The current hiring marketplace for top talent is competitive, challenging and aggressive. “A” players are getting the roles they want and, in many instances, naming their desired salary and work schedule.

Today’s hiring marketplace has compelled organizations to fully understand how to attract top talent and how crucial it is that processes are in place for employee retention. The more steps that are in place to retain top talent, the better.

LinkedIn Learning’s recent email survey of nearly 4,000 professionals globally proved leadership to be the most important skill, followed by communication and collaboration. The survey also revealed that executives felt it critical to balance today’s challenges with future opportunities.

The survey indicated that top areas for focus included: how to train for soft skills; identifying trends to prevent future skill gaps; understanding the impact of technology; consistent global training; delivering insights on internal skills gaps; how to track skill development; and, how to access skill competencies.

What does this mean in today’s hiring marketplace?

Through the years of working in recruiting and searching for top talent, I have seen change in candidates’ ranking of top priorities in a role they desire. Today’s employers are more in tune to the key aspects and characteristics that are important to retaining top talent. What follows are a few of the areas that I consistently see are important to today’s top talent.

An Appreciation for Talents
Actions speak louder than words in retaining top talent.

One particular client told me recently that it is increasingly apparent that what resonates with employees is more than just money. They want to feel engaged, appreciated and have the ability to make a significant and noticed contribution. People work for people and employees have a strong desire to feel this way instead of working for a faceless company.

Company management can talk about culture and value systems, but do they truly employ them or is this just lip service? Companies absolutely need to put their money where their mouth is.

Once established in a new role, a candidate may not see or experience what was promised during the hiring process. What drives your top talent away? Feeling underappreciated and finding more fulfilling roles drives employees to seek out what the marketplace is offering.

No one comes to work wanting to do a bad job. “A” players have an inner desire to exceed goals and make a significant contribution to their role. If they aren’t given the environment to do so, they will eventually move on to greener grass.

In some instances, employers don’t lose outstanding candidates to other companies, but to the option of owning and operating their own business. This option allows them to have the flexibility of being their own boss, setting their own rules and moving the needle to where they want it to be.

Compensation & Growth Opportunities
Today’s employees want to feel that their hard work will reap benefits outside of typical compensation.

Gone are the days of companies offering a base salary. Employees want to know about vesting opportunities and shares in the company. It does take more to keep today’s professional and companies are taking notice of incentives and offering competitive salaries.

Candidates want to benefit not only from job compensation but from a feeling of ownership in the organization’s success. Today’s companies are offering their employees real and compelling equity programs.

A Broader Business Experience
A variety of studies indicate that continued education is extremely important to employees.

Good companies will expose their people to a broad range of areas and make sure they are not pigeonholed in one area, keeping them engaged. It is a question that is most often asked in the initial stages of the hiring process.

The leaders of today have worked in multiple disciplines making them well-rounded – a 360-degree executive. Training and education helps prevent the skill gaps of tomorrow. Structured learning programs, seminars and training are attractive to candidates. They see such programs and focus on learning as a benefit to employment with that organization.

One client rotates staff to different positions and departments to get a broad view of their company and a better understanding of how all levels work together. A much-touted, attractive asset of a company is the collaborative, team approach. Today’s candidates are looking for this in their next role. Candidates that I have spoken to ask specifically if this is in place in the potential opportunity.

Educating those at various levels is also a way to prepare a bench and develop a succession plan. This is one major area in which talent is lost. Employees don’t want to feel restricted as if they have reached a ceiling.

Work / Life Balance
Organizations that I have been searching for are actively looking to reduce needless stress with workable solutions such as flexible schedule and remote work locations.

 Today’s management levels are welcoming millennials as they advance and become more experienced. To this sector, family priorities mean more than ever before. With so much discussed, surveyed and analyzed about today’s employee, work flexibility is currently a key component of attracting top talent and will be for years to come. Because of millennial’s movement into management, a focus on work / life balance has been brought to the forefront.

This employee sector wants work flexibility to watch their growing families. They also want options of working outside of the typical 8-to-5 schedule with flex time and remote possibilities.  Crossing over genders, flex schedules are now a factor because this emerging management talent wants to be available for life events. A balance of family experiences and work obligations has become a top priority for candidates.

Are they getting the work done in a flexible environment? More often than not, they are. Summer hours, working from home on a regular basis and flexing schedules around traffic concerns provide a setting for balance and less stress.

A Sense of Belonging
No one wants to feel like just a number.

People want to know that there is concern for them as an employee and a person. There is no professional satisfaction in being just a number. Organizations place emphasis on the importance of their culture and mission and making sure that is communicated.

Does the company truly carry this out? Employees want to feel that they are part of the team and appreciated. Some of today’s best examples of great places to work value their employees’ opinions, listen to what they have to say and set them up for success.

One of my clients brings in an outside company to provide a culture audit. This client wants to know if they are doing a good job at providing the services and aspects of employment that their employees need and want. It is a priority to them enough to inquire about it on a regular basis.

While visiting another client one morning and standing with the CEO, I watched him greet employees by their first name. This resonates with people and you could see it on their faces as he greeted them. Employees and staff want to feel like they belong and have a voice at the table.

Great places to work don’t lose people. Great places to work have an appreciation for their employees and listen. Successful companies in the current marketplace are taking notice of what is necessary to retain top talent. Not only are they taking notice, but taking measures to make sure incentives, programs and processes are in place.

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