Mike Stephenson, an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in Vancouver, is co-founder and CEO of addy, which uses the principles of crowdfunding to make real estate investing accessible to everyone. We asked Mike about his experience with retaining employees during The Great Resignation. Here's what he shared.

As a leader, there's one job application I'll never forget: Instead of the typical cover letter, one programmer submitted a poem linking our company's core values to his personal characteristics. Needless to say, he got the job.

Of course, today's job market is drastically different. 

In 2021, more than 38 million Americans quit their jobs. Workers stopped settling for "good enough" to find jobs they loved. 

As an employer, it's enough to make you wonder if you'll ever see a creative application again.

But in the wake of The Great Resignation, something profoundly unexpected has happened in our company: Job applicants have never been stronger. In fact, in the midst of a recent hiring push I've seen more enthusiastic, skilled, and values-aligned candidates than ever before. 

What's propelling these quality applicants at a time of record employment vacancies? Our purpose. With a renewed focus on finding work that is both personally and professionally fulfilling, more than ever job candidates seek to align with their employer's values. So forget inflated salaries and craft beer on tap, if you want to find top talent in an employees' market, add these three things to your HR playbook:

Create an Environment Where Employees Can Be Themselves

Recently we interviewed a candidate who confessed he'd lied on his resume. He used a "westernized" name to land more interviews than he would with his real, Indonesian name. As leaders, we must create the conditions for people to show up as their authentic selves at work. 

Unfortunately the data supports our candidate's observation. Unconscious racism, ageism, ableism, and sexism are biases that impact who gets hired

To combat bias, our company moved from having applications go through one person to a panel of eight. This expanded lens has diversified our interview candidates. As a result, we've achieved close to 50 percent self-identified female employees--a target that's unfortunately under-achieved in our industry of tech. 

Job-seekers value an inclusive company culture, and employers benefit too. Research shows inclusive workplaces are six times more likely to innovate, and employees who feel they can be themselves at work are 42 percent more likely to stay.

Now that most workers expect their employer's values to align with their own, it's a red flag if they must stifle themselves to get hired. 

Think About the Lifespan of Your Employees' Careers

The workforce traditionally over-emphasizes the importance of university education. But learning doesn't end on campus. I'd argue that insatiable curiosity is more valuable than any educational achievement. 

Some of our key programmers didn't have much related education when we hired them. But their desire to constantly learn and grow beyond the confines of their job makes them integral to our business. Instead of judging someone's level of education, consider instead how open they are to learning and how you can best facilitate that over their career lifespan. 

The desire for career growth is at an all-time high. Eighty percent of people planning to switch jobs post-pandemic said it's because they're worried about career advancement. The more confident employees are in achieving their career objectives, the more likely they are to stay.

Help Your Team Help Others 

Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory explains what motivates behavior. Physiological needs such as shelter and safety are at the base of the pyramid while transcendence at the top

The idea is that people haven't reached their highest potential until they're able to look outside themselves and serve others. In the workplace, employees should be valued not just for their own performance, but for how they impact others. 

This principle is partly why every employee at our company receives a five-minute journal. We encourage team members to write down affirmations, gratitude, and improvements daily. Mindfulness and gratitude are benefits, but reflection helps build self-actualization, the prerequisite to transcendence. 

When you've transcended, you seek to create meaning outside of yourself. Research shows that mentorship is key to entrepreneurial success. But more meaningful work benefits everyone. Employees who live their purpose at work are more resilient, perform better work, and are more likely to go above and beyond, and studies show that a helping culture builds a better company. 

The Great Resignation is a wake-up call for employers, but it's also an opportunity. Indeed, we're on the right track. The number of workers who say they're completely satisfied at work has soared in the past 20 years. Last year, 89 percent of Americans were completely or somewhat satisfied. 

As we transform business culture to allow people to bring their whole selves while contributing and leading, we ultimately create opportunities for everyone to be the best versions of themselves both in and outside of work.