Q: I am experiencing a high volume of employee turnover. Our starting salary is at the upper end of our industry’s pay scale. What more should I offer to attract and retain good people?

A: “Show me the money”, the famous line from the movie “Jerry Maguire” rarely rings true today. Based on years of consulting, Semler Brossy, an independent executive compensation consulting firm, has concluded that a company's ability to get and keep top talent takes far more than money.

Especially in the age of Millennials, it is important for businesses to have a winning employee value proposition (EVP). You need to differentiate with more than pay if you want all-stars.

So what does an EVP entail? In general, consider the following:

  • Affiliation. This means belonging to an organization that is admired and has a culture that fits you. Think of Fortune's most admired companies, such as Apple, Berkshire Hathaway and GE, or private companies such as Wegmans Food Markets. Employees love to work at these companies and they are proud to do so.
  • Work content. People draw great satisfaction from the work they do. People love working at companies like Priceline.com because their jobs encourage constant innovation and collaboration. Also, Google, where you are given 20% of your time to test out your own ideas.
  • Career. This includes long-term opportunities for development and advancement. Case in point: The Vanguard Group, where people frequently stay with the financial advising company for 20 years (or more) with regular opportunities for advancement throughout their careers.
  • Financial rewards. This includes salary, cash and equity incentives and ownership opportunities. Big investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and media giants such as Viacom regularly top the best paid lists. But even with the high pay, people move a lot. Pay gets you only so far.
  • Indirect financial rewards. This includes benefits, perquisites and recognition opportunities. While harder to find in the private sector, business owners should not discount the value to employees of education, retirement and health benefits.

Turning to real life, a former client who was a leader in a very high paying industry paid well below the high flyers, but the company did not want hired guns. Instead, it invested in its people, providing substantial advancement opportunities.

It largely promoted from within, regularly moving people from staff jobs to line positions and vice versa, allowing people to grow in their jobs, giving them as much responsibility as they could handle. Most importantly, the culture was highly values-driven, with teamwork, integrity and respect for the individual being paramount.

At one point, the company seriously considered changing the pay program to make it highly individualistic with considerably more upside. The management group was surveyed. The verdict, higher pay was not worth sacrificing the culture. Ultimately, the company still got top talent and is a consistent top performer in its industry.

The bottom line, understand what top talent wants and craft an EVP that appeals to them. This rarely means just paying top dollar.

About the Author: Seymour Burchman is a Managing Director at Semler Brossy Consulting Group and can be reached at sburchman@semlerbrossy.com. Mr. Burchman is also a volunteer with the Naples Chapter of SCORE that offers free and confidential counseling to small businesses. To register, call 239-430-0081 or visit http://naples.score.org/mentors. A counselor will contact you within 48 hours. Please include your name, email address, and contact phone number.