Tips for Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent with Limited Resources

Written by
George Dickson
George Dickson

Recruiting and retaining top talent is a considerable challenge, even for organizations with vast resources. So how can you possibly hope to stay competitive with limited resources?

It's more realistic than you might believe. You don't need to offer massive paychecks and bonuses to attract top talent. Most modern employees (especially millennials) are less interested in extrinsic motivators like monetary compensation than their predecessors. They're often driven to a large degree by intrinsic motivators like purpose and autonomy.

This isn't an argument for lower wages—offering a fair and equitable wage is still a crucial element of any recruiting/retention strategy.

The key is that if you do offer a wage on which employees can comfortably support themselves and their family, it's possible to attract top talent without a Google- or Facebook-sized compensation package.

How do you do that?

I'm not going to tell you it's easy, but with the right focus it is absolutely possible. Let's start with some of the basic elements any organization can provide, independent of its monetary resources:


Purpose is one of the strongest motivators in the modern workforce.

The good news is, you don't have to be a non-profit organization to provide employees with purposeful work.

Arthur Woods explained in a recent interview that the perceived exclusivity related to purpose professions is a fallacy, any profession can be a purpose profession.

The purpose in any profession is largely dependent on perception. You can help your team to see the purpose in nearly any type of work, whether that work involves building rockets, developing affordable housing, or providing hospitality.

Show employees how much their work genuinely matters to you; how it impacts the organization, their co-workers, and the outside world, and you're well on your way to providing potential and current employees with a purpose-driven profession.


The working environment is another crucial, and equally misunderstood element that is necessary to attract and retain top talent.

You don't need to provide ping pong tables, expensive furniture, free lunch, or an exclusive location. Although the physical aspects of a work environment are important, they're not the only things you have control over.

What do the non-physical elements of your organization's environment look like?

Providing a positive environment of inspiration, security, personal growth, and camaraderie is more valuable to employees than any corner office.

Think holistically about the work environment you're providing, and how you can improve it.


To attract great talent without big paychecks, you're going to need great culture.

Organizational culture is an irreplaceable piece of the employee attraction/retention puzzle. Top talent have multiple options to choose from, and most potential employees can smell poor company culture a mile away.

Some employers compensate for poor culture with large paychecks, but that's not an option for everyone, and it's ultimately an unsustainable strategy.

A positive culture of appreciation and recognition is a massive advantage in the never-ending battle for the best talent. There are several ways to build a great culture, many of which we've discussed in depth previously.

No matter the approach you take to building culture, building it deliberately is a crucial requirement.

There are many ways to attract top talent and many recruiting software options to use. If you can provide potential and current staff with purposeful work, a great environment, and a strong, positive company culture, there's a good chance you'll consistently beat out competitors with bigger bank accounts.

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Originally published on August 10, 2015 → Last updated July 22, 2020

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George Dickson

George is dedicated to strengthening organizational cultures with thoughtful leadership and frequent recognition. George formerly managed content and community at Bonusly.


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