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Five ways to attract good talent

by Sarah Welch, Director, JFCS Career Development Center
This article appeared as a Guest Viewpoint article in the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Our economy is the most robust it has been in nearly 50 years. As a result, many Pittsburgh industries and sectors are growing and seeing a need to hire talent. Pittsburgh companies, like companies across America, are not just looking for warm bodies; they are looking for individuals who can think well, have skills, and are able to work well with others. However, employers continue to say “I can’t find anyone to fill my open positions.”

What we’re finding is, that when unemployment is low, workers still look for growth and advancement opportunities. People are job hunting, but they are only willing to make a change if it is the right fit.

Historically, people started working for an organization after finishing their education and stayed with the same organization until retirement. They had opportunities to grow, increase their salary, and transition their daily job duties during their tenure. They also had a pension they were investing in and the longer they stayed with the company, the greater that pension would be when they retired. Companies and employees invested in one-another and were loyal to each other.

This type of loyalty is becoming a scarce commodity in today’s workplace. In the past ten to fifteen years, trends have shifted. Employees look for stepping stones and opportunities where they can learn a new skill or advance their career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds ten different jobs before age forty, and this number is projected to grow.

What can you do as an employer to attract talented individuals who are looking for a career change or advancement opportunity?

Be admirable. Look at how your company operates, how you hire, and what you invest in. Set goals to recognize employees, appreciate talent and invest in causes employees care about. Sometimes brand placements can be as important as intentionally giving-back in the community or paying staff above minimum wage.

Be flexible. Reassess your needs and create opportunities for non-traditional workers to inspire a more committed workforce. Offer flexible scheduling to allow parents to drop kids off at the bus stop. Remove the college degree as a job prerequisite and look for talent and abilities instead. Recognize the people’s lives change and that if your organization is flexible with them when they need it, they will be loyal to you.

Be Innovative. Respect the people you hired. Encourage an environment where employees are trusted and have autonomy. Allow space for staff to think creatively, reward your team for taking risks and recognize individual successes.

Be fair and transparent. Pay equitable wages across rank, gender, race, etc. to build trust between employees with the organization. Schedule annual performance reviews and raises to manage expectations and maintain fair compensation for work. Good leadership recognizes the value of equity and how it contributes to a strong fiscal bottom line.

Be respectful. Everyone deserves work-life balance. Respect people’s work hours and vacation days. Rewards commitment and hard work, and allow your employees to enjoy life outside of of the office.

Even though it is difficult to find the right people to hire, they are out there. The most important thing you can do as an organization is offer career pathways with opportunities for employees to learn, grow, and develop throughout their career. As your company sees economic expansion, make sure that everyone is engaged and benefiting from that growth.