Havas Worldwide president Andrew Benett studied the best ways to find and attract the right employees in his book, The Talent Mandate, released earlier this year. He shared with us 10 tips for winning talent from competitors:
1. Hire the person, not the position: We hire for the future, not the past. Agility and relentless adaptation are vital, and so we’re typically not looking for someone to slot into a position shaped by the person who just vacated it. We give hires the freedom to meld each position to their own individual strengths and interests. And we help them keep adding on new skills and experiences so they — and their position — can grow along with the business.
2. Mind your culture: Where other elements (including pay and benefits) are relatively equal, culture is increasingly often the distinguishing factor that sets one company above another. And it may well be the single greatest factor keeping talent in place and engaged. By culture, I’m not talking about poof pillows and sushi bars but about the values that hold a company together — knowing what does and does not fit. And I also mean the intangible way an organisation feels when you walk through the door. It doesn’t surprise me at all that 97% of the senior business leaders we surveyed said a strong culture can be a company’s most valuable asset.
3. Ban jerks: People, obviously, are the most critical component of any culture. We all know people who have left an employer, not because they didn’t like the company or their job responsibilities but because they couldn’t stand their manager or someone else in a position of power who made them dread Monday mornings. We have a no-tolerance policy for bullies and jerks. Even if someone is a superstar on paper, it’s not worth it to keep that person if his or her presence is a drain on the culture and is preventing the formation of other superstars.
4. Operate from a place of trust: We’re not in the business of hiring brilliant thinkers and technical people just so we can micromanage them and second-guess everything they do. The best cultures are infused with transparency and trust. They give people the information they need (and more) and then get out of their way and let them do their jobs. 94% of senior business leaders we surveyed agreed: “The most successful companies trust their employees, giving them freedom to make decisions and act with a measure of independence.”
5. Measure by results: For the most part, I don’t care where or when an employee gets the job done. What matters is that they deliver on assignments and find creative ways to add value to the company. If someone wants to compress his or her work into a four-day workweek or prefers working at home part-time or gets more done on weekends, then so be it. Provided client and agency needs are being satisfied, we want to offer all the flexibility we can. This helps with motivation and retention, and it also allows us to cast a wider net. There are lots of enormously talented people out there whose lives simply can’t accommodate the standard workweek. We want them. 97% of senior executives surveyed agree: “The most successful companies are flexible and open to meeting employees’ varied needs.”
6. Say thank-you: Know why most people leave their jobs? According to the US Department of Labour, the #1 reason is because they don’t feel appreciated. As much as we pay out in salary, benefits, and various perks, we know that the best people we hire are giving us far more in return. And so we say thank-you. And not just during formal reviews. We’re paying more attention to softer, everyday rewards and motivators — whether it is public acknowledgment of a job well done, extra vacation time, or an invitation to a senior-level gathering.
7. Acknowledge their personal brand: This sounds like complete marketing-speak, but the fact is that the people we hire aren’t just building our brand and our clients’ brands; they’re building their own brands, too. They have to be in this era of free-agency talent, when careers are built not within a single company, but very often across industries. What does this mean on a practical basis? It means we support skills acquisition, the accumulation of a broad base of experiences, and we encourage entrepreneurship and outside interests.
8. Be age blind: Just because you were weaned on Han Solo’s Star Wars, not Jar Jar Binks’, doesn’t mean you can’t be a seriously creative digital innovator. In the same way, the fact that you’re a millennial doesn’t mean you’re not ready to lead a client meeting. The diversity of our company is one of our greatest strengths, and our people-centered approach means we’re not going to pigeonhole our talent according to their birth dates. If you’re ready to take on huge responsibilities, we’ll encourage you to do so. And we’re never going to assume the best digital person for a particular job has to be south of 40. Just show us what you can do.
9. Support life-work integration: The digital age means it’s getting harder and harder to detach from work. If you work in an office, no matter what industry you’re in, you’re more likely than not taking work home with you, responding to texts on the weekends, and even checking email while on vacation. We try to balance that out by not creating a workspace that’s a personal-free zone. If you need to do some online shopping or post a Vine while at the office, fine. If your volunteer work would be made easier with our equipment, then by all means use it when it’s not needed for agency business. Our new digital tools mean life and work have been blended — and that shouldn’t be all one-way.
10. Give them something to believe in: There are a number of components to job satisfaction: Being paid what you think you deserve is one. Enjoying what you do is another. And now, increasingly, we’re looking to feel good about what we do — to feel our jobs are tied into our personal values and are in some way contributing to the greater good. It’s no coincidence that Havas executives have produced two books in recent years that speak to the importance of businesses doing good (Who Cares Wins and Good for Business). We’re serious about the role we believe business in general — and communications groups in particular — should be playing in addressing some of society’s most pressing problems. When I interviewed Walt Freese for The Talent Mandate, he said that at Ben & Jerry’s he “strove to create a culture where people didn’t need to park any part of themselves at the door, especially not their hearts and souls.” Our company takes our societal obligations as a business entity — and as individuals — seriously, and we offer plenty of avenues for our talent to get involved, whether through our sustainability leadership efforts, One Young World, or our pro-bono work. 94% of the business leaders we surveyed said companies with clear values have an edge in recruiting top candidates. We think we have that edge.
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