Michelle Ubben
Michelle Ubben

Nearly half (47 percent) of US CEOs see the lack of talent as the biggest threat to their company’s future plans, according to the Worldcom Confidence Index 2018 survey of C-suite executives. Only six percent identified the available talent pool as a source of optimism.

While we are enjoying a historically low unemployment rate, the flipside of that good economic news is that we are in a period of too many jobs and not enough workers, especially qualified workers.

As a consequence, 2018 is shaping up to be the Year of the Employee, with CEOs identifying employees as their second most important target audience – right after customers – and 20% of top executives putting employees first. 

Meaningfully engaging employees pays big dividends. Gallup reports that companies in the top quartile of employee engagement reap 10% higher customer metrics, 17% higher productivity, 20% higher sales, and 21% higher profitability. And they’re more likely to attract talent in the first place.

Engagement means moving away from a top-down management structure and actively involving employees in defining and creating your culture. Here’s an example of how younger professionals help define the culture at our firm.

Innovative Efforts to Attract Talent

Here in Florida’s capital, the Talent Lives Here initiative aims to convert the great young talent produced by our universities into workers who put down roots in Tallahassee. Sachs Media Group is an enthusiastic participant in the Tally Chamber Job Hop to support that effort. 

Statewide, the Florida Chamber Foundation’s upcoming Learners to Earners Summit is stoking a broad conversation about how to meet Florida’s talent needs, given that 85% of all jobs in 2030 could be in industries or occupations that do not exist today. 

So how can you, as an employer, better compete for top talent and retain the talent you already have?

  1. Enhance your brand. Employees, especially younger employees, want to work for companies that have a great reputation and an attractive culture. It’s never been more important to boost awareness of your brand’s strongest assets and to be a values-driven company that knows what you stand for and lives by those values.
  2. Rally around your purpose. Millennials, in particular, want to know the purpose of the company they work for and how their work fits in to make a difference. Be clear about why your work matters, and provide regular and individualized feedback to staff about how they meaningfully fit into the larger purpose.
  3. Offer a seat at the table. As David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, notes, millennials are the first generation that grew up sitting at the “adult table.” They aren’t prepared to wait to be an influence. Consciously create an employee engagement program that involves employees of every age in bubbling up ideas to make your company stronger. The plurality of perspectives will make you a better company and more attractive to young, in-demand talent.
  4. Embrace diversity. People want to work for organizations that, at least in part, look like them. As a communications firm, we know that we need a team that understands and mirrors the diverse audiences we are speaking to. But every firm, no matter its purpose, benefits from consciously building a diverse team, especially if it hopes to win in the talent hunt.
  5. Be family-friendly. While millennials are generally marrying and having children later, Coletto notes that millennial households are more consensual, collaborative, and equal, with more women earning graduate degrees and being the primary breadwinners –while 42% of men serve as their family’s primary cooks. Look for millennial talent to drive further change in the workplace, insisting on flexibility and family-friendly policies.

The race for finding and retaining top talent is on. Employers who hope to compete successfully for younger employees will need to learn what consumer brands have already discovered: Give them what they want.

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Michelle Ubben is president of Sachs Media Group