As talent wars heat up, many companies look within to figure out how to make themselves a best place to work. Some envy the tech giants who seem to have great candidates show up at their doorstep, but the truth is you don’t have to be Twitter, Google or a Facebook to have an awesome work environment. While compensation will undoubtedly play a role in the type of talent your company can attract, it turns out people want more than a top salary and a kick butt 401 (K) plan.
“A lot of things go into making a company a great place to work for,” says Larry Keim, a human resources consultant out of Harlingen, Texas. “Many of them have great pay, tremendous benefits and a work environment to die for.”
According to human resources experts the first ingredient in creating an environment that makes people want to work there is having a pay scale that is competitive and enables employees to do their jobs without worrying about how they are going to survive. “Money is not an issue when they are making enough money to cover their basic needs,” says Susan Heathfield, About.com Guide to Human Resources. If their salary isn’t meeting their basic needs than money will be the number one issue, she says.
If compensation is in line with industry norms and the retirement package is up to snuff, having a workplace that respects employees, values their opinions and treats them like adults will not only have a positive impact on morale and productivity but will make it a place people want to work. In companies where people are told what to do and are micro managed morale is usually low and employees are unhappy, says Heathfield. People want to work in places where they are part of the decision making, are in control of their own job, won’t be demeaned or face negative consequences for offering up ideas and know they can grow their career.
Quality of life also matters and is one of the major factors that make some companies better to work for than others. According to Pat Sweeney, human resource manager at Old Colony Hospice and Palliative Care, having flexible scheduling that enables employees to balance work and life will go a long way in breeding loyalty and creating a reputation of a great company to work for. As will recognizing employees accomplishments and rewarding them whenever possible. “I always encourage staff appreciation and frequent thank yous,” says Sweeney, who can claim a turnover rate of less than 1% in the last six years she’s been heading up human resources. “You always want to be available if someone feels he or she is not being valued.” According to Heathfield employees want the ability to slip out for doctor’s appointments without getting docked pay or being frowned upon. “You want to be a company that understands that employees are also parents, also philanthropist, also volunteers and everything else they do and support that,” she says.
While the days of the dot.com boom are long gone where perks like free massages were the norm, depending on the industry you operate in you may have to offer perks to stay competitive and attractive to job seekers. Take Heathfield, whose company competes in the technology industry. Employees get free beverages and snacks, have free lunches every Friday and family activities are sponsored every month. Heathfield says the perks are partly because some things are expected in the technology industry and also because it’s a way to show employees you care. “It makes employees feel part of something bigger,” she says.
No matter how much you pay, what perks you offer, or how amazing your retirement package is, at the end of the day if people don’t respect what you are doing whether it’s offering a service or selling a product it’s going to be hard to attract top notch talent. People want to work somewhere they can be proud of and they want to feel they are part of something that is making a difference. “If you believe strongly in what the company is doing whether it’s a service or product that’s attractive,” says Sweeney.
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