It's probably no surprise that a fat raise is a good way to help keep employees happy. • But companies won't hang on to their best people with money alone.
"What we have seen for years is pay is not the No. 1 reason" that top performers stay put, said Antoinette Petrucci of Buck Consultants, a leading global human resource consulting firm.
"It's not just about retaining them, but keeping them fired up and engaged."
With the economy on the mend, it's a critical time for companies to review their pay and workplace policies or risk having their top talent picked off, she said.
A Buck survey in January found nearly 90 percent of companies that had frozen workers' pay during the previous 18 months had already lifted the freeze or planned to do so this year.
Data show "employees are becoming frustrated and dissatisfied with their jobs. Some are feeling like their employers exploited the recession to make them work harder," Petrucci said.
Companies that expect to keep their top people should make sure salaries are fully competitive, although proper pay is just a starting point, she said.
Employers that set themselves apart have senior leaders who spend a lot of time talking about their high performers and analyzing why they are high performers, she said.
"They talk a lot and do a lot for their talent."
One of the most important things to do for employees is to help them meet lifelong goals of staying healthy and being financially secure in retirement, Petrucci said.
Benefits may include health risk assessments, preventative health care and financial education to help employees understand what they need to do to retire comfortably.
At work, as in any relationship, trust is key to keeping people connected, Petrucci said.
Bosses who speak openly and honestly with employees are more likely to keep their best people, she said. According to Buck focus groups, one of the top reasons employees look for another job is a lack of trust in senior management.
"People know if business is good, but budgets are still getting cut. Those are things companies should try to avoid."