How to Attract and Retain Top Talent

It’s true in most endeavors (and business is no exception), you’re only as good as the people you put around you. But, finding top talent and keeping them is no easy feat, especially now as the labor market is tightening and unemployment has hit its lowest level in almost two decades.

So, how do high performing companies get great people and keep them? Naturally, compensation, benefits, perks, and other material rewards like plush workspaces matter, but cultural issues are taking growing precedence in the hiring process.

Here are the key things you can do to build a brand culture that attracts and retains top talent.

Recognize Their Value

Talent acquisition is a resource intensive activity. It takes time and money to search for and view new candidates, train new hires, and enlist recruiters.  So, you want to be sure that you’re doing everything you can to attract the right candidates.

Once you do make a good hire, keep in mind that high employee turnover is costly too. Studies have shown that replacing an employee can cost 50% of that position’s annual salary, and even more when you count indirect costs. Worse, it results in reduced overall morale, which negatively affects productivity. Therefore, you want to be sure you keep the talent you hire.

Companies with happy employees have an ingrown team of brand ambassadors, spreading the message to others that this place values and rewards hard work and dedication. That not only helps bring in new talent, it actually makes companies more attractive to their customers, clients, and even vendors.

By instituting policies that encourage recognition and professional development, you’ll build a culture where employees want to achieve more for themselves and for your brand.

Start Strong

Perhaps the most important time to instill your values are during the orientation and onboarding process. First impressions form quickly and solidify. 90% of employees decide whether to stay or leave an organization in the first six months.

The company’s culture should be welcoming and quickly integrate new hires. Most organizations devote at least the first month to the onboarding process, but some use as little as a day or a week to bring new hires up to speed on the company’s practices and their new role.

More and more, workplaces are seeing the benefits of going further with the process, and with good reason: extended onboarding has been shown to increase new hire retention by as much as 25%.

Onboarding shouldn’t be thought of as a training wheels situation where green employees are given limited roles, but rather an opportunity for them to access as much support and information as they need to shine in their new position.

Shape Leadership That Listens

Millennial employees in particular are making their desire for more than just a paycheck loudly heard. What they are clamoring for is an opportunity to grow and gain mastery in a place that respects and understands them.

People have diverse needs. Desirable employers understand that fact and foster an environment that is accepting of employee individuality and willing to provide constant feedback and encouragement to help everyone grow according to their individual goals and motivations.  Also, it’s no secret that the curtain has been pulled back on corporate activity today. Every company is just a few Glassdoor reviews away from badly tarnishing its brand. You want to be sure you hear any potentially negative concerns and can address them before they permanently find their way to the internet.

By always listening, you can help your employees thrive by actively removing or mitigating any potential obstacles to their success, as well as your own.

Let Them Share in the Purpose

Autonomy, and an understanding of the underlying mission breeds satisfied, engaged employees. That is best accomplished by giving people a chance to develop solutions on their own before stepping in and telling them precisely how something should be done.

Those who are lucky enough to work in a creative field have it a bit easier than most in this regard. It can be hard to feel engaged in mundane, routine work. Work that involves creative thinking, by contrast, is almost never routine. It involves coming up with a constant stream of solutions and ideas, which can be intellectually taxing, but is rarely boring and fosters strongly engaged employees. Whatever field you’re in, let your employees use their imagination to find solutions.

Top talent, the type that will help your brand grow, will never be satisfied simply executing on your plans. They will want to be part of the process for solving problems.

Equally important, is to always let them know the whys of a project. Such as, why are we doing this, and why is it important that it be done to the highest standard. Always communicate.

Win as a Team

A few years back, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings stoked some controversy when he said he prefers to think of his company as a team rather than a family.

It’s true that an effective workplace group can have a lot of the characteristics of a family such as a strong sense of allegiance and belonging. But, the team analogy is stronger still because it implies a shared mission. Families can tend to behave in ways that don’t work in professional environments. Winning teams pull together for a common purpose and act and communicate in a way that respects personal boundaries and ultimately, drives toward successful endeavors.

As Hastings put it: “Teams win when their individual members trust each other enough to prioritize team success over individual glory.”

It’s an amazing feeling when everyone on a team, whether on a sports field or in the office, is pulling in the same direction. You can accomplish amazing things and it makes for fulfilled and gratified performers, which only begets more successes down the road.

A strong brand culture is imperative to the success of finding and retaining quality employees and since your employees are the lifeline to your customers, you have to give as much attention to how your brand is perceived by your internal audience as well as your external audience. Brand value is built on both fronts.