How To Differentiate Your Company To Win Talent

Amy McCloskey Tobin

Traditional companies have felt the heat from the more sexy tech world with all of the unique fringe benefits Silicon Valley uses to draw top talent in. Millennials, in particular, have different expectations of benefits and work culture. As the job market heats up, you’ll need everything you can muster to compete. But don’t think every stellar employee wants ping pong tables and sushi lunches – traditional companies can compete with more glamorous companies if they know what employees really want.

Trust. It must be earned, and it is reciprocal – never a one way street.

Only 38 percent of employees trust their managers, according to research by Interaction Associates, a workplace performance improvement firm. That distrust is growing, with 25 percent of those surveyed saying that they trusted their bosses less than this time last year.  

The same suspicion is not there when it comes to co-workers, with 54 percent saying they felt safe expressing their idea among colleagues. Employers need to take heed if they want to attract top talent because 82 percent of those surveyed say that trusting their boss is crucial to their ability to perform well at work.

How do you show candidates that trust is part of your work culture? Interaction Associates had suggestions for how you can build trust:

  • Ask for employee input into decisions that impact them.
  • Be transparent with employees so that they understand your decision-making process.
  • Provide professional development and training for staff.
  • Create a culture where people are not punished for admitting mistakes, including the boss.
  • Create an open environment where traditional ways of thinking and doing things can be challenged.
  • In interviews with new candidates, make it clear that trust is central to your culture, and invite them to talk to current employees about that culture.
  • Ensure that employees feel empowered to be open with candidates.

Don’t Make Overworking Part of Your Work Culture

In the competitive startup world, 18 hour days and sleep deprivation are seen as badges of courage. Not only is the concept of “working insane hours makes me a genius” a fallacy, most workers don’t want that out of life. Science has proven sleep deprivation lessen the brain’s ability to function well, and even highly driven people want to spend time recharging and enjoying their families and friends.

This doesn’t mean that you create a slacker environment, but that you have fair expectations and allow people to live. There are ways you can create schedules that allow work remotely when necessary that employees will be grateful for. Grateful employees are giving employees, and they’ll work harder for you out of respect for you accommodating their lives. This remote-work option will be something top candidates are looking for.

Create Opportunities to Grow

The best talent out there has no desire to stand still. They’re looking for employers who provide professional and personal growth opportunities. What they’re looking for from you is a compelling vision of what their future will look like if they become part of your organization.

They’ll be looking for programs within your organizations that help them envision a pathway to personal skill growth. What they’ll want, especially, is a manager or team who can coach them along their path. Mentoring programs can create coaching at scale, and are a benefit many younger, future superstar employees are looking for.

Employees Are Looking for Empowerment

You are not the last employer your candidate will ever have. The days of staying with one company for an entire career are long gone, and employees see themselves as free agents rather than rungs in a corporate ladder. Many of them will have taken on side hustles or freelanced full time, and the taste of autonomy does not fade.

Remote work and flexible schedules are a plus, but today’s top talent wants input on their work, and the ability to decide with their manager rather than be dictated to by her.

Be a Company They’re Proud to Work For

The Socially Conscious movement was not a fad, and younger workers, in particular, want to work for a company that contributes positively to their community and the world at large. And they’re looking for more than a yearly donation to a local charity. Millennials are looking to be part of something greater than themselves, and they want to be part of your social initiative – they want it to be core to who your company is.

Create a Positive Work Culture

Top talent can always be attracted by a premium pay rate, but people want to be happy at work. And it doesn’t take long to detect a less than enjoyable work culture. Much of it has to do with the way managers treat employees, and whether their staff feels cared about, appreciated and respected. That all trickles down from the top, and when it does, it trickles up, too.

The latest jobs report left no doubt that our economy is continuing to grow, and with that growth comes an increasingly difficult hiring market. At long last, it is becoming an employee’s market, and as we grow companies need to use every tool they have to attract the best on the market.

Contributing Author

Amy McCloskey Tobin is a sales professional, writer, and content strategist. She writes on sales, small business, diversity,k generational insights, and leadership.

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