A recent survey by my partners at Korn Ferry found that
"Highly Skilled Professionals Are Motivated More by Recognition and Meaningful Work than by Pay"
In short: the backbone-of-your-company people will leave you if you don't recognize the value of their expertise. They will choose another company over yours if they offer meaningful work, not higher compensation.
A Korn Ferry survey found that 68% of respondents said that the top reason highly skilled professionals would choose one employer over another is the promise of meaningful work. Only 4% said better compensation is the top reason these professionals would choose one employer over another. When asked why highly skilled professionals would leave an organization, 53% said the top reason would be a lack of their organization’s willingness to recognize the value of their expertise. “All too often, employers don’t see the true value of highly skilled employees until they leave, at times taking with them the knowledge and intellectual property that makes the organization successful,” said Hill. “To retain members of this group, employers should offer them opportunities to continue to learn, to gain recognition by sharing their expertise across the organization and resist micromanaging their day-to-day efforts.”