7 Steps to Compete in the War for Talent

Word on the street says that the economy is picking up and more jobs are being created, especially in the manufacturing sector. However, I guarantee, the “war for talent” experienced earlier in this decade will increasingly become a challenge. This will create even more pressure for organizations to create a work environment that can attract and retain highly qualified workers. Just what does that environment look like, how is it created and how is it sustained?

First of all, a work environment that is attractive to candidates is an “engaging” environment, one where management believes in its critical value to the company and leaders are seen to “walk the talk”. An engaging work environment is one where workplace flexibility exists and employees can work from a number of locations.

Secondly, an engaging work environment sees management allocating time and energy to learning what job satisfiers are important to their employees. They then structure a strategy to reinforce and reward their team in unique and fun ways. Employees who feel valued will stay in their employment as long as they feel appreciated.

Thirdly, an engaging work environment values the contributions of all its employees. Employees are given responsibility, accountability, and authority over their work. They are encouraged to be creative and innovative and to improve their work performance in any way they can. Communication in all areas of the organization increases, people solve their own issues, and best of all they feel empowered.

Managers and leaders do exactly that; they allow for as much independence as possible and make themselves available to solve problems as they arise. The result is a workforce that is loyal and committed, who demonstrate energy and motivation and, frankly, “love to come to work”.

Fourthly, organizations who develop a reputation for being the best place to work invest in training and development for their employees. This can range from short one-day programs, to assisting with gaining professional designations. Employees who are current in their field of expertise are valuable assets to the company and they are motivated by being the “expert”. Employees want to belong to an organization that values their skills and helps them to continually develop.

Fifthly, employees are attracted to organizations who know who they are, where they are going, what they want to achieve and are also known to offer high standards for quality and customer service. Employees achieve part of their personal identity from their employer, and therefore the public image and reputation of an organization is very important to its ability to attract and retain talent.

Sixthly, employees are attracted to and stay with an employer who shares their personal values and beliefs. When that occurs, there is a culture of consistency that helps to bind people together. Look at what your culture has to offer and market this to potential employees. Take pride in your culture.

Lastly, employees are attracted by the leaders in an organization. Those leaders who command excellence will be able to build excellence. Good leaders encourage and help employees be the best they can be and gain a reputation in the industry. They are of strong character and are not threatened by someone with greater skill. They mentor, coach and develop employees.

It is well known that the “money motivator” doesn’t last very long. If that is all you can offer and that is all your employees expect, then you will also experience high turnover as your team moves from place to place in search of the almighty dollar. On the other hand, if you want to truly attract and retain high producing employees, spend your time and energy focusing on your organizational culture. Create an environment where employees are valued and appreciated, rewarded and recognized for work well done and are given the overall opportunity to act as “owners” and not as “renters”.