For years, those of us in technology have been dealing with an acute talent shortage that has too often impacted our ability to grow our companies. The competition to hire technologists grew particularly urgent during the first year of the pandemic when companies were scrambling to move their business operations online. The situation became so dire that I discussed it in my previous article and shared how to handle it when others are actively trying to woo your employees away.
Of course, today it seems that the employee shortage has spread to many, if not most, industries in what is being called the Great Resignation. For a number of reasons, right now there just aren’t enough workers to go around across wide swaths of the economy.
Recruiting and retaining employees continue to be a primary focus for most of us in HR — and they will be for the foreseeable future. And surprisingly, when my leadership team and I brainstorm the most effective way to keep our great employees and attract more like them, we identified a simple method that doesn’t get much attention. It’s not money or benefits or bonuses.
The best way to keep your employees — and ultimately attract others like them — is to make sure they love your organization. At my company, one of our business objectives is to make sure our employees feel inspired, confident and cared for.
Now I am suggesting we go one step further. As important as it is that our employees are inspired by their work, my team and I believe there is value in making sure that our employees feel an emotional connection to our company itself as well.
Of course, all jobs are occasionally frustrating or difficult. But employees who love to come to work, who respect their company and feel an emotional connection to it, are not only more likely to stay longer, but also to encourage others they know to join the company.
With this in mind, I asked my team what company leaders and HR organizations can do to help encourage employees to love their company. Here are some of their responses:
Create An Environment Where Employees Can Truly Be Themselves
This was a consistent response, and I support it wholeheartedly. As one member of my own HR team said, “I love that I can be myself, human and imperfect, while feeling included and valued — even on my worst days. I love that we as an organization put that into practice with our colleagues.”
Embrace And Reward Constant Learning
Every industry and every company has its own culture and has to find effective ways to connect with its employees. For technologists, career-long learning is especially important. More often than not, they search for roles that encourage them to explore and discover. And if they get bored, they will begin looking over the next horizon. One of my colleagues expressed this with poetry that will speak to many of my company’s employees: “From the early days of creating fire to the exploration of the oceans, from first taking to the sky to rocketing into space, humans want to discover things. What are we encouraging our employees to discover?”
Some of the ways we do this are mixing up assignments, encouraging curiosity, and sponsoring hackathons and companywide innovation contests. We celebrate when our teams find new and innovative ways to delight our clients. As one person put it, “I love that the people I work with challenge me to be better every day. I love seeing ideas turn into reality.”
Choose Transparency Whenever Possible
We live in noisy times, in both our business and personal lives. Every day, the news and social media explode with more information or conjecture than we can absorb, and too often, we don’t know who to believe. By being as upfront and honest with employees as possible, we can build a culture of trust, one that pays off when times get tough.
We have found this to be particularly important during the pandemic. Like most companies, when the pandemic first hit, we had to dramatically change how we worked. Because we are a global company, impacts were different from country to country, but our employees needed to know that we stood with them as they cared for themselves, their families and their communities. This has continued to be a bedrock company principle. Now, I believe our employees trust us when we tell them what our vaccination policies are and why. We have demonstrated our commitment to them and their well-being.
My Final Piece Of Advice
One more strategy I recommend is this: Create a company purpose that inspires. I have talked about this before. My company’s purpose is “to create a genuine human impact.” On the surface, we are a technology consulting company. At the same time, we incorporate our purpose into the work we do for our clients and for nonprofits, the way we mentor and coach the upcoming generation of technologists, the way we actively support the diversity of our employees and how we support our communities.
As the head of HR for a global organization, almost every day I hear how proud an employee is of their team or our company. I see the recruitment numbers when an employee recommends our company to someone. I see our company leaders stepping up to provide the type of authentic leadership that reflects our company values and purpose. At the core of it all is an emotional connection, a bond of mutual responsibility, that adds meaning to how we spend our work lives.
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