they may even accept a lower salary in order to work for a company that aligns with their day-to-day needs.

In the last year, I’ve placed nine extremely talented high performers with a company here in Denver. While this company’s base pay is slightly below the industry average, the company’s workplace culture is unparalleled. These four key attributes make top talent eager to join the company and compete for a sought-after offer.

1. Autonomy. High performers thrive in environments of autonomy, empowerment, and trust, and avoid companies where a “mandatory 9-to-5” is the norm. Top performers are not clock-watchers. You don’t need to tell them when to come and go. You can trust them to take ownership of their schedule and they desire an environment that empowers this autonomy.

Top performers are attracted to companies that offer unlimited PTO and flexible work arrangements not because they’re looking to work less, but because these offerings are a signal that the company trusts its employees to manage their own schedules.

2. No red tape. High performers dislike unnecessary office politics. They’re ready to make an immediate difference and focus their energy on innovating new processes at work, not wasting hours copying everyone on email chains, worrying about water cooler gossip or dealing with layers of project approval red tape. That’s why high performers are attracted to non-hierarchical environments with minimal office politics and red tape. They avoid companies with a reputation for having institutional barriers that block innovation or force unnecessary adherence to outdated protocols.

3. Collaborative, supportive leadership. High performers thrive on direct access to key decision makers. They value the ability to stop by a supervisor’s office and discuss an idea without having to go through three layers of red tape to make an official “appointment”. This access goes both ways– it’s not just an open door policy for executive leaders. Companies that attract high-performance employees are led by executives that are just as willing to stop by an employee’s desk and ask for his or her input.

High performers also value input and feedback from their supervisors, peers, and direct reports. They want detailed information on their performance throughout the year so they can continually improve. Collaborative, supportive leadership understands this need and ensures high performers receive consistent, actionable feedback.

4. Cross-training opportunities. High performers seek dynamic environments with the opportunity for special projects and cross training. They’re eager to collaborate with equally high performing peers across departments and companies, white-boarding new ideas and sharing best practices. Companies that land high performers are meritocracies. Promotions, raises, and bonuses are merit-based, rather than based solely on tenure and seniority.

Companies that attract high performers know how special this talent truly is when they find it. They hire the high performer with the right core skill sets and then adapt to create a position that fits this person, rather than trying to squeeze someone into the wrong role.

Is your organization struggling to attract high performers in this competitive talent market? To learn how an executive recruiter can help, contact me at mparker@lucasgroup.com.

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