Arguably, the two most important aspects of a company are its employees and its customers. In the current business environment, the former, for many, has become the trickier element to navigate — attracting, recruiting and retaining employees can set the bar of the company’s performance.
We had the same problem as everyone last year and were able to identify some concepts and ideas to navigate our recruiting issues while we grew 59 percent.
Attracting talent was and is critical to our success. Prospects are evaluating a major life decision when they choose a job, so naturally they heavily weigh an employer’s intangibles. I think we offer a lot in that area.
During the COVID era and the unprecedented worker shortage, we struggled to build our workforce at the needed rate. We started with a task force for recruitment and retention. Every worker we could retain was a hire we did not have to make. Needing to hire for positions at all levels, I brought together my HR manager, plant manager and marketing manager to form a plan. We believed there were candidates out there; we were just not attracting our share.
For our first step, we created a matrix identifying the reasons a prospective employee would want to work for us. Some were already in place, others were aspirational. We ultimately identified 64 items in the matrix. We also tried many nontraditional methods of getting the word out about the opportunities we offered.
Our culture and core values are what bubbled to the top. Wages, benefits, a growing company, bright future, educational opportunities, etc. are all just table stakes in today’s labor market. Our intangibles are what set us apart. It is hard to separate our culture and our core values — one begat the other. We live our values. They are not window dressing. When we have alignment in our values with a new employee (the same goes for new customers), long lasting, mutually profitable relationships are the result. I often hear from my colleagues at all levels that our values and the way we live them are a top reason they were attracted to the company. This is not an accident. We hire for cultural fit, not just job skills.
We also have forged and foster very close partnerships with community and nonprofit organizations. They act as our ambassadors and fans in conversations with prospects that we are not in on a daily basis. We also cultivate these relationships with other influencers. We had to build really strong relationships with recruiting partners so they understood what was important to us; it wasn’t just a need for a warm body.
And we have a very generous referral program, heavily tied to retention. It is very successful. After all, birds of a feather …
We are a high-growth, high-performance company, and people are inherently attracted to winners.
Our location helps us, too. We are a manufacturer located in the inner city. Our neighborhood traditionally has higher unemployment than the surrounding, more affluent areas.
Building our team has been and continues to be the most gratifying aspect of my long career. However, doing so has required putting in the time to design a recruiting strategy that highlights what working here means, which is much more than just earning a paycheck. ●
Steve Peplin is CEO of Talan Products