Work Perks No Longer Work for Talent Attraction

As fitness gurus across the country shout “New Year, New You” across the country, maybe it’s time for businesses to adopt the same mantra. The old ways of talent attraction just aren’t cutting it, and what may have attracted one generation won’t necessarily attract the next. What’s more, as companies try to get ahead of each other in the war for talent, they lose sight of what employees really want.


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As The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently pointed out, work perks like free food, ping pong tables, and nap pods aren’t cutting it in the talent attraction department. And instead, companies that offer a culture of trust and room to grow are winning the war and attracting the most coveted employees: those who are in it for the long haul.
Because let’s face it: At the end of the day, isn’t it better if your workforce sticks around rather than having to worry about filling a vacant role every time an employee leaves for the competition? It’s time for employers to shift gears and start turning their talent attraction strategies into talent retention strategies. Here’s how:

Develop Current Employees for the Future

If you aren’t already developing your current workforce for future leadership roles, your company is at a disadvantage, both currently and in the future. Today’s jobseeker is looking for a company that offers a long-term career path.
According to WSJ, the top 13% of companies, in a Bersin study, were five times as likely to develop and promote current workers—and three times as likely to retain top talent—than the lowest-performing companies. These same top companies also posted a 30% higher profit per employee, which goes to show that developing your current workforce also has a positive return on investment (ROI).
If your company is on a budget, one way to develop workers without spending a dime is through job rotation. Mastercard uses this strategy and says it “offers employees job-rotation opportunities to build skills as early as one year after joining the company.” By training employees early on and for as many roles as possible, you’re passing institutional knowledge onto everyone.
If one person leaves a specific role, other employees will be able to quickly pick up the slack from having the experience of rotating through that role. Michael Fraccaro, chief human resources officer for Mastercard, tells WSJ, “The company also plots career paths to various top jobs and allows employees to research jobs and the skills they require on a career-navigation tool.”
As Millennials and Gen Z continue to flood the workforce and demand the training to keep their skills relevant, employers would be wise to showcase these developmental opportunities as a “work perk” when trying to recruit the next generation of workers.

Create a Cohesive Culture by Making Employees Feel Wanted and Welcome

When employees feel wanted and welcomed in the workplace, they’re more likely to be productive, engaged, and happier with their jobs. Scott Beth, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Intuit, tells WSJ that the company “invests heavily in teaching problem-solving and innovation skills to all of its nearly 9,000 workers, and encourages work teams to develop the closeness and trust needed to brainstorm freely.” WSJ says that this results in “an unusually cohesive culture,” citing 82% of Intuit employees who say they feel like they “belong” at the company.
Anyone who’s ever taken a psychology or education course knows all too well about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and if not, it’s basically like the food pyramid but made up of the stuff that fuels humans’ motivation.
When our most basic needs are met, like knowing we are safe and have food to survive, we are then motivated to achieve higher needs, like esteem and self-actualization. “Belonging,” or our need to feel “loved,” falls right in the middle of this pyramid. As we can see from Intuit’s example, when employees feel like they belong, they’re happier and create a culture based on mutual trust and understanding.
While Intuit is focusing on the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy, WD-40 is focusing on “basic needs.” WD-40 CEO Garry Ridge tells WSJ, “Employees are encouraged to take a ‘maniac pledge,’ vowing to take responsibility for getting answers they need and making decisions. Failures and mistakes must be called learning moments.” This helps “create a sense of safety and belonging,” WSJ reports.
At WD-40, managers are called “coaches,” which helps to emphasize their role as teachers, not just “bosses.” Ridge also tells WSJ that “there’s a heavy emphasis on having fun: The company website offers videos of employees at several U.S. and overseas offices doing favorite dances or skits.” This culture has also provided the company with a 93% employee engagement rate, which is twice over the national average of just 34%.
WD-40’s culture can also be attributed to its bottom line. WSJ reports that the company’s “total shareholder returns … have grown at a compound annual rate of 20%, and earnings are up 136%.” With numbers like that, it’s no wonder that companies are focusing more efforts on improving their cultures.
So, what are you doing to attract talent in this tight labor market? It may be time to rethink your current strategies and instead start looking at employee retention.
Learn how your company’s current recruiting practices are helping or hurting your goal of attracting talent when you attend the session, “The Rules of Engagement for Candidate Attraction: How What You’re Doing—Or Not Doing—Could Be Sabotaging Your Recruitment Efforts,” at TalentCon 2019 on March 12—13, 2019, in San Antonio, Texas. Click here to learn more or to register today!

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