Good employers attract the talent

good employers attract the talent

It’s a constant challenge for any employer – to attract and retain great employees. While the low unemployment level in New Zealand (currently 4.4% – the lowest in a decade) is great for the economy, it is making finding and retaining great staff a challenge across all industries.

Nelson, Tasman, Marlborough and West Coast has one of the lowest unemployment levels in the country at 3.6%. The lack of casual and seasonal workers for our primary industry sectors is a real issue when these workforces contribute critically to commercial success. The current skill-shortage sees many companies getting by with un-filled roles or experiencing a higher-than-normal turnover in a ‘job-seekers’ market.

The secret to attracting and retaining talent is understanding the factors that motivate employees. Employers who understand and deliver on these principles are the ones who will be the most successful when it comes to attracting and retaining good people.

What drives people to want to work?

This is an interesting question. Some people might answer with ‘I need the money’, or possibly ‘I need to keep myself occupied’. However, wanting to work is very different from needing to work. When the basic ‘needs’ of a job are covered (job + money), employees look for more to keep them happy in their roles.

If I ask myself what it is that drives me to keep on working, it is to:

  • fulfil a need to help other people
  • give back to the community
  • achieve satisfaction from believing that what I do is important
  • interact with people
  • practice and learn new skills, and
  • have a chance to prove myself capable (beyond changing nappies, building train sets, or cutting animal-shaped sandwiches).

According to Glassdoor Economic Research, culture and values, career opportunities and senior leadership are the most important factors leading to employee satisfaction at work. Benefits and perks are great at getting employees in the door, but they don’t keep employees satisfied with the company long-term.

People like to contribute to something worthwhile. They need their efforts to be acknowledged and to receive helpful feedback. They need the opportunity to pursue higher skill levels. These factors lead to employees gaining more responsibility and the belief that their work is important. Businesses should care about what motivates employees, for the simple reason that it greatly effects how a business operates. Motivated employees also become engaged employees.

The link between motivation and engagement

People who are engaged in their work perform better and are motivated to succeed. Engaged employees tend to be more productive, creative and committed to their employers. Annual Gallup engagement surveys point to engagement as the single biggest driver of a company’s profits.

Learning from the best – what makes a good employer?

I took a look at the American Fortune’s 2018 100 Best Companies to Work for list for what we can learn from successful companies.

Salesforce is number 1 on this list. They are dedicated to mindfulness and philanthropy. It pays a ‘finders fee’ to employees who refer new hires and pays employees 56 hours per year to volunteer in their community.

Wegmans Food Markets is number 2 on the list. The century-old grocery chain fills over half of its positions internally. Staff feel they are contributing to Wegmans’ mission of “helping people live healthier, better lives through food.” The chain also gives a substantial amount of food to feed the hungry.

Ultimate Software is number 3. Ultimate’s core philosophy is ‘people first’ and it matches employees contributions to charities at 40%.

These companies realise that their employees value more than just a good salary.

Greg Smith, international business consultant, keynote speaker and author suggests recognition and incentive programmes are key. “People are more committed and engaged when they can contribute their ideas and suggestions. This gives them a sense of ownership.” He also states that “skilled people will not remain in a job if they see no future in their position.”

Tony Delmercado, COO of Hawke Media suggests autonomy and flexibility are key too. “Top performers love to work and they don’t measure success by how many hours they clock.” He reasons that it doesn’t matter where they work because they care. He also said it is important to be a ‘cool’ company. “If your company does something meaningful or novel, you will become a magnet for those truly talented people you seek.”
Is your company standing up for something that your employees value and is this proclaimed loud enough?

The manager’s role

If you have ever struggled with the leadership of your organisation, or your direct supervisor, then you’ll understand the popular saying ‘people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers‘. Properly trained managers have a crucial role to play in attracting and keeping great team members.

Leadership has a responsibility to:

  • Ensure the company’s leaders use integrity and uphold company values
  • Provide a clear company structure to show career growth pathways to employees
  • Promote the ‘why’ behind the company and why it contributes to a greater cause
  • Ensure there is creative thinking involved the role
  • Be an organisation that gives back to your community
  • Give employees the autonomy to solve problems
  • Allow employees time to contribute to innovation
  • Allocate resources for professional development
  • Give recognition and reward – both intrinsic (feedback, purposeful work, responsibility) and extrinsic (public recognition, bonuses, etc)
  • Be a team-orientated company in everything.

Interestingly, these ten points are Forbes Top 10 list of actions for attracting and retaining great talent.

I also like how the PRIDE process sums up creating the best chance to retain happy employees:

P – Provide a positive working environment
R – Recognize, reward and reinforce the right behavior
I – Involve and engage
D – Develop skills and potential
E – Evaluate and measure

To attract and retain great talent, employers need to offer fair or above-the-market-value wages and understand what drives people to want to work. If we are happy at work it greatly affects our overall happiness in life.

Written by Chantell Bramley

References: [PRIDE process]

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