It’s an employee’s market today. Businesses are scrambling to appeal to the best and the brightest talent before they are snapped up by competitors. A recent study undertaken by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce (a client) of their business members, found that one of the greatest challenges facing these businesses was finding and retaining the right talent. A Time Magazine article highlighted the skills shortage recently by saying:
“Many tech executives — starting with the late Steve Jobs — have argued that there aren’t enough American-born math and science graduates to fill the engineering jobs in Silicon Valley’s booming economy, and thus we need to attract, and keep, the best and brightest foreign-born workers. A recent study by the consulting firm McKinsey found that 45% of U.S. employers surveyed say that a “skills shortage” is a leading reason for entry-level vacancies. In a widely discussed 2011 Wall Street Journal article, Marc Andreessen, arguably Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalist, wrote that “every company I work with is absolutely starved for talent.”
To address this issue, Zuckerberg founded FWD.us, an organization dedicated to pursuing the legislation changes necessary to attract the much needed, highly-skilled talent to the country. But it’s not just large tech titans in Silicon Valley that are feeling the strain, and not all small businesses can offer coffee shops on every floor, round the clock chefs, movie theaters in the office and all the other insane perks that the tech pioneers have become known for.
In your business, the talent you need may not be overseas, but right on your doorstep and irrespective of the size of your business or whether you’re in Cupertino or Coshocton, the answer to finding and retaining great talent does not (contrary to popular belief) depend on whether you offer free sodas or allow pets at work. Rather, the answer lies in having a purpose that aligns with that of the employees you wish to attract. John Replogle, CEO of Vermont-based home products company Seventh Generation summed it by saying:
“There is a war on talent out there. It is incredibly important to get passionate, talented people to join in unison and collaborate to be constructive engineers of the next generation of how business is run. Asking “Why?” and clearly identifying your purpose will attract the very best, brightest and most passionate people who will be the pioneers of twenty-first-century business enterprise”.
Goldman Sachs recently noted “…..that research at both the corporate and university level suggests that this next generation of employees and consumers have specific needs at work that are dramatically different from previous generations. High among these is a desire to align personal and corporate values. To attract and retain this group, we believe that companies need to provide rewards beyond financial gain….”
The question for you as a business owner is how serious you are about attracting not just the best and the brightest talent but the customers who are now making purchasing decisions in a far different way than they did ten years ago. The answer lies in discovering, articulating and activating your purpose. You can worry about the popcorn machines and massage sessions for the staff later.
To see if your brand lacks purpose, ask yourself these 25 questions.
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Barry Chandler is the co-founder of Storyforge, a brand strategy company focused on helping companies discover their purpose to allow them achieve their vision, build preference and drive margin. Barry has been building award-winning businesses since launching his first company in Ireland in 2003. His last company, a digital marketing agency, was acquired in 2012 by a California-based publicly traded entertainment company which then hired him as Chief Marketing Officer. It is his belief that the greatest brands seek to change the world, improving the lives of their associates, partners and customers.