by Pete Davis
With the economy improving and hiring picking up, the job market is shifting back in favor of the job-seeker. Candidates who two years ago would have been eager to accept virtually any quality offer now have the luxury of stepping back to evaluate a number of attractive employment options.
In an increasingly competitive market, traditional incentives such as salary scale and benefits packages alone are not going to cut it. To differentiate your company and attract the top performing A-players who will take your company to the next level, you need to focus on your culture. Crafting a powerful, engaging culture that truly captures and promotes your company’s goals not only boosts hiring, but it also helps you keep the talent you already have.
The question is how?
Look in the mirror
Before you can begin leveraging your professional culture as a hiring and retention asset, you need to make sure you know who you are. Drill past the fluff to identify substantial and unique core values that truly capture your essence. Your professional culture is not your mission statement—it is your mission. It is what drives everything your company does day in and day out. Forgo vague values like “integrity” or “honesty”; these are “pay to pay” values, qualities an employer expects every candidate to possess. Instead, dig deeper to home in on the essential traits that distinguish your organization.
Spread the word
Once you have your unique core values set, live them and make sure your employees—both current and potential—are too. Ask questions based on your core values in interviews and gauge responses based on how the candidate’s views and motivations seem to match your company’s values. Remember the adage “hire slow, fire fast”—take the time to ensure the person you are interviewing is truly a good fit, and one who will excel within and strengthen your operations.
Make value judgments
Part of living your core values and making them resonate with your team is incorporating those values into measurement and reward programs. Consider starting “core value” awards that enable you or your employees to recognize their colleagues for embodying them. Create incentive programs that underline your values. If “thirst for knowledge” is a core value, consider subsidizing continuing education programs or covering the attendance costs for industry events. And ensure that you are measuring your team based on your values. If you say “” is a value, but you are measuring your employees based solely on individual performance, you are working against yourself.
Pete Davis is founder and CEO of Southfield, Mich.-based ImpactServices, a leader in premium staff management and professional search solutions: www.theimpactanswer.com.