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How to Win the 'War for Talent'

Sustainable business author Andrew Winston says recruiting and hiring the best young workers often boils down to developing the right company culture.
Encouraging employees to bike to work will help them reduce their carbon footprint.

Still having trouble finding the right people to hire, despite the rocky job market? That wouldn't surprise Andrew Winston, a former Boston Consulting Group employee and environmental business strategy author.

There's a "war for talent," Winston told an audience at the World Innovation Forum in New York this week.

Even with high unemployment, companies are having trouble hiring top talent.  "It's about a match of skills," Winston told Inc. after his presentation. With jobs becoming increasingly more technical, he said, American companies are suffering from a lack of domestic, technical talent.

Company culture is key to attracting workers, he said, especially for those new to the workforce. And Winston argues that the cultural shift that will most effectively attract young workers is an emphasis on sustainability and "green" corporate policy.

"Millennials don't have any loyalty," Winston said in his talk. Rather, he argued, people under 30 want to work for companies whose corporate philosophy reflects their own beliefs, rather than stay at a company for many years.

Winston also argued that small and medium-size businesses have the best opportunity to attract great talent, because they have the flexibility to change more quickly, offering workers a more dynamic, innovative environment.

That cultural shift toward innovation--not just sustainability--is critical, suggests Inc. columnist Paul Spiegelman, founder of the Beryl Companies and a frequent commentator on issues related to company culture.

"The younger generation wants something more. They’re realizing that their work should be something more than just a paycheck,” Spiegelman told Inc. “The employers that let their employees pursue their personal vision will have the best chance of attracting talent,” he said.

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Last updated: Jun 22, 2012

JOHN MCDERMOTT | Staff Writer

John McDermott is a business and culture reporter whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Playboy and on AOL.com. He recently moved from Chicago to Brooklyn, New York, to work for Inc.com.




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