What Top Employees Want

Reshaping the Big Picture

This may sound familiar… top employees want to have it all… but there’s a difference today.

Yes, having it all includes having financial success, but today there’s more.

Whether we figured it out the hard way or were able to discover it through others, many top employees are shooting higher than mere financial success.

“Traditional success alone is a milestone, not a destination.”

-Peter C. Atherton

In addition to traditional financial success, top employees want greater meaning in their lives and purpose in their work.

Top employees also do not want to stop growing once they have mastered their craft and made a name for themselves: these accomplishments are also just milestones.

Top employees want to build on those milestones in order to become the full person they were meant to be… and have the impact at work and in life they were meant to have.

These wants are not simply the dreams of the past, captured in a senior quote or college essay and then forgotten. These are wired in.  Sure, the grind of 8:00 a.m. classes and finals weeks, figuring out what to do after college, and then landing that first job may have buried them a little.  And yes, the 10, 20, or even 30 years of mastering a craft, making a name, and raising a family, may have buried them a bit deeper, but they are still there… and they easily emerge when we take any time to reflect.

No matter what our position or what products and services we produce at work, we are human and we all want greater meaning, purpose, and continuous growth.

When these don’t exist, many choose to pivot away.


So other than financial success and greater meaning, purpose, and continuous growth, what do top employees want?


First, they want a little help managing the realities of work and life today.  Top employees, want more flexibility and control over time to better integrate and balance.

They also want some help keeping perspectives.  They could use some wise counsel and empathetic coaching on how to best prioritize and transition between seasons.

In our world of busyness, they want to be reminded from time to time of the big picture and the goals that matter most, not just what it’s going to take to meet this quarter’s budget.

They want to maximize their ability to achieve their goals today but not at the expense of their dreams or their future.

Top employees will not settle forever.  If they don’t get help from their leaders and organizations, they are certainly capable of getting it themselves.  It may take a while to get out of the burnout-disengagement cycle, but top employees eventually will.

In my book, Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, I share what can happen when leaders and organizations fail to address burnout and disengagement, and but…

What if “a little help” is provided rather than forcing or waiting for top employees to figure it out themselves?

Well, for those willing to invest in effective employee engagement and retention strategies, there is a tremendous upside just in terms of reducing the cost of employee turnover alone.


Top employees today are also interested in developing their own brand and their own platform.

They want to have an identity and stand for something – their BRAND.  They want to have a setting or a stage where they can share what they have to offer and deliver the impact they want to have at work… and in life – their PLATFORM.

This is a mindset top leaders and organizations need to embrace when dealing with top talent.

Top leaders and organizations are not threatened by this.  In fact, they leveraging this desire by designing alignment and pursuing impact and purpose beyond just products, services, and salaries.

“Top leaders and organizations will design opportunities to align brands and platforms with top performers and to co-create opportunities, products, and services that work for all.”

-Peter C. Atherton

Top leaders and organizations also embrace the security top employees feel when they have a unique brand and platform… and they work to inspire employee engagement through relationships and build trust.

Today, it is the role of leaders and organizations to inspire that engagement and build that trust.  It is an employee’s decision whether what’s offered is motivation enough to be retained… or whether the trust extended is authentic enough to build loyalty, respect, and even reverence.

Financial success, meaning, purpose, growth, more flexibility and control, coaching, and security through having a brand and a platform… plus authentic relationships that inspire engagement and trust.

This is what top employees want.  Sound familiar?… it is what we as leaders want today too.

To your winning,

PS – Ready to enhance your employee engagement and simultaneously increase your impact by design?  Check out our 60 to 90-day Fast Start Program.

PSS – Click HERE or sign-up below to receive a free download of “10 Top Leader Traits to Thrive Today”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Pete headshot

Pete Atherton

About the Author

Pete is the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, and creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process.  ActionsProve works with professionals and business owners to create greater growth and profits through more effective employee attraction and retention, impact, and branding.  Prior to founding ActionsProve, and for more than 20 years, Pete was a very successful and accomplished professional engineer.  Pete sold his engineering firm ownership to focus on designing systems for you and your organization to grow and succeed in more relevant and effective ways.  For over a dozen years, Pete has also been serving in multiple capacities in the non-profit sector to achieve both local and global impact, and is a co-founder of the 100 Men Who Care chapter for Knoxville and the 100 Men Who Care chapter for Southern Maine.

For a more expansive biography and experience summary.

Join our LinkedIn network!

Join our ActionsProve community and receive free the "10 Top Leader Traits to Thrive Today" PDF!

What Top Employees Want