The Importance of Company Reputation in the Battle for Talent
What people think of your company as a place to work matters a lot to your bottom line. Smart CEOs know this instinctively if not empirically. If your company has a reputation for being the place to work, guess what, the best talent gravitates to you and your best employees tend to stick around longer. Top talent plus low turnover equals a higher level of performance.
The War for Talent
Ten years ago the shot heard ’round the recruiting world was the McKinsey & Co. declaration that better employee talent is worth fighting for. The 1998 bombshell article in the McKinsey Quarterly titled, “The War for Talent,” predicted a battle that would last for decades.
Publications like Fast Company quickly spread the news from the boardroom bunkers to the cubicle trenches. The reason was demographics and the retirement of the Baby Boom generation. The battle cry was to not only improve hiring practices, but to work harder to retain your best employees.
McKinsey’s supply and demand predictions have come true with a vengeance. The U.S. workforce, which grew by 54 percent from 1980 to 2000, is only expected to grow by three percent from 2000 to 2020.
Pay is a Secondary Consideration for Top Talent
During the past decades, companies have proven that you can’t win the war just by spending more. When it comes to finding and keeping employees, pay is secondary for top talent. But if you build up an outstanding reputation, people will line up to work at your organization.
You have to realize that reputation matters. People talk. Images get established. Web postings take place. Today, no organization can afford to have a bad reputation. A number of years ago, the airline industry did a study that showed that a bad experience communicated to around 300 people and a great experience was shared with only 30 or less.
The Secret Code for a Good Company Reputation
So, where do you start in order to build a positive reputation from within and without? It all begins with taking the time to uncover, identity, and understand how the team is communicating. No matter how high tech our world has become with instant messaging, email, and cell phones, the biggest problem we all have is still communication.
Companies That Communicate Well, Perform Well
A number of years ago a client of ours identified some traits they wanted members of their team to have. They were specifically looking for personality traits that led to effective communication – traits shared by most of their strongest performers.
The company realized they needed to position themselves in their narrow marketplace as the place to work. Through work style personality testing they were able to identify talent with those characteristics. They staffed the company around people who were great at communicating. These people performed well together and enjoyed the work environment immensely.
Fast forward a number of years. Consistently the company gets feedback from its recruiting team that candidates want to work for the company because they’ve heard it’s a great place to work.
Communication Characteristics to Look for
• Liveliness – spontaneous, animated, energetic
• Socially Boldness – expressive, outgoing, venturesome
• Warmth – caring, attentive, generous
• Openness to Change – free thinking, experimenter
Raise the Communication Bar with These Ideas
• Asking how someone’s weekend was or what they are planning to do over the weekend.
• Providing a helping hand for individuals to grow and improve if they would like the assistance.
• Strive to have empathy to understand where others are coming from when working on a project or if they are contributing an idea.
• Show an interest in others.
What’s the lesson here? Learn what is driving your top talent people. Build your company with people that have complementary skills and work style personalities. And remember that communication trumps everything.
Contributed by Dana Borowka, President, Lighthouse Consulting Services, and a Vistage member since 1995