As I referenced in my previous article on What Does Being An Employer of Choice Mean?, the U.S. unemployment rate is at a twenty-year low. With a booming economy companies are looking to increase workforce size to meet the demands of their growing businesses. From unskilled laborers to skilled laborers, and from managers to executives, recruiting employees to your business is more difficult than ever before. Despite the supply and demand challenges, some companies are thriving in this “employee economy”. Having struggled and overcome the “employee attraction and retention” issue, I wrote this article to help all companies to attract, recruit and retain employees today.
My Background Story
In 2002, I started a marketing company called SyncShow. For years hiring great people was easy, then things changed. Somewhere around 2014 we started having serious staffing issues. We started losing good people and found it harder and harder to attract and hire good people. After attending a seminar we discovered that we were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, per year, due to a lack of employees, under-performing employees and recruiting and training costs. SyncShow needed the best employees. The quality of our people is directly associated with the quality of our work and our ability to grow. This is when we stepped back and assessed our employee acquisition and retention strategy.
The Employee Acquisition & Retention Strategy
A common scenario… When hiring, most companies put advertisements on internet job boards, call a recruiter and wait for candidate resumes to come in. The employer then filters through the resumes and interviews the most qualified candidates from the pool of resumes. The employer will then hire the best of the pool. If your organization is not attractive to prospective candidates your pool of candidates is already limited to a lower quality from the start, hence your new hire will be mediocre at best. This is what we did at SyncShow and it was killing us.
Employers of choice attract the most talented and hardest working employees but it all starts with an employee acquisition and retention strategy.
We asked ourselves, “Why would a person want to work here?”.
Becoming an employer of choice and being attractive to the workforce does not happen by accident. In growing SyncShow, we used to really struggle with employee recruiting and retention. It was not until we stepped back and assessed our “attractiveness” that we began to turn the needle in a positive direction. We asked ourselves, “Why would a person want to work here?”. We then assessed each of the five key areas outlined below and started making radical improvements. This is when our employee acquisition & retention strategy began.
Five Key Elements To Being An Employer Of Choice
While each individual person has their own criteria of what makes the company they work for the right fit, there are five key areas that employers must focus on to make their organization attractive to a majority of prospective employees. These areas are:
- Benefits & Perks
- Career Pathing & Development
- Mission: The Why
The following are questions to help you start down the right path for being an employer of choice.
Your organization has a culture whether you have purposely designed it or not. If you have not purposely designed it, now is the time.
- What makes your culture special, unique or attractive to your employees?
- Do you have a written definition of what your culture stands for?
- What are your organization’s core values? Are they authentic and routinely followed?
Here are some great resources on building a great culture:
- Zappos Culture
- Harvard Business Review (my personal favorite)
2. Benefits & Perks
Studies show that not all employees are motivated by money. Your company benefits package and the perks you offer can make all the difference to your employees. At SyncShow we have a lot of employees that are growing their families. They value flexible work arrangements and work from home opportunities. Often times its the little things that make life easier that employees really care about.
One of the worst things you can do is to start adding random benefits and perks. We recommend you start by surveying your current employees. What do they want? Show that you are willing to listen and care about their interests. It will go a long way.
- Here is a good article to help you get started: 19 Awesome Employee Perks
3. Career Pathing & Development
If there is one thing I have learned about today’s younger workforce (35 and under) is that they want to be moving forward, constantly. We all hear the jokes about the recent college grad that wants to be president of the company in two years. While that may actually happen for a very small select few, the rest of your employees need to be guided down a path that clearly articulates where they are going and what they need to do to find their personal career objectives.
- Here is a good article from SHRM on Career Pathing Strategies
Over the years I have worked with hundreds of companies on their marketing strategies and many of them are seeking help to attract new business while also struggling to attract skilled employees. It’s not an uncommon scenario. There are many overlapping marketing strategies that help solve sales growth and employee attraction and retention issues. However, perhaps no single component has a greater impact on hiring success than the business environment, specifically, I am talking about the physical workplace.
The question employees ask themselves is “why do I want to work here?”.
Employers must take a moment to walk through their place of work through a visitor’s eyes. What do you see? We become so accustomed to our places of work that we don’t even see how poor the environment has become. I have been in many, many businesses and I have seen it all. Dead plants in the lobby. Broken and stained ceiling tiles. Old and broken desks and chairs. Poor lighting. Conference rooms filled with junk. Filthy and disgusting facilities.
I know I wouldn’t want to work in the types of environments listed above. Would you?
5. Mission: The Why
For many companies it is very difficult to define the corporate mission in a manner that resonates with the employee base. Whether your company makes widgets, sells services or is part of the supply chain, you must define your corporate mission in a way that employees can feel like they are part of it. They must care about the mission and understand their role in helping to achieve it.
Being an employer of choice takes time. It is something that is strategically designed, built and maintained. On your road to turning your organization into being an employer of choice, consider the five key areas above and incorporate them into your strategic plan.