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The Key to Achieving Your Company's Growth Strategies Is Talent

All companies, regardless of their growth forecast, need to be thinking about retaining the talent that they have and attracting new talent. Providing meaningful work, career development and flexibility will help you retain your current talent and attract new talent.

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Do your 2022 goals include growth?

Most companies have goals for growth each year. This might include more customers for existing products or an expansion of current business offerings. To support this growth, you need more talent. Unfortunately, the labor market is incredibly competitive right now.

In addition, the Great Resignation is exacerbating the situation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since July 2021 more than four million Americans have voluntarily quit their jobs each month. The Great Resignation has shown us that employees are not just looking for a strong compensation and benefits package. They are demanding more from their employers including meaningful work, growth opportunities and flexibility.

All companies, regardless of their growth forecast, need to be thinking about retaining the talent that they have and attracting new talent.

When designing a talent strategy for growth, start with how to retain the talent that you currently have

To improve retention, you'll want to identify what sources of information you have about how your current talent feels. Do you have any surveys or anecdotal feedback? An effective and underutilized method is to conduct stay interviews. These can be done by HR, but they don't have to be. Consider having a skip level or even just bringing up these questions in a one-on-one. Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • What does the employee like about working at the company?

  • Is there anything that the employee would like to see changed?

  • What are the employee's development goals and career aspirations? Do they know how the company might be able to support them in achieving these?

  • Ask the employee to let you know if they are looking for other opportunities. It's not always easy to ask. However, this gives you the chance to see if you can do anything internally before the employee leaves.

Many employees have shared that they recently left their jobs in search of meaningful work, growth opportunities and flexibility

Employees who are looking for meaningful work want to feel that their personal values align with the mission of the company they work for. Do your team members understand your company's mission and how they contribute toward this mission? It's important to communicate this regularly. At the company level, it ensures that all employees are aligned with the company's goals. At the individual level, it emphasizes how the employee's work is meaningful.

Career development is next. This is an area in which some small businesses or startups initially struggle. There might not be a lot of internal promotional opportunities. This doesn't mean that you don't offer growth opportunities. Early in my career, I worked for a nonprofit and then went to work for a Fortune 100-sized company. While I was at the nonprofit, I had the opportunity to wear a lot of different hats, work on a variety of projects and had access to senior leadership. It took years at the Fortune 100 company for me to see some of the same opportunities. If you don't have a lot of promotional opportunities to offer, make sure you talk about other meaningful development opportunities that you can offer to team members. Ask them what skills they want to develop, and if possible, give them opportunities to work on projects in these areas.

The search for flexibility is another reason we are seeing workers leave companies. This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be 100% remote, particularly if you're in an industry that relies on in-person work. Instead, talk with each individual to understand what flexibility they might be seeking. Some might need to work remotely on a particular day or shift their work hours to pick their kids up from school. Maybe they want to take a two-hour lunch break so they can go to the gym each day. I recommend that leaders be as flexible as possible when the request doesn't interfere with the employee's ability to get their job done.

If you're growing, you probably can't rely solely on retaining the talent that you have

When it comes to improving outcomes with talent attraction and acquisition, there are three key areas to consider. First, how do you package and present your talent value proposition? Those are big words that mean this: What do you offer your talent? Here's where you can think about pay, bonuses, benefits, time off, work location (e.g. remote), career development, flat structure, etc. Ask your team members what they like best about working for your company to get ideas. In fact, you might already have some of this from those stay interviews you conducted.

Do you have an external splash page that talks about the benefits of working at your company? This can be quick to put together and well worth the time invested. Consider putting up quotes from employees, or even better, quick video clips.

Next, as you look at your recruiting process, think about personalization and response time. If you are proactively reaching out to someone to ask them to apply, make the outreach more personal. Why are you interested in this individual? It always feels good when someone is individually recognized for their accomplishments and skills. Bringing this into the interview process makes it more likely that the candidate will consider your offer.

Last but not least, look at your cycle time. How many interviews do you put a candidate through? How quickly do you make an offer? In a competitive talent market like we are in, it pays to move quickly.

You rely on your talent to achieve your growth goals. Providing meaningful work, career development and flexibility will help you retain your current talent and attract new talent.

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