Six strategies for attracting talent

Even as layoffs mount and unemployment rises, the competition for top talent is fierce.

Every organization needs and wants to attract and retain the best and the brightest — the smart people who are oriented toward growth and achievement.

Here are six strategies that can help employers ensure they have the best talent working for them:

1. Hook new hires to A+ managers
We’ve all heard the quote: “People join organizations and leave managers.” A study by McKinsey, entitled “The War for Talent 2000” cites the importance of working for great managers. About 85 per cent of employees who worked for an under-performing manager said that, “It made them want to leave the company.” To attract talent, selecting and promoting outstanding managers is one of the most important challenges.

2. Provide work-life flexibility
According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, Inc., the majority (61 per cent) of job seekers sought career opportunities with companies that were flexible, supportive and understanding of personal and family needs. Work-life balance issues are major contributors to employees leaving organizations. Boomers, Gen Xers and GenYs want a life.

3. Challenge employees’ creativity
Today’s most talented workers don’t want jobs that offer them stock options, but careers that challenge and enable them to be creative, according to a study by Decision Partners. The study, commissioned by IBM, found that the fastest way for a company to lose young talent is to bore them. As such, employers must push and challenge their young employees during their first two to five years with the company to ensure they do not get bored and start job shopping.

4. Offer ongoing opportunities for personal and professional development
Top talent is very concerned about opportunities to learn and grow. Most companies incorporate professional development and educational assistance programs into recruitment and retention efforts. An investment in training and development sends a strong message that management cares about employees, believes their potential is worth developing, wants them to grow and aims to promote internally to fill key positions.

5. Link business results to daily activities
Leaders must communicate the organization’s mission and strategies. Employees want to see that their work makes a difference and contributes to the mission and strategies. Motivated employees want to see how their daily activities and decisions contribute to the health and viability of the organization. They can’t, if they don’t know the mission and strategies.

6. Recognize and reward accomplishments
A survey of business students, conducted by the online job board, asked respondents to rate the importance of 35 job attributes. The study found recruits are looking for organizations that value what they can do. Companies often boost salaries and bonuses, but study after study shows that what best motivates employees are less tangible rewards such as personal recognition for a job well done.

Caela Farren is president of MasteryWorks, Inc., an Annandale, Va.-based firm specializing in attraction, retention and employee development. She is also the author of Who’s Running Your Career? She may be reached at 1-800-259-5712 or by visiting

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