How Savvy Companies Are Winning the Battle for Talent

Recruiting Millennials As the economy continues to improve, the need for young skilled workers is rising. For many companies, the need for finding, hiring, and retaining workers can be challenging. Compound this by the changes in needs and expectations that Millennial and Gen Z workers have brought to the workplace, and you have the perfect storm.

Today, companies need to look beyond compensation when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. You need to look at your corporate philosophy and culture. To win the battle for the top talent, you need to build a strong employer brand.

Here are a few ways savvy companies are winning the battle for talent.

Offer Clarity to Applicants about Your Company’s Core Values

When you have a clear set of defined values and are open and honest with applicants before and during interviews, both prospective hires and those doing the hiring will have a clear idea if they fit before actually working together.

The key is to make sure that the values you’re expressing are authentic. Imitating another businesses’ value set is a big mistake. If you haven’t already done so, take some time to spell out your company’s core values. Speak with your standout team members and ask them what keeps them around; you’ll likely begin to notice distinct patterns.

Once you’ve defined your core values, make sure you walk the walk! Live your values day-in and day-out. Many companies have a list of core values, but what matters is that they are grounded in behaviors. For example, if you say you’re committed to personal growth, but do not have a budget to pay for employees to take courses, your candidates will see right through it.

As past CEO of Pittsburgh’s leading advertising agency, and now President of this blog’s host,, we developed eight core values at my agency by pulling the management team together and throwing everything at the wall that represented any of their core values here. Then we asked the question: can we operate without this one, and that one. We came down to eight that we could not live without. That was after combining terms like honesty, truthfulness, integrity as one (Integrity). There were several like that. We probably started with over 50, and condensed it to eight. Then we came up with a term that the first letter of each spelled that term, and drilled “GOT RICE” into everyone’s minds, so that they could all probably today recite at least five out of eight of them… and that was over 20 years ago! Email me if you want to know what GOT RICE stands for. Or tell me, and I might send you a gift. J

What Today’s Talent is Looking For

Smart HR professionals are highlighting cultures that reflect the needs and expectations of Millennials and Gen Z workers. Beyond the basics of being a great place to work, what these newest members of the workforce are seeking are:

  • Work/Life Balance – While these workers are dedicated and hard-working, it’s important for companies to understand that they have a life outside of work. Policies like flex time, telecommuting, and the ability to donate time to causes they believe in are important differentiators that can help you attract talent.
  • A Strong Sense of Social Responsibility – Companies that are diverse in their hiring, support their local communities, and/or offer paid time off for employees to donate their time are attractive to potential hires. Millennials and Gen Z workers value businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible.
  • Safety and Respect in the Workplace – In a respectful workplace, employees are more engaged and productive. Treating your workers with respect can instill confidence and offer much-needed encouragement. Workers who feel safe and respected while at work, are more satisfied. Respect improves knowledge sharing and boosts the bottom line!
  • The Ability to Advance Their Career – While both Millennials and Gen Z prefer to work independently, both are looking for guidance. Mentorship programs where new hires are paired with experienced employees are an attractive benefit. Offering a program where employees can switch their core focus is also a big draw. For example, Newmark, a real estate firm, offers a two-year program where employees switch positions every six-months to learn about the business, and also to identify where they excel.

While compensation is secondary for a large percentage of millennials and others, it’s still a significant factor. So it’s essential to make sure you show them the total value of their package that includes benefits beyond their paychecks. Total compensation reports are the way to do it.

As the workforce continues to tighten, companies must begin to think beyond compensation to attract and retain the best talent. By defining your company’s core values, and implementing policies that today’s workers are seeking, you can begin to win the battle for the top talent.

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