Why Paying More Money for Top Performers Is More than Worth It


6 Tips to Hiring the Best Employees and Leaders Money Can Buy

The time is now to stop compromising. Making bad hires is no longer an option. Businesses are closing left and right because of the Covid lockdowns, and if you want your business to survive, you need to dial in your hiring processes and learn how to identify, attract, and hire top performers.

Too many employers end up settling. They don’t want to restart the recruiting process if the first round seems to result in no great choices. And yes, it’s frustrating to narrow down all your candidates, only to discover in the interview round that you have zero top performers in the bunch.

Refuse to settle.

A McKinsey study found that “superior talent is up to eight times more productive than average employees.”

And, the cost of a bad hire can be destructive for your company, and the fallout can last for years. The writer of this Forbes article talks about a person she hired who ended up driving away two other high quality employees before finally getting dismissed, “an exceptionally high price to pay.”

The US Department of Labor estimates the financial cost of a bad hire to be about 30% of the employee’s first-year salary, but the same Forbes article reports that chief financial officers actually consider the impacts on morale and productivity across the company to be more costly than just the money lost.

The good news is, if you institute the right process, you can find a top performer in your first round of recruiting. Here are six tips to making that happen.


1. Understand What a Top Performer Looks Like

Recruiting top talent begins by knowing what to look for and how to identify it when you see it.

Top performers tend to exhibit a number of powerful soft skills and personal traits that don’t show up on resumes. These highly productive skills and traits include:

  • Ability to self-manage – you don’t have to keep telling them what to do, it just gets done
  • Good communication skills
  • Innate desire to keep learning and gain new skills – they are goal-oriented and need little motivation from you
  • Personal desire to deliver high quality – holding themselves to high standards
  • Hungry for feedback – they want to know how they can improve
  • Not afraid to make decisions, even risky ones
  • Able to work under pressure
  • Passionate about their work, and with a positive attitude


Top performers don’t whine about having to work outside their job descriptions now and then. What they care about is getting it done, on time, and at the highest level of quality.

Does this sound like a person you would want to hire?

These people exist, and they can be found – from the lowest level service positions up to high level leadership.


2. Prepare to Pay Them More

Lost Time. Lost GrowthYes, you should pay your top performers more. Why? Because you want to keep them! Losing a top performer can be almost as detrimental as hiring a toxic employee.

But recognize something here. You will save money in the long run. With higher performance, fewer personal issues and conflicts, little need for monitoring and motivation, and superior reliability, you will spend less to employ a top performer, and you will grow your business as a result of their work.

What might this look like?

Suppose you have a top performer who figures out how to complete a task in half the time. Because this is a task others also have to do, they share their approach with you, develop a system for it, and then train the other team members on how to do it.

That one person has just saved hours and hours of time, indefinitely, across the whole team.

For another example, what if they just work faster, take fewer ‘unauthorized’ breaks, show up every day on time, and consistently deliver at a higher level of quality? Over weeks, months, and years, this higher productivity is like gold. Paying them a bit more for their work isn’t costing you. It’s saving you, if you compare it against not having this person on your team.

Another thing to remember is that salary isn’t everything. Though you might pay a top performer more money, their benefits won’t cost any more. Recruiting them doesn’t cost any more. There are fixed costs that apply to all employees.

And in some ways, those fixed costs aren’t fixed – but will be lower for top performers, not higher. A top performer will miss less work and use fewer sick days, for instance. That means less HR paperwork and stress on the system.


3. Set Up Incentive Payment Structures

What if you’re not confident enough that you’ve found a top performer in your hiring process, and aren’t ready to pay them more? One way around this is to set up incentive-based salary structures.

Give raises based on longevity of course, but don’t stop there. Find ways to measure and reward other forms of productivity. Figure out how to do this in your company, and your top performers will reveal themselves by rising up from among the masses of average workers. They will ascend your incentive structure – and not just for the money, but because it’s who they are.

But the important thing is, they will appreciate being rewarded for who they are, because this is what they believe their work is about – doing it the best it can be done.


4. Create More Opportunities to Lead and Influence

Top performers often find ways things can be done better. When an employee comes to a leader and offers a suggestion that improves productivity, sales, efficiency, or some other metric, that’s an indication you are talking to a top performer.

So don’t just take their idea and run with it. Recognize what sort of worker this is, and give them a chance to stretch their wings and take on a leadership role of some sort.


5. Give More Feedback to Top Performers Than Regular Employees

Give more feedback, not less, to your top performers. Why? Because they want to hear it! They will actually listen to you, and their performance will get even better.

Have you ever found yourself giving the same advice and requests to the same employees, month after month, and nothing changes? That employee isn’t a top performer. They just don’t care that much.

Spend your greatest amounts of feedback on the people who want to hear it.


6. Use Soft-Skills Assessments as an Integral Part of Your Hiring and Recruiting Process

To sift through applicants for your positions – especially your most important ones such as leadership and key support roles – you need to stop relying on resumes and traditional recruitment methods.

Networking isn’t enough either.

You need a scientific, data-driven approach that allows top performers to distinguish themselves before you accidentally weed them out of your candidate pool. What a tragedy to have a top performer applying for a key position at your company, but to be removed from consideration because of a technicality like not having the exact college degree or number of years of experience you think is required.

Do those things matter? Certainly. But what matters more are the intangible but discoverable qualities and soft skills listed earlier. These traits and skills result in higher productivity, better employee relations, and longevity.


employment testingPainLess Hire’s innovative hiring process has been designed to weed out the average workers – even if their resumes seem strong – and allow top performers to be found.

We do this using a carefully craft skills assessment process, combined with specialized processes for finding and attracting top performers – even if they are currently employed elsewhere.

Let PainLess Hire help find your top performers, and be one of the business success stories that survives and thrives no matter what’s going on in the world.



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