Tue, Oct

Are you a contender?

To attract and retain good digital talent you’re going to have to deal with more obviously strong competition. James Crawford, managing director of PR Agency One, gets you battle fit.

1. Be successful

That old cliché “success attracts success” just happens to be true. Your company might well be successful, but do those you want to attract know that? An organisation without the confidence to tell the market how great they are, will be overlooked. If you can’t convince a potential employee why they should want to work for you in under 30 seconds, you may have a problem.

2. Take care of your brand

A positive employer brand is crucial if you want to attract and retain the best people. Do you want those who want to work in a fun environment, or a cool one? Does your brand represent that to the outside world?

3. Make the right contacts

Generally speaking recruiters are about as well liked as estate agents. A reputation for charging through the nose in commission, and poaching your staff for other clients is well earned by some. But by no means all. All things being equal, recruiters are more likely to give their best candidates to the people they actually like - or the ones that pay them the best! - such is life.

So offer to pay a commission, but don’t be shy in telling them everybody else would have haggled them down and remind them whenever you get the chance, that you’re a good payer for their services.

Like your employees, it’s important your recruiter gets what your company brand is about. So tell them over, and over, and over again.

4.Pay up

Don’t low ball people. The best of the talent knows what they’re worth and if you want them to work for you, you’d better be prepared to pay. That’s not to say you should push your budget to breaking point. Make sure you benchmark your salaries against the industry. It’s not hard to find out what your competitors are paying!

Offering higher wages will certainly get more CVs on your desk, but it should also get the right CVs on your desk. Offering clear, transparently awarded bonuses also helps attract the best talent, but be warned, some staff will come to expect their annual bonus, rather than view it as reward for good work.

5.Offer better benefits

Employee benefits are more important to some employees than others, and the attraction of specific offerings waxes and wanes so it’s something you need to keep up with. Look at what IT-specific companies are offering to see what you need to offer to compete with them. Continually review a range of KPIs like free breakfasts, leadership development programmes, personal wellbeing schemes etc. And don’t underestimate the value of a good working climate – publicise good working conditions and camaraderie.

6.Create a compassionate culture

Life can be difficult and unpredictable, particularly for younger employees. Developing a genuinely compassionate relationship with employees make everyone’s life much easier – and makes your company more attractive.

Employees look for employers that take the time to care about the emotional and social culture of their workplace, and this pays dividends down the line. Ask yourself: do you have an inclusive management style? Are your managers approachable or do they skirt on the edges of tyranny? Does the account team get on with content team? How do the range of personalities complement each other? Is late night working expected, or an exception?

7.Preview and review

A specific performance management process is attractive to staff. There are thousands of articles (like this one from the CIPD at: http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/factsheets/performance-management-overview.aspx) on implementing best practice.

In my first job I worked for an organisation that was recognised by Investors in People. I spent my early PR years doing media relations for Investors in People UK, so the rights and wrongs in workplace development were not hidden from me. I can say with confidence that going through the Investors in People process is worthwhile.

8.Train to retain

Many employees consider working for a company based on how it will develop them down the line so flag up graduate recruitment programmes, induction training, on-the-job in-house training programmes, and any sponsored external options on offer.

9.Battle staff attrition

Do you undertake exit interviews? What do you do with the knowledge? Many companies focus on recruitment and retention comes a poor second, but if you have a high attrition rate you need to understand why or you’re likely to continue in that same vein.

10.On a personal note...

Be honest, are you a passive aggressive control freak? If that sounds familiar, then be sure that your staff don’t enjoy working for you. When they leave (notice I didn’t say if) recruiting new candidates will be harder as your reputation spreads. “Do unto others…” you get the point.

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