Avoid The Bait And Switch: How To Leverage Place In Attracting Top Talent

mages courtesy of Steelcase.

mages courtesy of Steelcase.

by Tracy Brower, PhD, MM, MCRw

Years ago, we worked with a very large insurance firm that was seeking to refresh and renew its culture. They were also trying to attract the best talent. They would regularly interview prospective candidates at their recently redesigned Michigan facility even though they were hiring the new employees to work at their facility in the southern US. The facility was significantly outdated and, some might even say, felt rather life-sucking. It was a true bait and switch. Needless to say, their turnover rate within the first year was high.

The good news was the company recognized the power of place and its connection to attracting talent. The bad news was they weren’t putting action behind their beliefs across multiple facilities fast enough to make a difference.

Why Place Matters

Place is one of the most visible artifacts of culture. While candidates largely have to take potential employers at their word in terms of leadership style, work content and company belief systems, the place tells a clear story about the company in terms of how work is accommodated, what resources are available, how the company communicates its approach and what the company values. This explicit nature of place is what makes it such a powerful lever.

Talent Shortages

Attracting talent continues to be an imperative for success. Consider these statistics:

  • Greater than 60 million Baby Boomers will leave the workforce by 2025 and only 40 million new workers will enter according to one study.

  • In addition, the study reports employment in technical, professional and scientific roles will grow 29 percent by 2020. This increase will add more than two million new jobs to the US economy.

  • According Glassdoor, 76 percent of hiring decision makers say attracting quality candidates is their primary challenge.

Strategies for Attraction

One of the strategies that companies are employing is to provide plenty of benefits. In a recent SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) study, HR professionals reported on the benefits that would grow in strategic importance for the recruiting process. Sixty-two percent of HR professionals believe professional and career development will grow, 53 percent believe flexible work schedules will be critical and 50 percent believe wellness and preventative care will be differentiating in attracting top talent. Each of these has a connection to place, of course.

Professional and Career Development

Professional and career development will be important to top talent as they select new firms. but, it will also be important to companies’ success. According to a study, 60 percent of all new jobs in the 21st century will require skills only 20 percent of the workforce possesses.