Despite some talk of recession, we are still in an era where the labor market is tight and organizations have to work in order to recruit and retain the best talent. The market for high-quality talent is hyper-competitive, and it’s no longer just about offering a competitive salary. The new-age professionals are looking for much more than that—they are seeking purpose, flexibility, connection, and trust.
In the latest episode of my podcast “Better Leaders, Better Workplaces” with Michele Koch, Senior Vice President and Chief Culture and People Development Officer at Republic Bank, we discussed many topics around fine-tuning a company’s culture to enhance the employee experience.
4 Non-Negotiables to Embrace
Last week I wrote about the 4 ways Republic Bank is enhancing the employee life-cycle experience. This week let’s look at some of the non-negotiables that will help your organization out-compete to retain and attract top talent.
1 – Corporate Citizenship
The days of the faceless, soulless corporate behemoth are gone. Today’s employees are increasingly attracted to businesses that don’t just exist to make profits. They want to work for organizations that are committed to making a positive social and environmental impact. This sense of corporate citizenship is about companies taking responsibility beyond the ledger.
For Koch, this expanded sense of purpose is what makes some companies destination employers.
“Employees really want to be part of organizations that are making a positive impact in the community. They’re drawn to companies that give back to the community in both financial and non-financial ways.” To be seen as an appealing place to work, businesses need to demonstrate their dedication to the communities where they reside. Employees want to feel that their work contributes to something bigger than themselves, and companies that provide this sense of purpose will have a distinct advantage.
2 – Workplace Flexibility
The traditional 9-to-5 model of work is increasingly becoming a thing of the past.
Today’s top-tier talent seeks flexibility—be it in terms of work hours, location, or work structure. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this shift, proving that remote work and flexible schedules can be just as productive, if not more so, than rigid, traditional arrangements.
“We’ve recognized through the pandemic that we had opportunities for people to take on new work,” says Koch, “and that some of the work could be conducted very effectively remotely, we have people in our outer markets who are just as engaged in some of the back-office functions.” Embracing workplace flexibility shows respect for employees’ personal lives and their various responsibilities outside of work. It also speaks to a company’s ability to adapt and evolve, qualities that are highly attractive to forward-thinking talent.
3 – Intentionally Building Connections
Human beings are inherently social creatures. Despite the rise of technology and remote working, employees want to feel connected to their colleagues and superiors. Companies that foster a strong sense of community and prioritize team-building often see higher levels of employee satisfaction and retention. But this takes effort on the part of leaders. You can’t just assign work and wait for results. There needs to be more between the inputs and the outputs.
This can be achieved by promoting open communication, providing opportunities for team collaboration, and organizing social events, either virtually or in person.
According to Koch, at Republic Bank “We have expectations of all managers to have frequent one-on-one with their individuals and have career discussions.” The more an employee feels connected and valued, the more likely they are to stay committed to their role and the organization.
4 – Trust
Trust is the cornerstone of any successful relationship, and it is no different in the context of the employer-employee relationship. Employees need to trust that their organization values them and will treat them fairly. On the other hand, companies need to trust their employees to do their jobs effectively and make decisions in the company’s best interest.
“Trust is really paramount,” says Koch. “When relationships start to break apart because people aren’t as connected, the trust starts to wane.” Fostering this mutual trust requires transparency, regular and open communication, recognizing and rewarding hard work, and treating employees with respect. Trust can’t be built overnight, but companies that put in the effort to cultivate it will reap the benefits in terms of increased employee loyalty and commitment.
Rise to the Challenge
Keeping your best employees is harder than ever and it takes work. Finding top-tier talent to replace those who leave is difficult and expensive. Organizations need to rise to the challenge and align their operations and values with the expectations of modern professionals. Only then can companies position themselves as desirable places to work for the talent of today and tomorrow.