The best companies attract the best people. It’s a concept as irrefutable as the laws of gravity.
Even in industries where employers typically have their pick of top talent, becoming an employer of choice has become increasingly important; more and more companies have come to understand that attracting and retaining top talent can give them the edge they need in today’s competitive business landscape. Research shows that creating an environment that supports, motivates and inspires people is often just as important as compensation.
In the 2015 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement survey, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) found that “respectful treatment of employees at all levels,” “trust between employees and senior management” and “benefits” all ranked as top factors leading to employee job satisfaction.
Speaking recently at the 2015 Illinois Leadership Conference, Jodi Nuttall, director of business operations at Aerotek, shared deeper insight on the subject. In her talk, “Being an Employer of Choice; Retaining Top Talent”, Nuttall offered her views on what companies can do to make themselves more attractive to high-quality jobseekers. Here were a few takeaways:
If a company wants to become an employer of choice, it has to start by hiring people who share similar values, says Nuttall. Looking for people who have the right “fit” with company values is just as important as the skills candidates bring to the table.
“Most people are hired because of their skills,” says Nuttall, “but soft skills — the EQ to do the job — are critical.”
Nuttall believes employers should have clear criteria for assessing a candidate’s soft skills. “[At Aerotek] we focus a lot of questions on four things we believe are good indicators of a candidate’s long-term fit for a company,” says Nuttall. “Personal motivation, how you motivate others, how you act on a team and your passion for the job.”
And while Nuttall acknowledges that candidates can occasionally have a difficult time answering questions related to these factors, she believes that digging down to better understand a candidate’s attitudes and opinions about these factors is critical for hiring the best talent — and the right talent.
“As an employer,” Nuttall says, “it’s crucial that you understand what are the foundational, core competencies and values that you’re looking for in employees. From there, determine what questions you can ask to tap into these things.”
“In the context of being an employer of choice,” she advises, “it’s important to understand that it’s not about ‘pruning’ your workforce or workplace to be something that job seekers want; but rather, ‘pruning’ to ensure your hiring process is set up to attract the right talent for your organization — based on culture, engagement and values.”
But hiring the right people is just the start. According to Nuttall, retaining top talent requires ongoing investment in their development. “First and foremost, it’s about attracting the right talent to your organization. After that, it’s about investing, developing and training them to reach their full potential.”
Finally, Nuttall recommends that companies that want to become employers of choice must, above all, know themselves, understand their core values and apply them consistently in everything they do.
“Employers should commit to a set of core values and be sure that all employees understand and live those values,” says Nuttall. “At Aerotek we call these values our Guiding Principles, and we never stop asking ourselves if we’re following them every day. Are we developing ourselves and others? Are we honoring our promises? Are we treating everyone with respect? If we can answer these questions with an affirmative ‘yes,’ then we know we’re on the right track.”