My experience in the corporate world taught me it made sense to hire smart people and continue to give them responsibility so there was an opportunity to grow. Providing financial incentives and allowing time to pursue higher education also contributed to company loyalty. So, the question: how do you keep your most valued employees from either seeking another job, or in our age of an online presence, preventing another company from poaching your best?
LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman says “you are no longer in charge of your resume in an interconnected online world, but neither is your boss.” In the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Hoffman was interviewed for an article, Job Hunting in the Network Age, where he said the idea for LinkedIn was simple. “He wanted to take the resume digital, but that was just the beginning. As in the real world he sensed your true reputation is what of everyone else thinks of you.” He went on to say, “that your identity is now constituted by the network. You are your friends, you are your tribe, you are your interactions with your colleagues, your customers, even your competitors. All of these things come to form what your reputation is.” As paraphrased by the article’s author, Andy Kessler, “In short, you are no longer the only one in control of your resume.”
The following are my tips to retain your best talent:
1. Encourage associates to take on additional responsibility – Tell company associates to seek additional responsibilities. This will help the company and the employee feel more invigorated. But this cannot be accomplished in an environment where everyone is overworked. Having a platform of work-life balance will facilitate people wanting to learn and do more to keep themselves challenged and their minds fresh.
2. Travel to other corporate locations – Insure that your associates don’t work in a vacuum. Have managers visit various company locations to meet with others who do they same type of job. It’s one of best ways to learn. It opened up an entire new world for me when I worked in a highly structured corporate environment.
3. Continue their education – Encourage your employees to seek additional college and advanced degree courses. Bring in Lunch and Learn speakers on various subjects. Find internal associates who have become experts in their field to give periodic courses to their fellow associates. It could be workshops on exercise, nutrition, travel, six sigma, etc.
4. Foster an environment of performing volunteer or charity work – There is no better way to network and help others along the way than by giving back to those less fortunate. In general, people who like to help also make the best service oriented thinkers. Those who give of themselves make their own rewards.
5. Let associates make mistakes – The only way to grow personally and business-wise is to make mistakes. Albert Einstein said, “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” If people are afraid of what can go wrong, a level of greatness can never be achieved to give your company a competitive edge.
6. Keep them involved in your business – Share results with your staff. Let them see how your department is performing against others within the company. Competitive spirit works great in sports and it can work even more effectively in a business environment. Sometimes the devil is in the details and having staff focused will help uncover new opportunities for success.
7. Provide LinkedIn training – When I started using LinkedIn many years ago, I didn’t quite grasp the value of the tool; connections, obtaining recommendations (not endorsements), or what to include in my profile, etc. Companies should bring in outside consultants or utilize internal experts who can train their associates on how to create and maintain the ideal LinkedIn profile, connect with their network and understand the protocol of accepting invitations from people they may not know.
In my opinion, the most important and actionable component of Mr. Hoffman’s interview is included in one of his summary quotes. “ For individuals, it’s trading lifetime employment for lifetime employability. The company should invest in you to keep you employable, by always offering more training, expanding responsibility, even if you never leave. Employees, in exchange, will work to keep the company adapting and valuable and growing over the long term. Adaptive employees keep companies vibrant, but those same employees are much more likely to stay if they know they’ll get to keep adapting, gaining responsibilities and expertise.”
Treat your employees as you would your best customers and make them feel valued. Compensate them fairly. Provide them with the utmost respect. Ensure company employees have the most prolific LinkedIn profiles based on their robust experience. This might make them prey for your competitors. But, as Mr. Hoffman has suggested, your staff will appreciate how you have taught and coached them over the years and will think more than twice about leaving an environment where their contributions have been welcomed.