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5 Tips for Hiring and Retaining Top Talent This growing, Ohio-based business know first-hand what it takes to recruit and keep the right talent. Here's how.


Hiring top talent in a competitive market can be quite a challenge. Take it from the team at Olive, a Columbus, Ohio-based AI and healthcare process automation company. They have first-hand experience hiring critical roles in Ohio, a Midwestern state that's increasingly becoming a hub for all types of startups.

Last year, an increased demand for their product drove Olive to more than double their existing headcount. Rather than just recruiting at scale to get people through the door, Olive focused on hiring talent with the necessary skill sets to accommodate their unique product offering.

The person in charge of this undertaking was Brian Rutkowski, Olive's Chief People Officer. Here, he shares his top five tips for hiring and retaining a strong workforce.

1. Prioritize candidate alignment with your company's core values.

No matter what industry or role a candidate finds themself in, one thing is true across the board: people want to work toward something meaningful. One of the key drivers of a potential employee's motivation can be found within your company's mission. "At Olive, we try to search for candidates that are genuinely compelled by our values. Our employees are here because they want to be part of something bigger than themselves, leave a legacy, and make a meaningful impact on an important industry," Rutkowski explains.

Throughout the recruiting process, Rutkowski believes it is important to make your values known and to look for candidates who are motivated by your mission. "You want to find people that take pride in their work and have a sense of ownership over their role," he says. "These people will be proactive, flexible team players. Plus, that owner's mentality will take you, and your candidates, above and beyond."

2. Be flexible.

With a lot of employees opting for hybrid or flex-work environments, it's important to match these types of models to stay competitive in the hiring market. "If you want to hire great talent, I believe that you have to trust them to decide where and how they do their best work," Rutkowski says. "At Olive, we went all in on a flexible, distributed work model, and that has truly allowed us to come out ahead of the competition."

Doing so has enabled Olive to tap into talent networks beyond the greater Columbus area. "Moving to our distributed work model, we have been able to hire a more talented, diverse workforce," he says.

Still, hiring locally is a priority for Olive. "We have been able to recruit and build in Columbus, which has been great for us throughout the history of the company," he explains. "The Columbus area is home to more than 50 college campuses, 16 Fortune 1000 company headquarters, and an explosive startup scene. Companies here have been able to collect $1.4 billion in investments in 2021 alone, and we are setting records every year for VC investments. This location has been great for us in establishing talent and augmenting it as we scale and our model changes."

3. Don't be afraid to seek out external resources.

While most larger companies have the infrastructure to support a full, in-house recruiting team, companies in their scaling phases might not have the resources yet to do so. Rutkowski agrees that there are external options out there to help companies seek out high-quality talent in these earlier stages, especially in Columbus, Ohio.

"Columbus is an extremely collaborative city, and the collaboration between the public and private sector is fantastic," he says. "They have a ton of great programs for scaling companies. JobsOhio is an excellent resource for early-phase startups that might not have the bandwidth or expertise to run talent attraction programs. … They really helped us in our efforts to grow from 200 employees to where we are now."

4. Establish a feedback culture.

During the recruiting process, it's extremely important to open lines for feedback to not only understand how you can improve your own processes but also to show candidates they will be heard throughout their interview stages as well as when they join your company. This helps to create a transparent environment where people feel empowered to share and problem solve in a safe space.

"At Olive, we work hard to give our employees a voice, to let them know that we are acting on the feedback they provide us with, and to show them the results of their feedback," Rutkowski says. "This has served as a sort of glue for our organization, and helps us work together and push for a better working environment across the company."

5. Invest in leadership and development.

Managers can either make or break a job for employees and potential candidates. According to a recent survey, 82 percent of respondents said they would leave their roles due to poor management.

To get potential new hires on board and keep current talent satisfied, investing in leadership is a great way to ensure everyone is learning, growing, and working together. "We are relying on our managers to deliver a good experience for our employees, and they need the right training, tools, and resources to do so," Rutkowski says.

To do so, Olive has invested in mentorship programs, a management training series, as well as development programs for leaders like its Women in Leadership program. "If we hire great people from the top down, we will be able to trust them to do great work without micromanagement, which is where I think a lot of companies lose out on great talent," Rutkowski says.

Click here to learn more about how JobsOhio helps startups hire, grow, and thrive.