New Rules for Transformative Workplace (Creating and Retaining Top Performers)

Posted By: Elizabeth Pike APP Monitor,

As the owner of a payments and fintech recruiting firm,  I speak with a wide variety of business owners and leaders -from startups to Fortune 500 to SMB.  Lately most calls have been focused on  the job market, and what top performing employees require to stay happy at their company. The thriving companies have made key changes in the below 4 areas:

1. Hybrid or work-remote is ideal and often necessary. The most successful companies are fully remote, or creating hubs and only requiring employees to come onsite as necessary. I understand this can be painful to those of us who have purchased office buildings or renewed leases right before the pandemic, as I did. However, converting to remote/hybrid opens up a wealth of talent –not just by expanding to other geographic locations, but also opening up hiring to those who can only work remote, due to caregiving, commute, or a variety of reasons.

2. Increased salaries are here to stay.  Get comfortable paying employees market rate, and proactively providing career plan and raises to keep performers long-term. Ensure when the company wins, employees win.  I thought salaries haven’t increased for regular workers since 2001, when I entered the job force.  But it’s worse --salaries haven’t increased since 1979!  Not only is this an opportunity as business leaders to significantly move the needle in employee wealth, better paid teams are more productive.  

(Real Wage Trends -1979-2019) of stagnant median wages have therefore raised ... annualized wage growth was 0.6% over 1979-1999 and 1.1% over 1999-2019.

3. Build a truly good culture. For a long time, many business cultures have gotten away with focusing only on revenue, and cut-throat tactics or office politics being thought of as ‘sharpening our edge’ and necessary. Not only are toxic environments annoying and eat up time, that environment is also incredibly damaging to employees –even employees that excel in what is euphemistically a “competitive environment.”

Respecting all employees equally is imperative. True inclusion is not simply bringing a variety of experiences to the table. Inclusion means listening, learning, and growing by integrating other perspectives.

Clear communication and timely responses to questions or concerns are also  key, and not just during the interview process. Many Top Performers are vocal with leadership about their concerns or ambitions, only looking at other companies if they are ignored.  

4. Make hiring decisions quickly, with clear communication. The job market is incredibly hot right now, and how hiring managers communicate with candidates is generally indicative of how managers will communicate with their employees. Many people are getting unexpected counter-offers/promotions when putting in their notice. Stand out as a company by setting clear expectations for the role and interview process, provide timely feedback on each stage and next steps, and fully understand interviewing is a two-way street;  it’s important to both sides to ask the hard questions now to determine a long-term fit.


I recognize what I’ve described is a far cry from romanticized boiler-room environments of the past. The pandemic has opened the door to a new way to do business ; a way that is balanced, focused on learning, and targeted towards strategic long-term growth. I’m excited that payments is leading the way in this business revolution.