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RECRUITING — Strategies for Attracting Star Employees

In these times of stock options and dot-com millionaires, it’s tough for smaller businesses to attract and retain top-quality staff.

After all, most people are drawn to the big money that only the commercial powerhouses can offer. And yet, there are a handful of smaller companies that are magnets for high-powered, super-motivated, hyper-productive workers. These companies have low staff turnover, the loyalty of their staff, and as a result, greater profits than they otherwise may have enjoyed.

What separates the great places to work from their mediocre counterparts? After speaking with many other human-resources professionals, it appears there are four areas in which a company must excel in order to attract and retain the best employees in the market.

First, employers must be in the same ballpark as their competitors in terms of compensation.

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They needn’t lead or match the market. But if they are going to lag the market, it cannot be by too great of a gap. Many people are willing to work for less money if they can do a job they love and feel they are part of a great organization.

The reality is that they still need to survive economically. One can’t walk into a supermarket and pay the grocery bill with job satisfaction.

– Connecting Staff To

Organization’s Mission

Another thing is, people must feel connected to the mission of the organization and understand how their work makes a difference in people’s lives.

Being at a not-for-profit organization, employees here clearly share some core values. But there are other companies that do not have particularly compelling or creative missions that are thriving. Headhunters may try to woo away their employees, but they’re not going anywhere because they feel they are part of something meaningful.

There was a recent story about an air conditioning parts manufacturer that had an excellent level of loyalty from employees. Is everyone enthralled by air conditioning parts? Pretty unlikely. But if you take one look at their employee newsletter, it is easy to see why people stay on board.

Most of the newsletter had nothing to do with business, but rather focused on the employee picnic, who had a new baby, who broke his leg skiing, etc. The message was loud and clear: “We are about people, not air conditioning parts.”

Does this mean it’s all play and no work at this company? Not by a long shot. They’re one of the leaders in their field.

– Show Appreciation

With Tangible Rewards

The third area gets a lot of lip service, but little practical application in the workplace. Companies absolutely must show their appreciation for staff with tangible rewards.

Company picnics, appreciation events and productivity incentives go a long way in building team loyalty. On a day-to-day basis, companies can demonstrate their commitment to staff by having fluid communication, including the opportunity for staff to provide feedback or air grievances.

Listening is the first step, but that is usually where most companies stop the dialogue. Acting is the most important component of the equation. Employees also feel committed to a company that is committed to them.

– Reap Returns When

Investing In People

The fourth area of importance in employee retention is staff development.

A company that is willing to invest in its people yields impressive returns. Colleagues often say their training programs help attract star performers who understand the importance of continuing education.

Providing an environment where growth is encouraged is key to cultivating a productive workplace. While every company would like to compete with the big boys of industry, there are many other ways a staff can be compensated. With creativity, commitment and sincere appreciation for how employees contribute to the overall success of an organization, a smaller company can compete , and win , the best and the brightest in today’s marketplace.

Bonner is the vice president of human resources at Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside counties.

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