6 Tips to Engage Top Talent & Make Them Stick

Laura Anthony


Top Talent is hard to find. As an HR professional, hiring manager, or operations leader—chances are you are feeling the squeeze from employees quitting their jobs, retiring early, or branching out on their own.

In fact, a whopping 40% of the global workforce say they might leave their current roles and even switch industries. Some refer to it as The Great Resignation, The Great Attrition, or The Great Renegotiation. You may even have your own special name for it…. Whatever you want to call it, finding the top talent you need right now is a fierce battle.

Let’s look at some proven ways to make you stickier as an organization in order to attract and retain the best talent available.

We will explore six ways to increase employee engagement—a tip for each phase of the employee value stream. We define the phases an employee journeys through as: 1) plan and align, 2) recruit and hire, 3) onboard and integrate, 4) develop and reinforce, 5) recognize and retain, and 6) succession and offboard.

How you nurture a candidate/employee in each phase will directly influence your ability to attract and retain the talent you need for a sustainable future. Let’s make today’s top talent stick to you.

TIP 1: Provide Meaning & Purpose in your Workplace

Illustration of two people talking together at a table

During the plan and align phase, candidates want to know what you’re really about. What drives your organization? When a candidate looks under your hood, do they see leaders and team members living out your why? If candidates and employees are personally aligned to your company’s mission and values, then you will attract and retain more employees. Plus, they will be more productive.

According to McKinsey researchers, “When employees feel that their purpose is aligned with the organization’s purpose, the benefits expand to include stronger employee engagement, heightened loyalty, and a greater willingness to recommend the company to others.”

Maybe your company has a clear purpose. Fantastic. Let’s go deeper. As leaders, do you foster an individual’s purpose within your organization? This takes even more intentionality. Managers should prioritize having open dialogue with team members around their sense of purpose and how it connects to the company’s big-picture purpose.

Create an environment where employees feel safe sharing their personal purpose. Listen and respond to your team members by providing opportunities for them to find more meaning in their daily work.

“Give people a reason to come to work… then they will give their blood, sweat and tears… their passion and their best work, not because they have to, but because they want to.” 

Simon Sinek

TIP 2: Build a Talent Brand that Attracts

During the recruit and hire phase, build a brand that attracts top talent. Today, candidates have hundreds of options vying for their attention. Candidates are evaluating your reputation, your culture, and literally everything about you. Candidates and employees alike are studying how you communicate over the phone, in emails, and via text. The entire candidate (and employee) experience communicates your brand. Every touchpoint matters.

Pay attention to your social media strategy. Use it to highlight your company culture, your values, and the ways you give back. Create well-crafted job descriptions written with the candidates in mind. Interview in a respectful manner, and remember it is a two-way street. Follow-up with candidates early and often and be transparent throughout the process. Too much silence can kill the candidate experience and reflects poorly on your brand.

When it comes to making an offer, do your homework. Make the offer personal and attractive to the candidate by speaking to their motivations and needs. Every detail communicates your brand and their ability to place their trust in you.

TIP 3: Onboard Well & Create a Sense of Belonging

After you hire the ideal candidate, don’t take your foot off the gas. The onboard and integrate phase is so important for employee engagement and ongoing personal satisfaction. With effective onboarding, 69% of new employees will stay for at least three years. Onboarding often includes a checklist of items that include what to expect at your company, desk and technology set-up, company swag, and time for open discussion around specific needs and questions.

Other great ideas include providing mentors, employee boot camps, scavenger hunts, fun employee handbooks, day-one contribution projects, and going out to lunch for scheduled check points.

In addition to the onboarding process, how can you make every employee feel like they genuinely belong on your team? Even with corporate DEI initiatives, people can feel like outsiders. Every employee wants to be heard, cared about, and recognized for their unique contribution. A recent McKinsey study showed that 35% listed uncaring leaders as one of their top reasons for leaving.

Work hard to listen to your employees. Support each person’s unique growth and development potential. And stay connected through positive, genuine interactions to create a real sense of belonging.

TIP 4: Create a Path Forward

During the develop and reinforce phase of the employee value stream, employees are nurtured and intentionally developed for what’s next in their career. A Pew Research survey found that 63% of the workforce left their jobs in 2021 because there were no opportunities for advancement. Sometimes small to mid-size companies struggle with offering upward mobility. Be proactive about finding ways to creatively support an individual’s progress or you may lose key contributors.

There are many ways you can create a path forward for your employees:

  • Develop an individual development plan with each employee that is reviewed regularly and acted upon.
  • Provide opportunities outside of the specific job function for growth, recognition, and advancement.
  • Make time for constructive feedback and coaching to develop each employee and build on their strengths and improve their weaknesses.
  • Offer internal training opportunities or external education, conferences, and/or resources to encourage the personal development of each employee.

Realize there may be times when you do everything right, and an employee still chooses to leave. Support their decision and advocate for them on what is best for their unique career journey.

TIP 5: Know What Motivates Your Team Members

During the recognize and retain phase of the employee life cycle, it is necessary to get to know each of your employees personally to understand what motivates them to stay. Everyone is wired differently. Three areas to explore when it comes to retaining top employees include recognition, flexibility, and work-life balance.

Meaningful recognition costs nothing but makes a huge impact on how workers feel about their contribution. According to SHRM, “79% of employees say recognition makes them work harder, and 78% say recognition makes them more productive.” This ties back to making employees feel like they add value and have meaning.

Two other areas that have grown in significance to employees are workplace flexibility and work-life balance. They are interrelated. Since the pandemic, workers have become used to flexible work arrangements including stop and start times and where they physically work.

According to ManpowerGroup, workplace flexibility is a top benefit for candidates and studies have shown it can increase efficiency and productivity with less distractions and interruptions.

A flexible workplace helps give employees a healthier work-life balance. However, not all companies (i.e., manufacturing) can be flexible with work location or hours. Explore other creative ways you can be flexible with your workers. Consider flextime, compressed workweeks, and job sharing. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Find out what motivates your employees to stay.

TIP 6: Offboard in a Positive Way

The last stage of the employee life cycle is succession planning and offboarding. Both areas are essential, but the area that often gets overlooked in the tyranny of the urgent is offboarding.

Offboarding employees well provides many benefits for both the employee and an organization. For employees, it is an opportunity to share openly why they have decided to leave. They can air any grievances and express sincere gratitude for all they learned and experienced while at your organization. It is freeing for exiting team members to bring healthy closure to a chapter in their career.

Offboarding in a positive way brings great value to your organization. It is a chance to gather both good and not-so-good feedback in an effort to continually improve. It gives you a chance to recognize an individual for their contribution with a proper farewell.

While you may feel somewhat rejected, having the employee’s best interest in mind is important. Be empathetic and encouraging and show you genuinely care about their future. When you end the employee-employer relationship, realize that other doors may open. The person leaving may become a customer someday, provide a great reference, or even return to your workforce when they realize the grass isn’t always greener.

Assess Your Organization

The war for the best talent continues to rage with no end in sight. How can you help candidates and employees stick to your organization? Assess how you are doing. Is there a tip or two you could work on? Each of these six tips will improve your stickiness as an organization.

SIX TIPS FOR ENGAGING TOP TALENT

  1. Provide Workplace Meaning and Purpose
  2. Build a Talent brand that Attracts
  3. Onboard Well and Create a Sense of Belonging
  4. Create a Path Forward
  5. Know What Motivates Your Team Members
  6. Offboard in a Positive Way

If you need help recruiting top talent or working on your talent strategy, the DISHER Talent Solutions team welcomes the opportunity to make a positive difference with your team. Connect with us today. Let’s turn the Great Resignation into the Great Retention.

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