With 2018 quickly approaching, many employers are strategically planning ahead to ensure optimal growth across all areas of their business in the new year. Read on as ForceBrands’ Director of Client Strategy Ben Ramsey shares how brands should best navigate bonus season to ensure they don’t lose their top talent.

“Bonuses are typically paid out at the end of year and there’s always the concern about retention,” Ramsey said.

According to a 2014 Global Workforce Study from Willis Towers Watson, more than 25 percent of employees are at a high risk for turnover. And what’s worse, according to the research, is that more than 70 percent of those employees say they have to leave their current organizations to advance.

And while retention is a challenge for most organizations, it should be paid close attention to particularly toward the end of the year when most employees receive their bonuses.

So how do you ensure top talent won’t leave after their bonuses are paid out? Ramsey recommends taking the time to talk to employees about their career goals. The final quarter of the year should be spent having honest conversations with team members to ensure that they are in roles where their skills and qualifications meet the highest productivity standards of the business.

“Reward your highest performers, and not just financially: make sure they’re satisfied with their career trajectory, are happy with their management, and are otherwise feeling fulfilled with the day-to-day of their work,” Ramsey said. He also stressed the importance for employers to be flexible with people and pay close attention to their needs.

According to a Q4 2014 Employment Confidence Survey by Glassdoor, which surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults, 35 percent of employees are unsatisfied with their salary. What’s worse is that they’d be willing to leave their current roles because of it.

But it’s not all bad news.

According to 2015 Gallup research that surveyed 24,000 U.S. adults, employee performance can be improved upon and influenced by engagement and well-being. And that starts with leadership.

Leaders should recognize employees for achievements and milestones. For larger organizations, there should be ample communication disseminated from the top down to emphasize that senior leadership is involved with employees across all levels of the organization.

It’s leadership, too, that’s responsible for fostering company culture.

The end of the year is a great time to take care of company culture, Ramsey said. “Make sure your employees are feeling culturally rewarded and you’ll benefit from a lower turnover rate overall.”

From implementing physical wellness programs, to team outings and holiday parties, there are countless ways to improve company culture. It’s important to be mindful though that perks can only go so far. Leaders and managers should reflect the company’s culture and its core values. In other words, a great team environment and culture starts from the top.

Understanding the needs of your employees and cultivating a cooperative workplace culture that fosters growth are critical elements to improving employee retention and ensuring top talent doesn’t leave.