Job market volatility is turning hiring and retaining talent into a mission-critical challenge for growth-hungry companies. The issue has become so top-of-mind for strategic planners and decision-makers that it occupies three of Gartner's 9 Future of Work Trends for 2023 – namely, the competition for talent, employee burnout, and a renewed pressure to control costs.
For startups without HR resources comparable to their larger counterparts, hiring and retention can prove especially difficult. Employees have emerged from COVID with higher expectations of their employers on everything from hybrid and remote work options, greater work-life balance, and better physical and emotional wellbeing. Meeting all of those demands often requires structural and organizational infrastructure to support them, which unfortunately might not be at the disposal of startups focused heads-down on growth.
One way that startup founders and executives may be able to stay competitive in the race for talent is to build backwards from what their employee experience. Here are three ways you may be able to shape the experience of working at your company to earn the attention – and continued employment – of top talent.
Choose a home base that fosters quality of life
Planting your business roots in a city that supports a high quality of life with things like access to recreation and a reasonable cost of living can lay a foundation to building a strong employee experience. When identifying a potential business home base, it may be wise to consider factors like the city’s safety, housing market, affordability, recreation and culture. Locations that score high in these areas can help provide potential needs your employees may prioritize.
[Regarding Raleigh] That's been a common thread among most of the staff is [that] people really love the energy and the vibrancy around here.
- Rich Brancaccio, Founder of Raleigh-based, Revibe Tech
According to a handful of founders in the area, Salt Lake City presents a great opportunity to build out a desirable experience. It is less than six hours from eight national parks, under one hour to world-class skiing and snowboarding, and mountain biking and hiking are nearby as well. It also ranks well in terms of affordability – the cost of utilities, transportation, and groceries all fall below the national average, increasing quality of life in Salt Lake City since residents have more disposable income to enjoy everything it has to offer.
Raleigh, North Carolina, is another example of an upcoming hot spot for businesses and startups, offering great quality of life for employees who call it home. In fact, Rich Brancaccio, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Raleigh-based, Revibe Tech, put his company roots in the City of Oaks for that exact reason.
“There's an air of excitement around the Raleigh area. We're two hours from the ocean. We're two hours from the mountains. You can surf one weekend, you can ski another weekend, and hike and camp another. That's been a common thread among most of the staff is [that] people really love the energy and the vibrancy around here.”
Higher quality of life may help contribute to your employees leading happier lives outside of your four walls, which can rebound with positive effects on energy and productivity when they come to work. Low engagement alone costs the global economy $7.8 trillion. The correlation between wellbeing and engagement is heightened more than ever, because stress on the job influences life outside work, and overall wellbeing influences life at work.
Consider providing holistic benefits and rewards
One way to keep your employees engaged is to consider shoring up their benefits beyond what's expected. Looking into holistic benefits that supports aspects of their wellness that's traditionally been considered outside of an employer's scope, such as mental health resources, extended parental leave, and childcare support, may be good places to start. This can show your team that they work for a company that prioritizes their health and wellness, encourages recharge-time and rewards their hard work with support that goes beyond the standard. Not only might this help foster their confidence in you as an employer, but employees who have the tools they need to support their well-being are able to bring their best to the workplace.
Establishing a good reputation in areas like salary protection, flexible work schedules and locations, additive financial compensation, and paid time off, can help your business become more desirable to new talent. According to a survey conducted by Monster.com interviewing 3,000 recruiters and 7,000 employees, 24% of candidates are skeptical of promises companies make about job expectations, benefits, perks, and culture, with Millennials and Gen Z being more skeptical than other generations. Build trust by proving your actions match your promises with holistic benefits and rewards that can not only help attract top talent but encourage employee retention as business grows.
Foster flexible work
Between 2019 and 2021, the number of people primarily working from home tripled from 5.7% (roughly 9 million people) to 17.9% (27.6 million people), according to the 2021 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census. A flexible approach that provides a balanced system of in-office and at-home work options has become a key factor in building stronger employee experience.
After embracing flexibility, some companies have experienced better employee satisfaction, lower attrition rates and increased productivity. For Shanee Kraus, Head of Employee Community at Augury, empowerment drives a good experience.
When you empower employees to choose how they approach their tasks, there’s a clear message from the company that individuals are heard and their needs are addressed.
– Shanee Kaus, Head of Employee Community at Augury
Additionally, implementing a more flexible approach to work helps enable healthier work-life balance and may increase your employees’ overall happiness. Since schedules won’t require employees to dedicate as much time to commutes or being in the office without purpose, your staff can spend more valuable time with their loved ones, pursuing hobbies, and recharging so they can bring their best to work.
A modern employee experience revolves around providing the tools they need to increase their overall well-being. Basing your business in a city with high quality of life, providing holistic benefits, and offering greater flexibility are just a few ways to help recruit and retain strong talent while fostering a more satisfied, dedicated workforce.
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