Ask any entrepreneur to explain his or her biggest struggle, and you’ll hear one answer more often than any other – finding and retaining the best talent. Let’s face it, at the end the day, the only real competitive advantage amongst all businesses is the people.
Of course, finding and keeping star employees has always been a struggle. However, the problem is more prevalent than ever as younger generations enter the workforce. Gone are the days of joining a company as an entry-level employee and staying at that same company for their entire career. Instead, today’s workforce is choosing to climb the career ladder by switching companies more frequently.
This shift in workforce behavior is actually a positive thing for employees looking for a wide range of experiences and avenues to hone their knowledge and talents. However, it also creates an undesirable predicament for business owners. High turnover can wreak havoc on a company and create oodles of problems that quickly spiral out of control: weak company culture, negative impact on productivity, and loss of the company’s investment in employees.
This trend isn’t going to disappear any time soon. So, entrepreneurs are basically left with two options: 1. Fight the trend. 2. Leverage the trend.
Numerous studies are showing that both the younger generation of workers, as well as many of the workers who were forced into career change during the recent economic fallout, are seeking companies and opportunities which offer a well-defined purpose. Many professionals are no longer satisfied with simply earning a paycheck. They no longer view work as somewhere they must be for a good portion of their day, but instead a place that allows them opportunities to make a difference in the world—a difference that has meaning to them.
How can entrepreneurs leverage this trend?
I call the solution “purpose-based recruiting.” When communicated correctly during the interview process and any recruitment efforts, purpose-based recruiting not only reveals that your company cares about an individual’s success, shows opportunities for growth, and empowers people to hone their passion. It also filters out potential hires who might be simply looking for just a quick paycheck.
As the owner of a business that is focused on purpose-based recruiting, I see how businesses are missing the big-picture element when hiring new employees. The great thing is most businesses already have a strong vision of how they hope to make an impact in the world; they simply need to fine-tune and communicate that message more effectively to new recruits.
Follow the below steps for successful purpose-based recruiting:
1. Start with the founder. For nearly all businesses, the founder’s original vision serves as the fabric of what the company is today. If the founder is no longer in the picture, go to the owner/CEO or executive team. Establish what the business stands for and what the future looks like. Write down key messages, and use these as talking points when hiring. In essence, find a unique purpose that the team can align with professionally.
2. Recruit based on goals. When companies post for job openings, it’s usually a laundry list of skills a person must possess in order to apply for the position. Why not take a different approach and hire based on what that person hopes to accomplish professionally? As small business owners, we are so focused on finding the right person based on skillset and forget some of the most important elements – finding someone who is a perfect culture fit, has the potential to grow, embodies the company brand and shares the business’ mission. While finding individuals like this may seem impossible for many entrepreneurs, it’s much more manageable if the company has clearly defined purpose.
3. Ask the right questions. A company’s and individual’s goals must be synchronistic. The next step is to uncover as much information about the individual during the interview beyond the skillset. What are their career goals? What are they looking for in a company? What motivates and excites them? Discovering their professional passion and purpose can help you determine if they will be a good ambassador of your brand.
4. Communicate the company’s vision. Knowing that today’s employee cares significantly about making a difference, it is important to outline the company’s purpose and goals early in the interview. It must be made clear that finding individuals who align with a company’s purpose and believe in their goals is essential as well. Job candidates will hopefully make a decision early on if they will be satisfied working at your company.
5. Foster growth after hiring. Communicating a company’s grand vision should not be limited to the interview process. All employees should feel like they have a stake in the company’s success and are working toward a common goal. As a part of the post-hiring process, managers should stay in close contact with new employees to be sure they are working toward their professional goals and in turn, keeping with the overall company goals. Existing employees can use refreshers too. Communicate big wins for the company, be transparent about new opportunities and challenges and provide check points – quarterly or annually – to show how the company is achieving goals.
Like I mentioned before. Companies have the option to either fight the new trend, or leverage it. I strongly encourage hiring managers and entrepreneurs to evaluate the recruiting process and make sure it aligns with this behavior shift we’re seeing in the workforce. Purpose-based recruiting will help your business enormously. Not only will you see higher retention, but employees will be more productive and happy because they are working toward their professional purpose.
Max Hansen is the CEO and co-owner of Y Scouts, a recruiting firm that focuses on helping individuals discover their professional passion and connect them with a like-minded company. Hansen is also the membership chair for Entrepreneurs’ Organization Arizona, a dynamic group of 150 of Arizona’s most successful entrepreneurs. To learn more about EO Arizona and its mentorship program, visit www.eoaz.org.