According to a 2017 article published by McKinsey, "almost one-third of senior leaders cite finding talent as their most significant managerial challenge." It's not just them, 82% of companies think they're hiring people who aren't "highly talented," and only 7% of companies who do think they've hired top talent believe they can keep them around. Hiring top talent is key to company success, as highly skilled people are more productive, resulting in stronger returns and more rapid company growth, but companies are floundering when it comes to finding them and bringing them onboard.
The good news is that there is a formula for attracting and retaining top talent, and it all starts with the Employee Value Proposition (EVP). For most companies, the EVP should hit three key points: benefits, salary, and culture.
Not every company can offer a Silicon Valley-style package that includes housing, meals, and childcare, but every company should be striving to cover more than the barebones basics. In Canada, health insurance and paid maternity leave are covered by the government, but companies based in the U.S. need to remember to prioritize providing high-quality health insurance. If you can add on a few extra vacation days, that's great too. In fact, young workers have been found to rank a competitive benefits package above salary on their list of priorities. According to Business Insider, "professionals aged 18 to 34 are up to three times more likely to give up more than 10 percent of their salary," in exchange for benefits that offer increased flexibility.
While an excellent benefits package can do a lot, salary still matters. Offering a salary that is slightly, or even significantly, above market rate is a surefire way to stand out. It may cost you more upfront but investing in talent increases retention and pays off over time. Don't go so high with the salary, though, that a raise at the six-month or one-year mark is out of the question. Everyone wants to see their pay go up, so plan a few years out before settling on a starting figure.
Company culture is one of the top factors in employee turnover and perhaps the hardest thing to showcase when attracting talent. However, there are ways to highlight a positive company culture during your hiring process. Schedule interviews for when the office is bustling, but not stressed out, and show an interest in potential hires' future goals. In an article on attracting talent for Forbes, Brent Gleeson recommends mapping out where a candidate could go within your organization. Looking towards the future shows an investment in leadership development and a commitment to employee advancement.
At the same time, remember the flexibility priority. Young workers are especially attracted to autonomy and individualized schedules, so present opportunities for workplace (and work schedule) customization. Finally, don't forget your company mission statement, which should serve as the guiding force at the core of your culture. Young workers want to feel like their work is important, so be sure to tie their position into the company's broader goals and purpose.
The concept of lifetime employment is nearly dead, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be able to attract and retain top talent. Present candidates with a compelling EVP that balances supportive benefits with a competitive salary, and that highlights the best aspects of your company's culture. Retain your investment by nurturing a supportive culture, investing in your employees' future, and continuously pushing yourself to offer the best you can so you can have the best there is.