Culture: The Key to Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent

By Al Curnow, Senior Consultant 

In the May 2nd  issue of our blog, my colleague, Rob Wolff, wrote an important piece on the topic of Culture as a Strategic Initiative. Given some recently announced labor statistics, I wanted to take a deeper dive on one of the elements Rob had touched on in his piece—recruiting and retaining top talent.  The U.S. Department of Labor announced last month that the unemployment rate was now down to 3.6%!  This is the lowest level since 1962.  While you may have already been feeling the sting of a tight labor market, the screws have just been tightened.  We’re in historic territory now. The challenge of finding (and keeping) great people has never been more daunting and the stakes have never been higher.  So, what can you do about it?

Double Down On Your Culture

Now is time to focus on creating an extraordinary place to work.  We’ve previously discussed the variety of ways an organization benefits by establishing a great culture.   They create a competitive advantage their competitors simply can’t match and their people perform better.  Yet, it has tremendous impact on who we can hire and how long they’ll stay.  When you have an exceptional culture, you will draw talent to you.  One of our clients who became incredibly intentional in developing their culture once commented, “we became a cool place to work.” They went from being challenged to keep good people, to experiencing unprecedented retention rates (while paying at or below competitor’s wage scales).

The Power Of Intentionality

A critical part of building a great culture is to first be incredibly clear in defining the type of culture you want.  What are the specific behaviors you expect of your team members?   How are things done on your team? Once you’ve established that clarity, you can begin to put powerful measures in place that will significantly affect your hiring and retention efforts.  In an environment where we have fewer candidates, we need to make sure that we’re attracting the right candidates, while repelling those that aren’t a fit.  Once you’ve become intentional, you can begin to align your recruiting efforts with your culture.  You can design hiring strategies and develop interview questions that reflect the important elements of your very own culture (versus being pulled from a generic hiring manual).    

Keeping Our Team Members Longer

Team members want to stay with great organizations.  In fact, they’ll often sacrifice pay or other benefits to stay at a great place to work.  Of course, the opposite is also true. Higher pay or Friday happy hours are not necessarily going to keep your people around. An extraordinary work place that inspires, motivates, and encourages will help you retain your best people.

The Time Is Now

At some point, the current tight labor market will loosen.  When that will be, is anybody’s guess. It’s part of the ebbs and flows from an ever-changing economic system.  What won’t change is the need to hire the best people and to keep them for as long as possible.  Developing a great culture is the most important ingredient in doing so.  

If you’d like to learn more about developing an extraordinary place to work, just click the Let’s Connect box below.   You can also learn plenty from David Friedman’s book, Culture by Design, or by attending our annual Culture Summit.

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