How to attract top talent and increase employee retention in 2021

The search for talent has never been more hot than it is now. And, as younger generations join the workforce, they’re changing the standards, expectations and patterns of the career world.

To put that in perspective, take a look at these statistics:

The workforce majority is about to shift to the younger generations, requiring workplace dynamics to adapt. Pew Research says Millennials surpassed Boomers in 2019 by numbering 72.1 million, with Boomers numbering 71.6 million. Millennials and Gen Z will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. 

What’s so different about these younger workers? Expectations.

Here are three major shifts coming to the working world:

  1. A company’s mission and social impact matters to employees of the Gen X,  Millennial and Gen Z generations. 
  2. Recent graduates want flexibility in their careers, to be able to shift between roles and explore new things.
  3. Communication is different for younger employees who often don’t prefer communicating by email, but instead my social media or workplace apps.

So how can your business increase employee retention in 2021? Follow these steps:

Source: Pew Research Center

Employer branding: Focus on how your employees see you

People want to work for companies that matter, with missions that matter, for causes that matter. So, figure out why your company matters and brand your company that way.

This means building a consistent identity for the company in a way that is understood and experienced by employees. It’s an offshoot of your outward-facing branding, with a totally different goal: make your team happy.

According to LinkedIn, 80% of talent acquisition leaders say that a company’s employer branding affects the type of talent they can acquire.

Even more important, 92% of people would consider changing jobs if offered a role with a company with an excellent corporate reputation (CR Magazine). 

These statistics in mind, establishing an inward-facing identity requires creating a culture and identity that people enjoy being part of.  This can happen in multiple ways, by creating environments that consider the lives of employees. 

Take, for example, Salesforce, which recently declared the 9-to-5 workday a thing of the past. Now, they’re letting their employees choose whether or not they’ll return to the office (and how often), along with adjusting their schedules to meet needs – like picking up children from school or maintaining responsibilities at home.

Make your company matter: Be a thought leader in your industry

Establishing a strong voice as a company, one that is relevant and recognizable within your industry, will only go further to solidify the brand’s reputation. Becoming a thought leader in an industry means your brand is positioned as an expert in the field, and therefore, those searching for jobs will seek out those high-level places of employment.

Becoming a thought leader can be a targeted goal for CEOs in particular, who should be working to be thought-leaders on their own along with promoting their companies. When CEOs are known in their industry, this builds trust not only in their personal brand but in their company as well. You want to become the expert on x, y or z issue, and communicate that in a clear and consistent way.

CEOs are the natural figurehead of a brand and a natural place for trustworthiness to be established. This goes beyond CEOs becoming celebrity-like figures, and moves more toward how leadership communicates the values of a company.

This can be initiated in responses to current events, commentary on issues within or outside of the company, and direction that establishes shows employees (and clients, in turn) the value system of the company from top to bottom.

While money is certainly important for employees, they also want jobs that give them identity and jobs that show that they are among the top-most thinkers in the industry.

Practically, this looks like generating content and growing an audience (even if it’s a small audience) within your industry. For a business to be a thought leader, they need a team to produce accessible and shareable information for others to learn from. 

Wondering if your brand is a thought-leader? Consider these questions:

  • Are you creating new content about subjects relevant to your industry on regular basis?
  • Have you gone to all efforts to make sure your content is accessible to those who want to read it, like sharing it on multiple platforms?
  • Have you collaborated with other thought-leaders to build a network of leadership in your industry? 

Show your employees they matter by meeting them where they are

Does this feel cheesy? If you answered yes, then you’re missing out. As mentioned before, employers will do better if they communicate with their employees on the platforms and in the ways that those employees prefer.

Here’s what that looks like. First, figure out systems that maximize employee communication and stay away from email, most people prefer it that way according to the statistics. This also has the added benefit of making communication – since many of us are working remotely – more personal, where chats feel more familiar and comfortable to the generations who grew up communicating via text and messaging.

On top of that, meet employees where they are by interacting with them on social media. This can happen in two ways. First, in a very literal sense, interact with them on social media – LinkedIn is great for this because you can maintain the professional relationship most people prefer to keep with their bosses, while also interacting on a social platform.

Related Post: Building Trust in the B2B space

This can be interacting with their posts, or tagging them in company-wide posts when they have contributed to a project that you are promoting.

In that vein, highlight those employees for their work and share their projects.

Yes, this contributes to overall employee satisfaction because it meets an individual’s need to feel significant, but also it showcases your company or brand as one built on a star-studded team. In terms of acquisition, this drives potential talent and new hires to apply because it actualizes that desire to be a part of something significant, and to know your place in it.

How to build your employer brand

It’s similar to your externally-facing brand: you need to know your company’s identity. This begins with clear communication from start to finish. Who are you? What do you offer the world? What’s the overarching mission? What are the daily step-by-step movements that work together to achieve that mission? Who’s on the team?

Figure out the answers to these questions and communicate them clearly: on your website, on your social media, in your brand communications, in the language your company uses everyday.

This language and branding needs to filter down from the top of the company, from leadership, to the bottom. Familiarize your leadership with the language, ideology and identity that you’re working to communicate with prospective talent.

Don’t be tone deaf. Keep your company relevant by interacting not only on the platforms where your prospective and existing employees already participate, but add another layer by staying in-tune with what’s going on in the world.

Companies that have adjusted due to the pandemic, like Salesforce and others, have done this well. They’ve stayed in-tune with their current employees by adapting their work expectations to the needs of their employees in a year when everything has changed. 

Another way companies can build their employer brand is through – you guessed it – social media. How can your company interact online, and showcase what you do online, so that it’s relevant on social media? 

If you want more insight on building trust and becoming a thought leader, call us, that’s what we do.

ABOUT SHAMA HYDER

She is the founder & CEO of Zen Media. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.

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