If you want to outcompete your competitors, you need to be willing to pay top dollar for people with in-demand skills. Easier said than done, though. ManpowerGroup, the global workforce solutions company, released their latest research findings showing that 45 percent of small businesses can't find the skills they want. It's worse for large organizations: 67 percent report talent shortages in their search.

Top talent, though, is looking for more than great pay. If you can woo a top pick to your company, you must also already be actively shaping, pruning, and evolving your culture. If, as a company, you are under-investing in your culture you will lose the skilled people you need. A high performer making good money will only tolerate a lousy culture for a limited time and then will leave.

While pay is indeed a top consideration, today's workers also value flexible work arrangements, growth and advancement opportunities, and managers who are competent and open. What do you notice about these three employment expectations? Each of them is part of your culture.

Investing in Your Culture

No matter the maturity of your company, investing in your culture needs to be a top priority. The priority is not one that is owned by HR; it needs to be a priority for everyone. After all, the human interactions and decisions happen in both the micro-moments through to the major initiatives. What's more, investing in your company's culture and expecting positive outcomes requires intention.

So, if you're culture was built by a "wing and a prayer" or artfully evolved, the following culture investments are some solutions to help you to stop under-investing in culture.

Establish a Like-Family Mindset

At Barry-Wehmiller, "a global supplier of manufacturing technology and services," with revenues at several billion dollars, the culture is built upon a family mindset. CEO, Bob Chapman, intentionally sets the tone that people come first. He also follows and expects everyone else to adhere to a leadership model that understands this simple belief: achieve business success by improving employees' lives. A like-family mindset is informed by the company's Guiding Principles of Leadership. The leadership intention is "We measure success by the way we touch the lives of people."

Show You Value People's Contribution

Doug Conant, the former Campbell Soup CEO, is known, in part, for the thousands of thank you notes he hand wrote. It was a daily practice for Conant. When employees feel valued and recognized for high performance, they will want to continue to show up and do their best work. A culture of caring is not one that is nice. Instead, it is one that marries empathy, compassion, and high-performance expectations.

This YouTube video shows the gratitude employees felt receiving one of Conant's notes.

Constantly Focus on Clarity

At Menlo Innovations, a software development company based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a small-business, all employees meet for a daily stand-up meeting. All 50+ employees, including the founders, stand in a circle and briefly share updates about projects or announcements. The quick gathering helps everyone know what his or her teammates are working on and assists team members with seeing how their projects are connected.

As a fun bonus, Menlo Innovation's unofficial mascot, a Viking helmet with two horns, is passed around the big circle. Since everyone is paired with a colleague each week, together, each pair gives an update and then gives the clever "talking stick" to the next pairing.

When something is valued and leaves people feeling good, we talk about it, excitedly and enthusiastically. Positive workplace cultures are something current employees share with their friends--online and offline. Moreover, in today's fight for top talent, you need a talent strategy that also focuses on your culture. Does it need to be costly? No. The three examples above cost very little: time and perhaps some training.

Let me say it again: The financial investment in attracting top talent must also include investing in your company's culture. Think of the two as pairs that cannot deliver value if separated.

Published on: Jul 12, 2018