Eight Tips to Attract and Retain Top Talent
The best human resources strategy that a company can have in 2024 is to keep the employees it has and create a work environment they like so much that they encourage others to work there, too. Methods for creating a great company culture, retaining employees, and improving recruiting are possible to implement for even the smallest companies. Here are eight strategies for building company culture, retaining employees, and enhancing recruitment.
1. Inspire Your Team
The newest generation of workers want bosses who inspire them. Simply being a good businessperson is not enough to win the hearts and minds of employees. Instead, younger millennials and Generation Z want leaders who are good — maybe even great — communicators and deliver a message that makes them feel they are part of a team that is working for a company that does good for them, their community, and society. A dusty MBA may not be enough to prepare owners and executives for a role that is as much a coach as it is a company leader.
How can a company leader be inspiring? An extreme example can be found in a Premier League soccer coach, Ange Postecoglou, who is the new manager for the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in London. Postecoglou is famous for inspiring his teams over the years with an open communication style and making them feel like stakeholders in the team’s success.
One of the veteran stars on his current team, Son Heung-min, stated: “It’s crazy, actually, the way he speaks … the way he talks is fantastic as a human being, as a coach, it’s nothing more than that. ... The way he speaks, I feel like my heart is bouncing. I just want to go out and play for him and play for the club. It feels like he’s just part of my family.”
While not everyone is cut out to be as inspirational as Postecoglou, keeping in mind that speaking forthrightly and honestly with employees about goals and aspirations can make your team want to “go out and play” for you.
2. Pay Fair and Competitive Wages
A fundamental truth is that wages reflect the value a company places on its employees. It also sends a message about financial stability. Everyone wants to work for a company that values them, and that appears to be solvent and stable. In addition, people want to maximize their earning potential, so it is essential that wages be within a reasonable margin of what other companies — the competitors for the workforce — are paying for similar positions, whether it’s skilled labor, sales, office staff, or management. Companies do not need to be the highest paying in the category, but most certainly cannot pay on the low end of the range and expect to recruit or retain workers.
3. Provide a Career Pathway Within the Company
Workers want to know that they can grow within a company, which will improve their skills, their wages, and their ability to stay interested in their work over a longer term. In addition, creating a career pathway shows that the company is investing in its employees and values their contributions. Create career development plans for all employees.
4. Use Flexible Scheduling Whenever Possible
When manufacturing shift schedules were created, society looked completely different than it does now.
However, some of those old shift schedules still exist. Schedules are complicated for everyone, balancing the demands of work with the desire to have a full life outside of work. In households with children, the demands of meeting responsibilities and obligations for their schedules and well-being increase the complexity of an employee’s life exponentially. Consider meeting with your production team to address these issues.
Get input about shift start times and consider whether four 10-hour production days can meet the needs of your customers. Two five-hour shifts may help recruit and retain people who are balancing caregiving with work and provide options for hiring more part-time employees. Four days of 10-hour shifts will allow all overtime to be scheduled on the fifth workday.
For instance, a Monday through Friday schedule could be 10 hours Monday through Thursday, with any overtime scheduled for Friday.
This frees up the weekends and avoids scrambling for caregiving coverage in the event of required overtime.
5. Build Trust Through Transparency
Over the years, and emphasized by several recent conversations with company owners, it has become clear that educating and involving employees in running the business leads to significant improvements in productivity and profitability.
Specifically, owners who have created employee stock ownership plans (ESOPS) have told me about what a dramatic difference this has had on the business and their own lives. Productivity increases, turnover decreases, profitability goes way up, and owners don’t have to work as long or as hard to keep the business going and growing. Profit-sharing plans can have the same effect. Even without ESOPs or PSPs, owners who teach employees the fundamentals about running the business find that this level of transparency builds trust and creates a team approach to meeting goals.
Employees who have never had exposure to front-office issues may not understand the costs associated with the business, particularly those linked to employee costs such as Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), benefits, and retirement contributions. In addition, the cost of goods, waste, facility costs, and other overhead is generally unknown to employees. When employees understand costs, they understand the importance of keeping them down. That understanding, along with linking profitability to wages, bonuses, and profit-sharing plans will create a common goal and an understanding that running a business is not an “us versus them” scenario.
In addition, Gen Z has started entering the workforce and will be the majority of our incoming employees in this hiring era. Because Gen Z has come of age as the first digital natives, and have lived through a global pandemic and significant economic uncertainty early in their lives, they are a generation that is experiencing an unprecedented level of anxiety and other mental health challenges. As a generation, they have a distrust of institutions, and due to their proficiency with access to information, they want, and expect, to know all about the organizations with which they associate. That means companies recruiting and employing Gen Z need a communication plan that provides access to critical information about the business.
6. Provide Top-Notch Benefits
The most important benefit for decades has been health insurance. Soaring health care costs means that people want good insurance options. Offer your employees a choice of insurance plans so that they can have their insurance meet their needs. Contribute as much as possible to the insurance premiums and offer a stipend to the employees who get their insurance from their spouse or other source.
Don’t stop at insurance, though. Provide an array of benefits including wellness, mental health care, pet care, student loan assistance, tuition assistance, employer-assisted housing benefits, and transportation-assistance benefits. Consider benefits of time, including a paid “sabbatical” after reaching a 10-year employment anniversary.
If budget allows, offer childcare assistance or an uncommon but much-appreciated benefit, offer on-site childcare. While that is a costly and potentially complicated arrangement, it may attract many job candidates who would work but for the cost of childcare.
Offer retirement plans, even if the company’s contribution is minimal. These are seen as investments in an employee’s future and a sign of company stability.
7. Recognize Employee Excellence and Milestones
Employee recognition is an often overlooked, yet critical, element of building a welcoming and rewarding company culture. Recognizing employees celebrates deserving people. It can inspire and motivate not only the person being recognized, but also co-workers. This communicates to employees that they are seen, valued, and critical. Employee recognition should be public, so that the person receiving recognition feels appreciation from management, but also from co-workers. Consider announcing milestones and recognition events on the company website, in whatever method of communication is used for announcements (bulletin boards, newsletters, etc.) and on a display in the facility.
8. Create Company Mission and Values Statements — and Live by Them
The ethics of a company matter more to Gen Z than any other generation. When making decisions about working for a company, Gen Z will consider the company’s stated values, social impact, and ethical practices. More than 75% of Gen Z employees say they want to work for companies that align with their personal values and ethics. This means making statements about sustainability, diversity, inclusion, environmental stewardship, and human rights impact, and making sure their practices follow their mission and values statements, even if it costs the company more to do it.
It might seem daunting to implement all eight strategies, but chances are that companies are already doing many of these in their employee practices. Creating a great company culture leads to retaining employees and more success with recruiting.
This approach creates stability and opportunities for short- and long-term growth, and is worth the investment of time and resources to make these strategies a reality.
Adriane Harrison is vice president of human relations consulting at PRINTING United Alliance. Information about recruitment and retention strategies, as well as a wide variety of labor and employment HR support, available to Alliance members, can be found at printing.org. Learn more about additional Alliance benefits by contacting email@example.com/888-385-3588.
Adriane Harrison is Vice President, Human Relations Consulting at PRINTING United Alliance. Adriane assists members with a wide variety of HR matters involving statutes, regulations, policies, procedures, culture, and staffing, as well as the gamut of day-to-day HR issues. In addition, she supports professional development by conducting webinars, participating in panel discussions, and speaking at industry events on human resources issues. Currently, Adriane is the Chairperson of the Graphic Communications Workforce Coalition, a member of the Women in Print Alliance, and a founder of the Women’s Print Mentoring Network.
Adriane received a journalism degree from the University of Illinois and a law degree from DePaul University in Chicago. As an attorney, Adriane practiced in both the public and private sectors. Her work was in the areas of Constitutional, commercial, securities, and criminal law. Adriane and her family live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.