In any successful, growing business, there’s an internal struggle. How much do you invest in the value of your people vs. how can you keep larger companies with deeper pockets from recruiting and poaching them?
Businesses that use incentives to keep top talent can win that battle for a time, but, eventually, they will lose the war. There’s simply too deep a well of resources attached to other opportunities. So, if you’re that smaller company with those great talents, what are some other options to keep them in house? You need to focus on culture and engagement as the glue that keeps a winning team together. Fortunately, communication is key. Preparation also is important.
Just because a person is a high performer does not mean they are fully engaged with your company's mission and vision. They could be highly disciplined or personally motivated. Perhaps they are building up their resume or trying to grab someone’s attention.
The fact is that some of your best people already are thinking about leaving. Others have dreams that are much different than what they believe your company can offer. They will work hard while they’re there, but they’re leaving soon. That is unless you can engage them in two things: their work and the company’s message.
You want top talent to be able to articulate the company’s vision. It is critical to find a way to connect them with it. People leave jobs all the time. Yet if they share a company's vision or a cause, it will be much more difficult to depart.
Exceed the customer's expectations is one of the mantras of business. Few businesses, though, give similar consideration to their workforce's expectations.
Today’s top talent has aspirations for their work associations in the same way they have ambitions for their careers. They want the company they’re investing in to be exceptional, to make a difference and set a new standard.
In addition, top talent want to know they matter, and that the work they’re doing will continue to be engaging and impactful. They don’t want to pull a lever in a system. In short, they want to make a difference and acknowledgement.
In response, you could take the position that they should be happy to have that job, or you could invest essentially the same amount of time, energy and resources into communicating your appreciation for their effort.
Continue to Encourage
One of the most important keys here is to view this process as an ongoing dialogue, not a single speech. The idea is to create a culture of encouraging, appreciative communication that continues to engage and inspire.
That doesn’t mean you need to walk around constantly patting people on the back. You need to intentionally focus on letting people know specific ways they are appreciated and make a difference. Do this on a regular basis.
This can mean making sure managers are offering specific points of feedback during regular employee check-ins and annual reviews. Or it can be done through internal communications. How about including a place within your employee newsletter for shout-outs to those doing a great job or making an extraordinary effort for the team?
On the surface, that may not seem like an efficient use of your time, but consider the amount of money it takes to find and hire a replacement for a person who found a place they felt they would be more engaged and appreciated.
The bottom line is that getting into the habit of positive, constructive, and engaging internal communication can create an environment your best people will want to contribute to, rather than abandon.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR