10 key ways to attract and retain your most talented staff

A constant lament of frustrated managers is that good help is hard to find. It is if you’re looking for it the wrong way!

When a company is hiring they tend to focus on the skills required. You might need an accountant or a graphic designer, but looking at skills in isolation is a shortcut to failure. When there is a disconnect between the skills and the attitude required, cracks start to appear. So the next question is: How do you hire the right attitude?

1. Company’s marketing collateral

Talented people usually know they’re talented. They’re not just looking for a job; they’re looking for a job at a company that does something great. If you have a great culture, working environment or remuneration packages, that’s great – but if you don’t have the branding that screams “this is a place you want to work” then you need to work a bit harder.

2. Show great leadership

“People don’t leave jobs or companies; they leave managers.” It’s true that many people will stay at a job despite it being inconvenient to get to, with low pay if they have a manager that inspires them. When this culture of strong management and leadership exists across the company (rather than limited to a few individuals) then your organisation becomes known as one that is fantastic to work at.

3. Great work environment: flexible, caring and positive

Companies that support family lifestyles and really support their employees in times of need quickly gain a reputation for being great places to work. Of course, some unscrupulous employees will take advantage of a supportive system, but over time a positive environment tends to gather momentum.

4. Offer great work experience for interns and newcomers

Most organisations use internships as an opportunity to get some of those annoying odd jobs finished. Most likely the intern will then tell their friends that the place is terrible but, hey, they can now tick it off the to-do list on their way to finding somewhere better to work.

If you give an intern an end-to-end task, one in which they can work on something at the beginning, right through to completion and then allow them to witness an effect they’ve created (perhaps a small scale marketing campaign) then you not only provide a great learning experience but you also give them a reason to come back!

5. Know the rates for staff: Make sure it’s attractive and not low

Although I often talk about salary as being a poor motivator of good working performance, there is a reality that needs to be faced: if you cut too close to the bone with salary packages then you are giving an excuse for job applicants to look elsewhere. You don’t have to be excessive, but you do need to make sure you’re not at the very lowest end of the scale unless you can provide clear and rewarding career pathways.

6. Offer opportunities to learn, travel – be creative!

When you want your talented employees to grow, the first thought that most management teams have is to push them towards structured education. Although it is effective, you can be a bit more creative and memorable than this! Some businesses use employee of the month schemes or a fancy lunch as a reward, but if the aim is to reward your team member and help them grow then think about extending their world exposure. When you give someone a memorable experience it is much more exciting and motivating than any of these predictable rewards.

7. What other benefits can you offer? More responsibility, perhaps?

Talented people often like being challenged. Where possible, give your talented and ambitious employees tasks that sit just outside their comfort zone, with enough help and support for them to be able to complete the task properly. Also, allowing these staff members to occasionally take part in a cross-functional project can be a good way to extend their skills and scope.

8. Career progression and opportunities for advancement

There is nothing more demotivating than a ceiling. If someone feels they have reached their limit within an organisation their performance will plateau and they’ll work for comfort. Larger companies have the benefit of mapping out a career path and providing promotion as an incentive to work harder and achieve more.

9. Profit sharing

When people feel as though they are part of something bigger they tend to present more altruistic behaviours and a stronger work ethic. One such method is to offer shares or profit sharing for employees that have done particularly well, or have been an integral part of a successful advancement of the company.

Although it is a monetary reward, profit sharing, particularly by way of shares in the company, works differently because it is not seen as cash. When employees feel like they own part of the company they work for, they will likely show more commitment and pride.

10. Brilliant marketing campaign

When it comes to attracting people from outside your company, one of the most important things is brand presence. If you have a recognisable brand, built on the back of brilliant and memorable marketing campaigns, then you become a destination company that people want to work at. Fun, energetic brands, especially those with humour in their advertising, tend to be magnets for young, ambitious and talented employees.

In my experience, the companies that consider their staff its biggest asset, and make hiring great people a core component of their business, become great companies. The realisation is now sinking in that a positive and energetic workplace is as important as a great product or service.

Eve Ash has a wide range of resources and books that can help people change their thinking and habits in a constructive way.


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