With outstanding candidates in short supply, organizations must be compelling places to come to, says a new report by Slone Partners. Five key strategies will help your business get a competitive advantage. Above all, cultivate a highly visible and genuinely positive workplace culture.
With the nation’s economy churning on all cylinders and the labor market stretched thin, many companies are having to work harder to attract and retain the best talent. As CEO for nationwide life sciences search firm Slone Partners, Leslie Loveless can attest to the challenges clients face in attracting the right people for the biggest and most mission-critical positions.
“There simply isn’t enough top talent to go around, so companies need to separate themselves from the pack to position themselves as the place where people want to be,” Ms. Loveless said in a newly released report. “Experienced executives with stellar track records as well as those up-and-coming younger leaders with unique skill-sets are often fielding multiple offers simultaneously as companies scramble to fill critical leadership positions.”
“As such, some positions sit empty for months, and others may be filled by less experienced and less qualified candidates,” Ms. Loveless said. “Facing this reality, there are five key strategies that companies can deploy to get a leg up in attracting the best talent.”
1. First and foremost, companies must make it a priority to cultivate a highly visible and genuinely positive workplace culture. It’s not enough to be above average.
“Reputations matter in a market with countless companies that have superior technology,” said Ms. Loveless. “Executives are seeking opportunities in environments that inspire greatness and instill a sense of camaraderie, innovation, shared values, and a sense of purpose. Leaders must be transparent and accountable, and every employee throughout the organization must be engaged and empowered.”
“Many of the executives we have recruited won’t even take a call from a company that isn’t noted for its incredible workplace culture,” she said. “They have too many options in this market to even think about taking a chance on an organization that may not offer them everything they need to succeed.”
2. Companies need to tailor their mission and operations to appeal to Millennials.
The Millennial generation is far different than its predecessors and is a fast-growing presence in the workforce. As documented in Harvard Business Review, these young people are extremely committed, socially conscious and hard-working, but also prone to burnout.
“They currently make up about half the nation’s workforce, but only a quarter of the leadership positions,” said Ms. Loveless. “Those proportions will only grow in coming decades, so companies need to design structures and systems, policies and cultures that will attract them and that allow for them to develop and succeed over time.”
3. Companies that want to land the best leaders need to move very quickly.
“They must design their recruiting operations to identify and attract talent with a minimum of hurdles,” Ms. Loveless said. “The most talented executives out there won’t wait long since they are often being recruited by several companies at once.”
“To be successful, leaders themselves have to be transformational,” says Colin Baker, a partner at London-based executive search firm Wilton & Bain, and head of the firm’s global technology officers’ practice. “They have to want to change something; they have to want to create positive change within an organization.” These leaders, according to Mr. Baker, are in short supply and heavy demand.
“The company that moves swiftly and most effectively often wins out in this competitive marketplace,” she said. “Fast tracking the interview and hiring processes aren’t easy to do, particularly within larger organizations, but leadership teams need to make this a priority if they want their companies to secure the best people.”
4. Companies must be willing to consider offering alternative work options for their most valued recruits.
According to a recent Gallup report, the number of workers no longer permanently tethered to a desk in a corporate office is growing as approximately 43 percent of Americans work remotely at least some of the time.
“Obviously not every company can afford to offer such options to top executives, but in some sectors, like high tech, certain functions can and are being performed at high levels without regard to physical locale,” said Ms. Loveless. “Providing the flexibility for a top recruit to work remotely at least some of the time may be the deciding factor for landing that person at the company.”
5. Businesses need to work smarter to use social media to distinguish themselves in the market.
Although almost every company utilizes social media, they don’t all do it right. “The best companies are using their digital platforms every day to get their positive messages out there in a sustained and compelling way,” Ms. Loveless said. “They prioritize their communications operations to ensure a robust and high-quality cadre of master story tellers who consistently reinforce the inspiring mission-centric values and accomplishments that make their companies unique. Recruits pay attention to these stories, and companies can reach them directly through the right social media channels.”
Companies small and large are battling harder than ever to attract and retain the most talented professionals they need to meet their organizational goals, said Ms. Loveless. “But these five strategies — creating a highly visible positive work culture, appealing to Millennials, moving quickly in finding and securing talent, offering flexible work options, and better leveraging social media — can help separate these companies from their competitors,” she said.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media