Note: This post originally appeared on Inc.com, where Hireology co-founder and CEO Adam Robinson is a regular contributor.

Are you willing to do what it takes to hire top quartile talent for your team?  Or will you be relegated to hiring the remaining available talent that your competitor decided wasn’t good enough for them?

It’s binary: you either are, or you aren’t.

Your ability to recruit, hire and retain top quartile talent starts with an understanding of what it takes to attract, hire and retain these top-performers.

For every compensation level, there’s a top quartile performance band.  These are the individuals who are in the top 25 percent of performance outcomes for that pay range; whether you’re hiring for $8.00/hr team members or $80,000/yr managers, there’s a top-tier performance group that represents the very best of that labor pool.

They’re yours to hire, or yours to lose.  Let’s take a look at each of these talent tiers and what it takes to win them over.

Tier Four Talent — Bottom 25 Percent

Tier Four Talent represents the lowest-performing talent available to you.  Your goal here is simple: don’t add these resources to your payroll.  This group of potential hires will exhibit chronic nonperformance and inflict untold brain damage on your management team.  Tier Four Talent lacks the requisite skills to perform, the desire to succeed in the role, and/or the right approach to being a member of a team.

You don’t have to compete for this talent.  This talent is available in large supply.

Tier Two and Three Talent — Middle 50 Percent

Tier Two and Tier Three Talent represents the C-plus to B-minus performers in the labor pool, and is the talent pool that’s available to you if you are presenting your open roles as “trading time for money.”  In other words, “Come work here and do this job, and we’ll pay you fair market wages and benefits.”

The problem with that approach is that just about everyone can offer a time-for-money deal. And most companies do exactly that: they run a business where talent is treated fairly, but the jobs are never about more than the paycheck earned.  It doesn’t take a lot of effort to compete for talent at this level, although a tight labor market means that wage increases in the labor market force you to increase your costs just to stay competitive.

Tier One Talent — Top 25 Percent

If you’re going to build an exceptional company, your jobs have to be about more than a paycheck.

What does Tier One Talent want from their employer? Research shows us that Tier One Talent expects three things from their employer: career growth, pay stability and work/life balance.

1. Career growth — “If I come to work for you, what do the next 24 months look like for me in terms of learning and promotion opportunities?”

2. Pay stability — “Will my pay fluctuate wildly? (bad) Or can I count on a base level of compensation that enables me to live my life? (good)”

3. Work/life balance — “Does this work environment give me the opportunity to find a balance between the time I spend working and the time I spend focused on the things that interest me?”

Yes, you’ll still be offering compensation in exchange for their time. But you’re also offering an investment in their future, a willingness to provide financial stability and a management style that increases their happiness.  In fact, you might even find that your labor costs go down when you take this approach to winning the war for Tier One Talent alent.

Tier One Talent is available to you if you’re willing to do what it takes to compete for it. For those unwilling to compete for this group of high-performers, Tiers Two, Three, and Four are yours for the picking.

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