Guidance is needed now more than ever on how to attract superstar talent and keep them from bolting. Gallup research now indicates that an astonishing 51 percent of employees are looking for another job--an all-time high.

So maybe those long employee lunches aren't just because Chipotle was packed.

New research from talent attraction and retention thought leaders, LinkedIn, reveals just what it takes in today's workplace to win The Great Talent Wars.

Gone are the days where writing big bonus checks and primping up salary was enough. Today's workforce is more demanding--and what they're looking for may surprise you.

The underlying theme from the research centered on the importance that leaders must place on creating a positive workplace culture. 70 percent of professionals said they would not work at a leading company if they had to tolerate a toxic workplace culture. 65 percent said they'd rather put up with lower pay.

So what about that culture is most important to attract and retain talent? The research indicated three things:

1. It's not just employee well-being, it's whole well-being.

Well-being is being defined by employees more holistically than ever before. In addition to a strong benefits package, employees crave an environment where they feel they can bring their whole selves to work and that work blends with their whole lives.

This is reflected in the top three factors for generating workplace pride according to the study. 51 percent of respondents said they were proudest to work at a company that promotes flexibility, 47 percent want to be able to be themselves at work and 46 percent want to have a positive impact on society through their work. 

In addition to enabling these things as a leader, you can engage in other low-hanging fruit opportunities as well. For example, you can simply inquire about employee's well-being, role model healthy behaviors (like not visibly working excessive hours as the boss), or become more self-aware of how your behavior stresses employees out (and then moderate it).

2. Lead with values.

It's now clear that more and more of today's workforce view their jobs not as a paycheck, but as a soul-check.  They want work to be a place that's congruent with who they are, not just tolerant of who they are. An astonishing 71 percent of professionals said they'd be willing to take a pay cut if it meant they could work at a place that had a mission they believed in and a clear system of values congruent with their own.  

So be clear on your company's values. Communicate those values frequently. In doing research for Find the Fire I toured more than one company HQ with the CEO who was eager to point out where the company values were literally painted on the walls (companies, by the way, that rated as "Top Places to Work"). Such communication makes it easy for employees to connect their own personal values with those of the company.

And never underestimate the importance of values to the individual. After all, values are those little things we do each and every day that exemplifies who we are. They are the little daily impressions we leave that add up to a huge permanent impression. And we have a choice each and every day to live in support of, or in spite of, our values. Foster the former in your employees.

3. Bolster belongingness.

It surprised me that the number one factor that keeps employees at a job for five years or more was whether or not that employee experienced a sense of belongingness ("working in a place they feel they can be themselves at").

Perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised when considering neuroscience research. It turns out that the deep-seated need we have for a sense of belongingness is managed by the same exact neural networks that are used for primary survival needs such as food and water. That's how fundamental the need for belonging is to a person (and employee).

As stated in the LinkedIn study, "Cultivating an environment where all employees feel like they belong is the secret weapon for retention".

As a leader, it takes an intentional approach. Create opportunities for employees to form social bonds. Excel at showing gratitude and establish effective mentor programs. Work hard at showing others they're valued and craft a sense of shared history or help employees to identify with relevant company history. Create a sense of pride in the company.

What kept your mom or dad at their company isn't exactly the same as what attracts and retains today's workforce. But with careful planning and diligence, your workplace can soon feel like a family, too.

Published on: Jul 17, 2018
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