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How to attract and retain top talent

attract and retain top talent

Good help is hard to find, and maybe even harder to keep. Try these strategies to attract and retain top talent at your organization.

Finding and keeping top talent can be a struggle, even for the best companies. And if you don’t have good people, you don’t have a good company.

It’s a competitive landscape out there and it’s important to know exactly what you have to offer and how to convey that message.

Here are 13 ways to find and keep the best and the brightest to your organization.

How to attract and retain top talent

1. Pay what your employees are worth

People love to say that there are things more important than money to employees, and this is probably true, to a degree. It’s also true that you get what you pay for, and that top talent should be making competitive salaries. Don’t try to underpay people and then wonder why the best people don’t want to work for you.

2. Be realistic and keep your feet on the ground

It’s common these days to see jobs classed as “entry level” and asking for things like a “a ‘minimum’ of five years’ experience and expertise.” Or to see one job that clearly should be three jobs, with completely unrelated qualifications and responsibilities, rolled into one. This is an obvious attempt to save money and get more for less. Don’t do it. Five years of experience is not “entry level” and your receptionist should not also be expected to design your website and handle your digital marketing. These are different jobs for different people.

3. Be respectful during the recruitment and hiring process

Be kind to, and respectful of, all your applicants during the hiring process – not just the ones you hire. Don’t stand them up and, for Pete’s sake, don’t ghost them. Ghosting is rampant and wildly rude and it needs to stop. If you interview someone and do not hire them, pay them the courtesy of letting them know they didn’t get the job. The people you don’t hire are going to talk about your company and you want them to say good things, even if they don’t work for you.

4. Provide a proper benefits package

Some benefits are mandatory in Canada, including a minimum amount of paid time off, sick leave, Canadian Pension Plan contributions, and Employment Insurance contributions. That’s the least that an employee can expect. Figure out how you can go beyond the minimum. Dental coverage (should be a no brainer), vision care, life insurance, and prescription drugs are obvious options and are offered by many companies and considered standard. You can offer more paid time off, spending accounts, employee assistance programs, and more.

5. Think of the perks

Though they get lumped into the same category, benefits and perks are considered different things. Benefits are non-wage compensation that supplements a worker’s salary, while perks are extra rewards or incentives outside of salary and non-wage compensation. When it comes to perks, be thoughtful. Ideas for great perks include office snacks, gym memberships, equity or stock options, paid education, employee discounts, performance bonuses, paid time off to volunteer, and pet insurance. Some perks can cost little and still be very appealing.

6. Be flexible

Speaking of perks, this one deserves its own section: be flexible with your work hours and location. Times have changed and most people expect this. The 40-hour week and the 9-5 day are over. Particularly since the pandemic, people have become accustomed to working remotely, often on their own schedules, and employers can no longer claim that our jobs can’t be done from home. Unless there is an absolute requirement for onsite scheduling, like with healthcare, forget it. As long as the work gets done well and on time, what do you care where and when it gets done?

7. Focus on your employer brand

Your employer brand is what candidates think of when they consider joining your team – it’s the reason they would prefer to work for your company over the competition. It’s your employer value proposition. What makes your organization stand out? Why are you a great workplace, and what do you offer new hires? Figure this out and define it. Also, focus on how the work you do is meaningful. It’s important to potential employees to see how their work can impact the world around them.

8. Develop your company culture

Your company culture defines the proper way to behave within the organization, according to SHRM. “This culture consists of shared beliefs and values established by leaders and then communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping employee perceptions, behaviors and understanding. Organizational culture sets the context for everything an enterprise does. Because industries and situations vary significantly, there is not a one-size-fits-all culture template that meets the needs of all organizations.” Strong culture is a common denominator among successful companies. Define your mission and values and cultural priorities, then create a workplace around them.

9. Get active on social media

Blast your message on your social media channels and let people know what a great place yours is to work. Get customers and existing team members to share their testimonials and post regularly to get the word out. Craft your online image to suit what you want to convey.

10. Focus on diversity

There’s no excuse for a lack of diversity in hiring these days, and yet more than 50% of Canadians see discrimination in the workplace. A lack of diversity will also send candidates running. One survey found that 42% would reject a job offer if the company lacked diversity or clear goals to improve diversity in hiring. Also, millennials and Generation X put a higher value on workplace diversity than other generations. Millennials are also likely to remain nearly twice as long than their average of 2.8 years with a company that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion.

11. Offer referral incentives

Offer incentives to your existing team to bring in their talented friends. One company I work with offers employees $250 upon hiring the referred candidate, another $250 thirty days after the end of the probation period, and another $500 on the one-year anniversary of the hire, for a total of a $1,000 referral incentive.

12. Offer opportunities for advancement

Opportunities for advancement are a top priority for job seekers and yet many companies don’t think about this. In fact, a vast majority of workers will have to leave a current company in order to move up the ladder while a majority of companies will look for an outside hire rather than promote from within. What’s wrong with this picture should be obvious. Nobody wants to stay in the same role forever. If you want to keep your employees, be prepared to promote them.

13. Make your workplace a great place to work

If you want people to want to work for you, make your workplace a wonderful place to work. Be kind, be thoughtful, nurture your talent, model the behaviour you want to see, offer competitive pay and benefits, be creative, be fun, show how the work you do matters and how your team members are a part of this. If your employees love working for you, they’ll tell their talented friends, and those friends will want to work for you. If they don’t love it, they’ll also tell their friends. That’s how it works.

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