Several years ago, one of the Big Four Australian banks approached me. They were interested in offering me a role in their strategy team. I thanked them for their interest but declined the offer.

I made the decision before they had any chance to sell me the role, company legacy, reward, amd so on. Why? Because they failed to meet one critical work-related need: a convenient location.

It got me thinking. Why do people choose to work for one company over another? What is it that makes one company irresistibly attractive to talented and high-potential employees?

To help answer these questions, I developed the PERLS© Individual Motivation Model.

Each letter in the PERLS© Model stands for a key motivation area. The importance of each area will vary from person to person and may change over time. The top talent-attracting companies have a good understanding of what people want and have a plan to improve their offering over time.

The PERLS model works equally well for retaining talent. Sometimes what got a talented employee in the door is not what will keep them continuing to work for you.


This is about the role and the work involved. Key considerations include:
• What will I be doing every day?
• What are the expected hours of work?
• How much will I learn? What training and development opportunities will I receive?
• Will I get to make a difference with a company I am inspired by?
• What are the opportunities for advancement?
• What is the job security like?


This is about the physical work environment and is often more important than many businesses realise.
• Where is the business located? How convenient is the location to public transport, shops, gyms, childcare?
• How flexible are the work arrangements? (Can I work from home?)
• Do I get my own office? Is the workspace open plan?
• What kind of equipment am I able to work with? (Macs vs PCs; new vs old)
• How inviting is the workspace? (Is the environment fresh, fun and interesting?)

Rewards and Recognition

This is about the all-important money, incentives, bonuses and recognition.
• How much will I get paid? What kind of bonuses or incentives am I entitled to?
• What other inclusions come with my package?
• How are top performers recognised?
• Will working in this role in your organisation look good on my resume?


Anyone that says leadership doesn’t matter hasn’t worked for a really bad leader! A poor-quality leader can very quickly put a hole in your talent pool.
• How effective are the leaders?
• What level of autonomy will I have in the role?
• Why would I want to work for you?


This is about the people you work with and the business culture that resonates within the work environment. Not only can it make a big difference to attraction and retention, it can also have a huge impact on the happiness and productivity of the business.
• What are the people I would be working with like?
• Is the culture right for me – will I fit in?
• What is the vision, values and behaviours of the company? How well do I connect with them?
• What are the unwritten rules on how we do things around here?
• What social opportunities does the workplace provide? (Friday afternoon drinks, company conferences, and so on)
• Will I enjoy the company of my work colleagues?

Understandably, it is hard to appeal to everyone in all things and it is often silly to try. Let’s face it – most companies will not have the budget or opportunity to offer an enjoyable, meaningful, well-paid position in the perfect location with the best leader at the helm. And that’s okay.

However, many organisations have important blind spots they either don’t understand or don’t do anything about. They are also often unaware of the true cost of lost talent, which compounds over time.

The PERLS model offers a series of perspectives to think through your attraction and retention strategy and hopefully alert you to some important areas for improvement.