While Google, In-N-Out Burger, Nestle Purina PetCare don’t appear to have much in common, they do share at least one characteristic. All are recognized as some of the top companies at which to work. While you might not have as many employees as Google, you do have a responsibility to make your organization a great place to work regardless of size.
A great workplace culture is key for hiring and retaining top performers as well as your company’s overall success. However, when you compare your business with billion-dollar companies like Google or The Boston Consulting Group, it is easy to wonder, “How can I afford to create a great workplace culture?” But keep in mind that while money is important, many of today’s top performers—and Millennials especially—are looking for more than a paycheck. So while nap pods, paid sabbaticals, and catered meals might not be realistic, there are some cost-effective points to consider to make your business the best it can be.
Key point 1: What is your company culture? Company culture is both a feeling and a focus. Happy hours, birthday parties, baby showers, and even a company softball team, might not seem like revolutionary ideas. But when it comes to building a strong company culture, they work. In fact, Google, with all of its perks, still employs these techniques to help create a feeling of fun in their company. Since work takes up so much of an employee’s life, the atmosphere you create and sustain plays a significant role in whether or not a top performer wants to join your organization. Top talent must be engaged if you want them to keep working for your company.
Key point 2: How well do you communicate? Attracting and retaining top performers requires the ability and willingness to articulate the importance of working as a team as well as providing timely feedback and frequent recognition for a job well done. Twitter’s employees hail the social media giant for their transparent communication on important business decisions all while operating across 14 different office locations and with many of its employees telecommuting. So, in that regard, communications isn’t as much about proximity as it is about priorities.
Welcoming and listening to your staff’s ideas and implementing the ones that make sense—including recognizing the people for their accomplishment—are key. Top performers prefer working for organizations where they feel valued, heard, and appreciated.
Key point 3: How meaningful is your work? Top talent hungers to work for an organization that provides work with a purpose. If your company does not provide what most employees would consider meaningful work, you can align your organization with a socially conscious cause to provide the meaning top performers are hungry for in their work.
Millennials–the most likely group with the best and brightest talent–indicate they want to work for an organization that makes a positive contribution to their community and the world. What does your company do to support social consciousness? If you are not currently engaged in more than helping your company survive, consider stepping outside your office and finding one or more causes to support with time, talent, or money. While you don’t have to be the next Toms Shoes, find causes that are in alignment with your business. For example, a company that produces educational toys supporting children learning to read.
Key point 4: Can you provide a career path for top performers? What can you do to provide your top talent with opportunities for growth and development? What constructive feedback and coaching can you provide to help the top performer feel challenged to learn more, do more, and be more? Finally, how quickly can your top performers be moved into positions of leadership, and how will you pave their way with other staff members? Faster upward mobility is a motivating factor in attracting and keeping the best talent.
Being or providing a mentor to help your top performers grow into a leadership role is one solution. Seminars, conferences, and meetings to gain knowledge are also great. Have the top talent report back on what they have learned to polish their presentation skills and become more visible to other team members. Provide top performers with the opportunity to gain visibility with customers, clients, and partners through customer/client/partner-facing projects. Check with your top talent frequently to ensure he or she feels supported. Provide specific feedback to help the top performer understand where he/she needs to make changes, so your talent can learn and grow. Today’s key performers welcome this type of help.
Key point 5: Are you using technology to further your company? Today’s top talent expects the latest technology, and they are ready to help you use it effectively. This means that if you engage your top talent in finding and acquiring the best technology to move your company forward, your top people are also going to be the ones to help you implement it for maximum effectiveness. This serves two purposes; moving your company forward, and engaging your top performers in their work. It is a win/win situation for everyone.
Surprise! None of these key points mentioned money. While money is important, enjoying the work, feeling like an integral and vital part of the organization, having a chance to learn and develop, and doing something of value for the community and/or the world is proving to be at least as important as a paycheck. This is something you can do today, right now, to move your company forward and attract the best and brightest talent to help you grow and prosper. So what are you waiting for?