'Throwing Money at the Problem' Can Scare Away Top Employees

Sometimes throwing money at the problem can work, but in the case of lowering turnover, keeping great employees and fueling a terrific employer brand reputation, it's a woefully inadequate solution.

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By Bryan Adams • Dec 8, 2022

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The New York Times reported that Gen Z employees are now more worried about their finances than climate change. Accordingly, younger workers are more likely to look for a paycheck over workplace principles. On the surface, this sounds like money — aka a juicy salary — is solving talent recruitment snags. However, using money to fill gaps often does more harm than good.

Typically, money is a short-term fix that doesn't get to the root of the problem. A closer look at recent trends reveals that many people who are jumping jobs aren't planning to stick around. An August 2022 CNBC article shows that more than one-quarter of Great Resignation "quitters" regretted their choice to leave. They found what we've all heard for decades: Money can't buy happiness. Additionally, having enough funds to even consider throwing money at the problem might not be an option for entrepreneurs and startups.

So if money isn't going to stop the hurt when it comes to finding and keeping high performers, future leaders and budding superstars, what will? The long-term, sustainable route to building a successful team of eager, loyal employees aligned with a sense of purpose and belonging is to start with a solid foundation. That foundation begins by having a unique employer brand proposition that's intrinsically linked to the reason the organization exists.

Related: Navigating the Great Reshuffle: Why Your Employer Brand Is Key in Recruiting Talent

The sustainable benefits and importance of employer branding

When your employer branding has a clear, known and well-articulated focus, you can avoid just throwing money at problems. For instance, let's say your company is known for exemplary citizenship — an attribute many employees look for in a workplace. The more you drive home just how important citizenship is to your brand and the employees within, the more likely it is that job applicants will be good cultural fits and ready to bring their best selves to the workplace every day.

Patagonia is an excellent example of citizenship in employer branding, as the company aligns its branding strategy with its citizenship beliefs. Patagonia doesn't have to throw money around needlessly to get people to apply for the right reasons. Applicants to Patagonia know what they want and see Patagonia as a place to fulfill their passion while earning a living.

Fortunately, you don't need to be a large, well-known organization such as Patagonia to improve your employer branding strategy. The following steps can help you get started on the right path to successful employer branding and employee retention.

Related: Your Reputation on the Line: Employer Branding

1. Uncover and name your company's authentic ethos.

Your business is distinctive, but can you put your finger on what makes it so unique? To develop your employer brand, you must invest time and energy into determining what makes your company stand apart from the rest. Is it that your company is a career catalyst such as Alphabet, propelling employees' careers by looking good on a résumé? Or is your people-first company culture impressive and unusual for your industry such as JPMorgan Chase? The most important first step is making an effort to find out.

Once you've claimed the purpose of your organization, you can begin to infuse it throughout everything you do. This will help workers feel more attuned to your workplace. Be aware that it might drive out those who don't feel aligned with your authentic brand. That's OK. As a recent Qualtrics survey found, 70 percent of happy employees are glad to recommend their company to other job seekers. So you might lose a few people who weren't good fits, but you'll gain others who are excited to work for your brand.

2. Upgrade your people policies.

As soon as you have at least one employee, your business must adopt a "people-first company" strategy. To do so, begin by implementing policies that will provide solutions for your workers' everyday problems. For instance, you might want to add a new benefit to your employee plan because you're hearing that employees expect it and won't stick around without it. Putting your people first will create loyalty and inspire employees even years later to recommend your business to others.

Additionally, the more responsive you are to what people need, the more they'll open up to you. They'll be willing to be vulnerable because they know their employer will hear them. Doing so will create a sense of pride in your organization as a place where workers feel psychologically safe and validated. Harvard Business Review explains that 65 percent of workers report feeling disconnected on the job. Listening to your employee base and empowering them to work with you to grow your company is critical to reconnecting the people who make your organization strong.

Related: Why Employer Branding Is So Important

3. Train your managers on exemplifying your employer brand.

It's hard to claim that your business has a fantastic employer brand if your managers aren't passing along an incredible employee experience. Remember the adage that people leave bosses not organizations? It's true. Ongoing management training will help your leaders learn how to listen to employees, understand the pillars of your employer brand foundation and translate your employer brand strategy into the workplace.

The ripple effect of making sure your corporate leaders work in sync can turn your company into an unstoppable force. Although you'll be spending a little money on training, you'll save a lot on attrition. After all, 90 percent of respondents to a 2021 EY Consulting survey equated good leadership with empathetic leaders. Be sure to add empathy training into the mix, as compassion goes a long way toward crafting a competitive advantage when hiring top talent.

Throwing money at the problem only forces you to do more with less. Rather than try to use dollars alone to fix issues such as labor shortages, try mending the holes in the fabric of your employer brand. Doing so will create results that last, employees who are more willing to recommend you when you're searching for top talent and a business that can be successful even amid uncertainty.

Bryan Adams

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

CEO and founder of Ph.Creative

Bryan Adams is the CEO and founder of Ph.Creative, a global employer-branding agency. He is a prominent employer-brand thought leader as well as a podcaster, speaker and author of "Give and Get Employer Branding."

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