How to win today’s battle for talent

Finding good people is harder than ever. Here are five ways to recruit and retain the best.

Employee engagement

Attracting and retaining top talent is a major concern for every organization.

According to the Worldcom Confidence Index 2018, a recent global survey of high-level executives conducted by Worldcom Public Relations Group, 47 percent of U.S. CEOs see a lack of talent as the biggest threat to their future plans, and only 6 percent identified the available talent pool as a source of optimism.

Make employee engagement a priority

While we are enjoying a historically low unemployment rate, the flipside of that good economic news is that we are in a period of too many jobs and not enough workers, especially qualified workers.

As a consequence, 2018 is shaping up to be the Year of the Employee, with CEOs identifying employees as their second most important target audience—right after customers—and 20 percent of top executives putting employees first.

Meaningfully engaging employees pays big dividends. Gallup reports that organizations in the top quartile of employee engagement reap 10 percent higher customer metrics, 17 percent higher productivity, 20 percent higher sales and 21 percent higher profitability. Plus, they’re more likely to attract talent in the first place.

Engagement means moving away from a top-down management structure and actively involving employees in defining and creating your culture. Here’s an example of how younger professionals help define the culture at our firm, Sachs Media Group:

Innovative efforts to attract talent

Here in Florida’s capital, the Talent Lives Here initiative aims to convert the great young talent produced by our universities into workers who put down roots in Tallahassee, and we’ve been enthusiastic participants in the Tally Chamber Job Hop to support that effort. Statewide, the Florida Chamber Foundation’s upcoming Learners to Earners Summit is stoking a broad conversation about how to meet Florida’s talent needs, given that 85 percent of all jobs in 2030 could be in industries or occupations that do not exist today.

How can you, as an employer, better compete for top talent and retain the talent you already have?

Five ways to compete for and retain top talent

  1. Enhance your brand. Employees, especially younger employees, want to work for organizations that have a great reputation and an attractive culture. It’s never been more important to boost awareness of your brand’s strongest assets and to be a values-driven organization that knows what it stands for and lives by those values.
  2. Rally around your purpose. Millennials in particular want to know the purpose of the organization they work for and how their work fits in to make a difference. Be clear about why your work matters, and provide regular and individualized feedback to staff about how they meaningfully fit into the larger purpose.
  3. Offer a seat at the table. As David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, notes, millennials are the first generation that grew up sitting at the “adult table.” They aren’t prepared to wait to be an influence. Consciously create an employee engagement program that involves employees of every age in bubbling up ideas to make your organization stronger. The plurality of perspectives will make you a better organization and more attractive to young, in-demand talent.
  4. Embrace diversity. People want to work for organizations that, at least in part, look like them. As a communications firm, we know that we need a team that understands and mirrors the diverse audiences we are speaking to. Every firm, no matter its purpose, benefits from consciously building a diverse team, especially if it hopes to win in the talent hunt.
  5. Be family-friendly. Millennials are generally marrying and having children later,  but Coletto notes that millennial households are more consensual, collaborative and equal, with more women earning graduate degrees and being the primary breadwinners—and 42 percent of men serving as their family’s primary cooks. Look for millennial talent to drive further change in the workplace, insisting on flexibility and family-friendly policies.

The race for finding and retaining top talent is on. Employers who hope to compete successfully for younger employees will have to learn what consumer brands have already discovered: Give them what they want.

Michelle Ubben is president of Sachs Media Group.

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