All the clients that I have ever worked with want me to find the best and most gifted people to join their company and teams. Without exception! No one ever says, “Can you find me a mediocre Software Engineer?” Or, “We are looking for some solid C players to help grow this company.” Everyone is about getting the best and brightest, and that is why companies engage our services. The reality is not all companies are created equal. In order to recruit and retain top talent you have to be an exceptional employer. Is your company an exceptional employer?
Answering that question requires serious introspection on the part of leaders to realistically assess the value that their company brings to its employees. The days of employees being loyal to a company because they receive a paycheck are long gone. Today’s high-tech and rapidly changing workforce has high expectations for employers. This is especially true for highly sought after employees like Software Developers or Data Architects. The question is, “What value does our company bring to its employees?” Your company should bring value to the people it employs and if it is not, then you are not an exceptional employer.
What does it mean for a company to bring value to its employees? It means that the company is actively engaged in improving the lives of its employees both inside and outside of work. Often it is the little things that matter most. There are very inexpensive ways to bring value but they do take some thought and initiative. This is not easy but I have included some practical thoughts below that might help you begin the conversation within your organization.
How to be an exceptional employer:
1. X-Factor – Find out what your employees want out of their career and strive to give it to them. When leaders value people for who they are and not what they do, it produces results and undying loyalty. If employees believe that their employer is committed to helping them achieve their dreams regardless of ROI then everyone benefits. How? If you have an employee that is simply doing a job for a paycheck, then you really don’t want them on your team and they are not productive. In the end, you might be able to help them find their passion within your company and all parties benefit. At worst, you help someone find another career and make room for another team member that is more passionate about their work. As Zig Ziglar once said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” I believe this is absolutely true for businesses as well.
2. Aesthetics – Has your company invested in the overall design and layout of the physical office space? It’s amazing how a little investment can go a long way in this area. If your offices are not designed in a way that motivates people to come there, then people probably won’t come there. This includes excellent employees.
3. Food & Beverage – There is a company here in Nashville that provides lunch for its employees every day. This may not seem like much but since their arrival this company has attracted some of the best and brightest technical talent that Nashville has to offer. Every developer that works for them has said, “they give me lunch every day.” (Note, this company happens to have very complex and challenging work which helps them attract exceptional employees.) It is a relatively small investment that has paid big dividends and brings value to their employees. If this is not feasible for your company, then at least provide snacks and drinks to everyone.
4. Give Back – People intrinsically want to give to their community and to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Your company will add value to the community and its employees when it provides opportunities for employees to actively engage in giving back.
5. Healthy Lifestyle – Incentivize your employees to live active healthy lifestyles. There are a lot of ways to do this and you may have to get creative depending on the size of your company. The obvious ways are to pay for gym memberships, provide a workout facility onsite and run internal healthy living campaigns. Your company could also hire bootcamp or yoga instructors to come in and teach a class a few times a week. The most important thing is to make living an active lifestyle a priority for all your employees. Employees will need the time and incentive to do so and your company will reap the benefit of having a highly energized workforce.
Finally, if your company is unable or unwilling to do any of these things listed then I encourage you to lead your employees well by caring more about who they are rather than what they can do for you.