January 11, 2017

Finding and Keeping a Talented Workforce: Challenging But Not Impossible

An increasingly common refrain is that attracting capable, talented, and committed employees is becoming ever more difficult. Equally challenging, according to many, is keeping valuable employees for the long haul. A common misconception is that the answer begins and ends with compensation. While fair and equitable salary and benefits are an important foundation, a number of other factors are critical.

Most people spend 1/4 to 1/3 of their lives working- and the majority of them want work to provide them with considerably more than a paycheck.

These things matter:

A positive work environment and culture. The quality of a workplace is becoming increasingly important to prospective hires and current employees- especially the millennial generation that now comprises the majority of people who are working.

Critically analyze your work environment and culture- is it a positive and enjoyable place to work? Is the work challenging, interesting and varied? Are employees unique talents appreciated and utilized? Do you take time to celebrate success? In essence, everything you look for in your work are the same things your employees value.

Creating and maintaining a desirable place to work is not expensive, but it does require time and attention.

Effective, caring leadership. Often referred to as servant leadership, this approach looks to achieve business or organization success by caring about the development and success of employees. In essence, it gives them the experiences and tools needed to succeed and advance.

Interesting, challenging work. Millennials insist on it and most everyone in fact wants work that engages them and brings new experiences and challenges. People start looking for different employment/volunteer opportunities when they become bored with doing the same thing for too long.

When you survey all of the job functions that need to be performed at your business are there opportunities to rotate some responsibilities? Can committees be formed that bring employees out of their normal day-to-day responsibilities and give them the opportunity to interact with other employees and work as a team? Are you aware of the unique talents that your employees might have that could benefit the company and provide people with “something different?”

Opportunities to contribute. At the end of the day, most people want their work to be an important part of their legacy. During their working career will they have occasions to accomplish something significant that makes a difference? Providing employees with opportunities to contribute in a meaningful way will give good employees a reason to stay with your company.

A Mission that Resonates. In one sentence, what is the mission of your company? In other words why does it exist? Is your mission something that employees are aware of, can be proud of, and can believe in? Most people want to be associated with an enterprise that they feel is worthwhile.

A Company to Be Proud Of. Does your company do things the right way? Are you transparent with your workforce and do you communicate with them often and effectively? Are you an active and positive force in your community? People want to be proud of the company that they work for.

Are you interested in me? At the core, employees want to know that you know who they are and what their life situation is. They want to know that you care about them as individuals and are taking an interest in their lives and career paths. Bottom line is that employees want to feel you value them as people and not just as an expendable provider of needed labor.



It can be difficult to take time away from the everyday business to be concerned and interested in the individuals that work for you and the culture and environment in which they work. Businesses that make this commitment have found that investing in their people results in a more productive workforce. It also makes their company more attractive to prospective employees and more likely to keep current ones.