Research by the National Center for the Middle Market in partnership with The Novo Group on attracting and retaining top talent shows that middle market firms with the most well-developed and compelling employee value propositions (EVPs) offer attractive options across the board. While base pay is part of the equation, it’s not at the top of the list for the majority of middle market firms. This post shares the most attractive components of a compelling EVP for attracting and retaining top talent.

People choose to work for companies for a reason. Many reasons, in fact. Put together, these various motivations and rationales add up to a company’s EVP, which is the sum total of the rewards and benefits—both tangible and intangible—that an individual receives in return for working at a company.

The majority of middle market firms agree that a company’s employee value proposition plays a critical role in its ability to attract and retain top talent. And it just makes sense: the greater the benefits or value your organization offers, the more likely a person will be interested in coming to work for you, or staying onboard at your company. That’s especially true when the person you’re trying to hire or keep is someone who has options—a proven executive or someone with deep technical skills, for example.

So what do middle market firms have to offer?

While base pay is an attractive component of an EVP, it’s not at the top of the list or even in the top five benefits for the majority of middle firms. When asked to rank the most important and attractive components of their EVPs, middle market executives listed attributes such as meaningfulness of work, company culture, and the quality of their people first.

The majority (80% or more) of middle market companies with strong EVPs also cite their benefits package, incentive and bonus programs, mission and purpose of the company, job security, and opportunities for promotion and advancement as important elements in their value proposition.

But do these attributes resonate with potential candidates?

The survey says: Yes.

The Novo Group, a leading talent acquisition and consulting firm, conducted a complementary survey of passive top-talent candidates, or candidates who are not actively seeking a job, but could be open to new opportunities should the right one come along. The results from this study show that while the vast majority of passive candidates are interested in salary, it’s not the only thing that turns their heads.

Nearly half of passive candidates would also pay attention to potential growth opportunities or the chance for greater work/life balance. And more than a third of passive candidates say opportunities for promotion would catch their attention.

The takeaway for middle market firms: Money isn’t everything.

This is good news for the middle market. Middle market companies must compete with each other and with smaller and larger firms for top talent, but they may not be able to match the compensation packages offered by bigger companies. However, they can differentiate in terms of culture and meaningfulness of work—attributes that are much harder to duplicate than an attractive paycheck.

That said, middle market executives who wish to attract the best candidates for top positions may have success by focusing on benefits that set them apart from the crowd. Things like the ability to offer candidates greater responsibility, a faster growth path, and more time with the CEO are unique advantages for middle market firms. Many middle market companies can also provide more flexibility or less travel than larger firms, which can translate into better work/life balance.

Such attributes clearly resonate with candidates. When middle market executives incorporate them into a comprehensive and distinctive employee value proposition—and effectively promote that EVP to the talent they wish to attract— they can give their companies the edge they need to win the quest for the best.

To learn more bout employee value propositions and the Center’s top talent research, see Building the Top Team: How Middle Market Firms Attract and Retain the Top Talent that Fuels Their Success. Or learn more about how to create and promote a bullet-proof EVP.

Six things your middle market company can do to establish a great employer brand and EVP. View Infographic >

Take a deeper look at how your company can build a team of top talent with these 11 steps. View Infographic >

This post is part of a larger research project by the National Center for the Middle Market. Get the full picture through the resources below: