All Articles Leadership Management 2 things organizations must do to win the war for talent

2 things organizations must do to win the war for talent

4 min read


Is your organization a great place to work?

To know for sure, you’d need information like the percentage of employees that are highly engaged and highly productive, information about the degree to which employees trust their bosses and peers, information about whether employees’ ideas and efforts are consistently validated, and information about how many talented, engaged employees leave your organization every month.

What drives talented people to join your organization or to stay with your organization? Lazlo Bock, senior vice president of Google’s people operations, said in a recent Business Insider interview that pay and perks — like free gourmet meals, services like child care and dry cleaners on campus, etc. — are nice, but they don’t “actually retain people or even attract people.”

Bock continued, “People don’t stay for the money!” Over a third of Google’s first 100 employees still work for the company even after making quite a haul in Google’s initial public offering.

According to Bock, the two reasons that people are attracted to and want to stay with your organization are:

  • The quality of people they work with
  • The feeling that the work they do is meaningful.

These match my experience and research. Let’s look at these elements more closely.

A friend is a project manager at a national health care organization. Brad is a talented player who works well with the wide range of internal customers he interacts with. He’s a strong contributor. He has pride in his work and strives to keep his commitments.

The last two years, though, he’s been frustrated at the lack of commitment and skill demonstrated by his peers. Brad needs reports, traction and completed tasks by his peers to keep his commitments to others across the nation. When his peers don’t deliver what they’ve promised, he’s stuck. He can’t deliver what he’s committed to because others are not carrying their load.

Brad doesn’t feel it’s his role to blame his peers but he doesn’t feel it’s fair that he take the fall when projects go sideways, commitments are not met, etc.

Brad is experiencing a lack of quality of people he works with. He is stuck, surrounded by less capable and less accountable players. Management does not hold everyone accountable for their commitments. Brad is actively looking to leave his current organization due to his frustration.

In another case, I inspired a culture client to learn what employees felt was their organization’s purpose. One of the HR staff toured the facility with a video camera, shooting short interviews of individual supervisors and employees answering one question: “What’s our organization’s purpose?”

The answers were consistent and depressing. Answers fell into two categories: 1) We print catalogs (that was their primary business, after all), and 2) We make money for shareholders.

Those answers are not surprising. Those are the messages team leaders and team members had heard from senior leaders for decades.

As part of their organizational constitution, this plant crafted a present-day servant purpose that significantly shifted people’s view of their work. Their purpose became “our catalogs help our customers have business success!”

The meaning of the work shifted from tactical (we print catalogs) or financial gain for others (stakeholders) to “we help our customers succeed.” This meaningful purpose along with values and behaviors helped boost engagement, service, and results by 30% and more in less than 18 months.

Surround your people with quality players and help them discover meaning through service to others.

Subscribe to my free twice-a-month newsletter. Subscribers enjoy free resources including a preview of my Amazon best-selling book, The Culture Engine, which helps leaders create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution.

Podcast – Listen to this post now by clicking the podcast link at left. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes. The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mixed the final product, just for you.

If you enjoyed this article, join SmartBrief’s e-mail list for our daily newsletter on being a better, smarter leader.