The U.S. Labor Department recently announced that the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 1969. If you do the math, that’s nearly five decades! To put things in perspective, that was also the year man first walked on the moon. The U.S. added 134,000 jobs in the month of September alone, and companies like Amazon made headlines with news of increasing minimum wage. From an employee point of view, this is all encouraging news. People have options, and good people are in high-demand. As an employer though, it means you need to take a long, hard look at what you are doing to retain and recruit top talent.
Successful companies don’t leave this to chance. Instead, they have long-term strategies in place that:
- Define their purpose and brand. Who is your company, and what do you stand for? Make sure you’ve clearly articulated who you are and what you believe in, and that your mission and values are aligned with it. Just as a strong brand is critical in building consumer loyalty, it also plays an essential role in recruiting and retention. People want to buy from and work for companies with a purpose-driven business strategy.
- Tell their story. Storytelling is the oldest form of communication. Think about the strongest brands and companies – brands like Apple, Google and Coca-Cola. They are successful because people believe in them, and they believe in them because they’re emotionally connected to them. That happens through storytelling, and it’s as true for employer/employee relationships as it is for consumers.
- Design their employee experience. My colleague Mark Brown wrote a great Buzz Bin post a couple weeks ago titled Employee Experience: A Design Challenge. If you haven’t given it a read, it’s well-worth your time! It’s a topic we’ve talked about a lot lately, and one that makes a ton of sense. So many times, companies focus on how they bring the brand to life externally, but not necessarily how it’s brought to life through the employee experience. Think about your employees’ environment, the way they work day-to-day, and their opportunities for growth. Is it an experience by design, or one left to chance?
- Think outside the paycheck. No doubt, salary is important and must be competitive in today’s labor market. But, there are other factors that should be considered in order to compete for the best of the best – and it starts with understanding your prospective employees. Understand, in general terms, the type of employee you are targeting, both by generation and career stage, and what’s important to them. Is it flexibility, telecommuting or the opportunity for paid time off to volunteer? Compensation is more than a paycheck. Understand what your employees and prospective hires want, and be willing to adapt your ways, within reason.
Lastly, and this should go without saying, but successful companies treat people as they want to be treated. Understand what motivates your employees. Ask for and respect their opinions. Talk about growth opportunities and career aspirations. And above all else, cultivate an environment of respect throughout your organization.
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