Companies employ a mix of perks, compensation schemes and initiatives to keep them from straying. (Mark Airs)

As the economic recovery lurches forward, the nation’s job market is loosening up, offering new opportunities for professionals looking to move on. To combat the outflow of talent, each of the region’s Top Workplaces has devised its own mix of perks, compensation schemes and workplace initiatives to keep its best people in place.

Here’s how four of the large companies on our list are working to keep their best people from jumping ship:

1 Capital One: Training the ranks to go digital

Capital One Financial has made technology a priority for years but still finds itself awkwardly caught between two industries.

“We’re attempting to play in a totally different arena. We’re a financial services company, but we also want to be a great technology and digital company,” said Joel Martinez, the company’s managing vice president of enterprise services and staff. “The downside to that is, we’re competing with some of the most dynamic companies out there. My nightmares when I wake up in a cold sweat are when everybody’s migrating out to the West,” Martinez said.

Capital One executives said they make a point of training employees for higher roles in technology. The company’s online Digital 101 program rates employees’ digital fluency through an online quiz that is used to place them in training programs while giving them a yardstick for success. And a new partnership with the online coding academy Udacity gives nontechnically minded workers a shot at computer programming.

2 CoStar Group: Promoting up the chain

At CoStar — a commercial real estate information company with about 1,000 employees spread across three D.C.-area offices — career mobility is modeled from the top. Most of the company’s executives are long-term employees whose careers progressed with the growth of the company.

“The most important thing for our people is career opportunity,” said Donna Tanenbaum, the company’s vice president for human resources. “Our employees want to know ‘once I’m in this job, where can I go next?’ ”

To keep the pipeline fluid, the company provides industry training opportunities and offers tuition reimbursements for those seeking an extra degree. It also offers a combination of on-the-job training and coaching.

Donna Tanenbaum, the company’s vice president for human resources, said the company’s pay structure is designed to encourage internal mobility. While the average Washingtonian saw an average pay increase of just 3 percent last year, Tanenbaum said CoStar employees receive a 5 to 10 percent raise when they advance one level in the company’s hierarchy, which a motivated employee can accomplish in less than a year.

3 Keller Williams Capital Properties: Giving employees a voice

Real estate agents often feel that it’s easy to enter the profession but tough to succeed in it. Except for a basic test, there’s no educational prerequisite to be a real estate agent. Everyone has to start at square one and learn the ropes through experience.

As a result, those with a knack for the business often find themselves courted heavily by competing companies. “Real estate firms are extremely adept at actively pulling your people out of your organization and into other organizations,” said Brandon Green, managing partner at Keller Williams Capital Partners, a real estate company. “We have to be on top of our game 100 percent every day because the opportunity for someone to slip out is very easy.”

Despite those challenges, Keller Williams maintains a 90 percent retention rate, which company officials say is well above the industry norm.

Keller Williams executives said they pull it off by finding ways to give employees a stake in the company. Each office in the D.C. area has its own “agent leadership council,” open to real estate agents in the top 20th percentile for houses sold. The councils function like advisory boards; the company opens its books to employees, and the councils can make recommendations to upper management about financial matters. They don’t have the hiring and firing authority of a board of directors, but chief executive Bo Menkiti said most of the on-the-ground decisions about the company’s direction are made by one of these councils.

Keller Williams also designs financial incentives to keep people around and make them feel like they have a stake in success, giving the rank and file about half the company’s profits each quarter.

4 Cvent: Building retention into the hiring process

Executives at Cvent, a McLean-based event-management software company, say retention starts during the job interview.

The company makes job interviewing a two-day process during which candidates meet not only with the hiring manager but also with six to eight other individuals with assorted roles throughout the company. Then everyone sends comments to the hiring manager about whether the employee is a cultural fit.

“We have a long-term focus,” said Eric Eden, Cvent’s senior vice president of marketing. “It doesn’t make sense for someone to come in, spend a year learning how everything works, and then leave.”

Once you’re in the door, stock options sweeten the deal. Cvent makes everyone, even entry-level associates, shareholders in the company, and stock options expand as an employee rises through the ranks.

Eden said those who stick around sometimes see a 20 or 30 percent increase in their total monetary compensation as a result of the equity, and having a financial stake in the firm’s success gives them an extra reason to care. “People want to work somewhere they feel empowered. They want to work and grow within a company,” he said. “If they don’t have opportunities for growth, they’ll look somewhere else.”

Five largest workplaces

These companies have the most local employees among The Washington Post’s Top Workplaces.

Employees
CACI 6,723
Capital One 4,779
MITRE 3,713
Erickson Living 3,038
Comcast 2,979

Source: Workplace DynamicsTHE WASHINGTON POST