More and more employees are seeking benefits beyond monetary compensation–such as career development, access to senior management, leadership opportunities and improved work/life balance. To build a world-class workforce, a company must make recruiting, selecting and retaining talent a top priority.

An “A-player” workforce starts with recruiting the right people–high-potential individuals that uphold a company’s high standards of performance. Training employees is easier if you’ve been stringent in recruiting only top talent, and recruiting new talent is easier if you properly develop your current workforce. If done correctly, it is a great cycle of success.

A company’s finance, sales, management and human resources teams are needed to lay out the current and future workforce landscape and to determine where the opportunities lie. Extensive market research and candidate pool analysis should be conducted prior to sourcing individuals. With a strategic recruitment plan in place, both industry and non-industry professionals are considered through a combination of employee referrals, “talent scouts” and general applicants. Too often in the financial services industry, candidates of the same mold are repeatedly hired; an assorted pool of talent sources will assist in building a diverse employee body.

Locating the best of the best is still only half the battle. Even the best employees can be improved and further educated through a solid training and development program. New hire orientation, product and technical training, and a thorough introduction to a company’s business model and culture should be provided immediately as part of an extensive on-boarding process.

Creating awareness and invoking excitement in new employees speeds their time to productivity and ensures their use of the professional development opportunities made available to them. Additionally, mentoring cultivates a culture of success through hands-on management involvement and peer support. Less-experienced employees are paired with more seasoned professionals to encourage the sharing of best practices and to transfer the leadership skills that transcend the company.

While compensation, flexible work schedules and training are important tools for retaining employees, employers should not underestimate the power of a solid benefits package. A recent national study shows that employees feel more committed to their jobs when they understand how much their benefits package is worth and what it means to their retirement savings. This gives employers an opportunity to reevaluate their current benefit offerings in an effort to attract and keep top-performers.

A successful company must have a winning team of employees as its base, as well as the proper structure and strategy to execute its strategic intent. In most solutions-focused company business models, collaboration among units is essential and encourages cross-training opportunities for employees. Operational effectiveness is achieved when employees from different areas of the organization are engaged in conversation and shared learning to work toward the same goals.

A centralized business model not only allows for consistency, it also contributes to internal pride. Supporting the same initiatives and celebrating shared successes bolsters employee morale. It is worth mentioning that optimism and a positive work environment established by these characteristics not only leads to healthy work-life balance for employees, but also has further implications for talent management.

Happy people are easier to train because they are enthusiastic and willing to learn. Employees who are excited to come to work everyday and have high morale generate buzz around the company and ultimately attract people to you–competitors, partners and consumers. By maintaining high standards of performance and collaboration and keeping employees happy, you will inadvertently attract fresh “A-player” talent because everyone wants to be on a winning team.

An innovative, fully developed talent management strategy is devised with a real sensitivity to the balance between attracting and retaining top talent. Tenure breeds productivity, and it would be a waste to spend all those resources on recruiting and developing talent only to lose it to the competition.

Happy employees will want to stay, but let’s face it: Dollars pay the bills, and hard work must be compensated appropriately for it to continue. Cultivating this ambition through positive reinforcements helps ensure the retention of your “A-player” workforce, including long-term incentives, deferred compensation for eligible employees and annual recognition trips. Non-monetary awards also recognize exceptional leadership and reward individual success.

A strong commitment by a company to its employees cultivates “A-player” talent, which in turn attracts new talent. As talent develops internally, productivity increases and further strategic expansion is both necessary and possible, all the while maintaining the delicate balance between recruitment and retention. With the right business model, strategy and people, a company can ensure its continued success as a best-practice partner and as a true industry leader.

Terry Mullen is president of Lincoln Financial Distributors Inc., the wholesaling distribution organization for Lincoln Financial Group, Hartford, Conn. You can e-mail him at .