5 Ways Leaders Can Attract & Retain Great People

5 Ways Leaders Can Attract & Retain Great People
People are the new priority, in this day and age, as companies wrestle with an increasingly tight labor market and unprecedented workforce exodus. As the labor demand continues on, many companies are turning long-held beliefs upside down — and for good reason. As the workforce evolves, organizations need to evolve alongside it, or risk losing the linchpin of their success: their people. 

At MRINetwork, recruiters and talent access leaders worldwide are helping executives and candidates to realize shared goals and success. MRI President and CEO Bert E. Miller recently spoke with Authority Magazine on the labor shortage and strategies to attract and retain great people. You can read the original interview, in addition to learning more about Miller’s insights here. With nearly three decades of expertise in search and recruitment, Miller offers a unique perspective on where we are and what’s to come. 

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1. Build Flexibility into Your Workplace 

The pandemic ushered in new expectations for both employers and employees. At MRI, we’ve seen a 117% increase in contract staffing business over the last two years. People today are now looking beyond full-time work as the gold standard of employment. They’re open to non-traditional, non-permanent roles, and seeking out companies that let them live their lives on their own terms. 

Many companies, including Google, have long relied on non-permanent workers. But today, more and more companies and individuals are following suit. Unilever, founded more than 100 years ago, is a striking example of evolving with the times.  

Within the Future Workplace section of their website, Unilever states the reality of hiring today in no uncertain terms: “Traditional employer-employee dynamics are no longer fit for either individuals or businesses… We’re breaking the employment mold to create new ways of working that suit our business and our people.” 

Their goal? Pioneer new models to provide employees with flexible employment options by 2030. Currently, their U-Work program gives contract employees the freedom and flexibility of contract roles with the security and benefits of permanent roles. U-Work employees receive a monthly retainer in addition to a specially designed suite of benefits.  

With coverage by Forbes, Business Insider, LinkedIn, NBC, the World Economic Forum, and other organizations, this forward-thinking strategy has set Unilever apart and given it a significant edge. The takeaway? When talent is scarce, shift your mindset to widen your talent pool. 

2. Set Employees Up for Success 

No one wants to work at a dead-end or unrewarding job for long, if they can help it. In many ways, the pandemic exacerbated issues that were decades in the making: inequities in the labor force, unbalanced child care responsibilities, job-hopping, the rise of the gig economy, burnout, a desire for meaning, remote work, and control of your own destiny… the list goes on. 

“There’s no shortage of people who can do the jobs, it’s that the jobs are terrible.” This is how Suzanne Adely, Co-Director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, explained the labor shortage in the fast-food industry. Could there be some truth to this statement for other industries or jobs as well? 

Regardless of whether positions are blue collar or white collar, entry-level or c-suite, people want to be successful at work. The more fulfilled people feel in their roles, the less everyday frustrations will aggravate them. That’s the retention side. From the hiring side, people want to see the potential of growth at your organization. They want to know that they’ll be supported in their efforts, and that their work at your company will have a positive impact on their lives long-term. 

3. Ground Your Company in Values 

According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, societal leadership is now a core function of business. As more and more people align their values with the purpose of their companies, those without a firm foundation will lose ground and employees.  

Core values are the foundation, your culture is the outcome. 

Consider these stats from the Edelman study: 

  • When considering a job, 60% of employees want their CEO to speak out on controversial issues they care about. 
  • 80% of the general population want CEOs to be personally visible when discussing work their company has done to benefit society. 
  • CEOs are expected to shape conversation and policy on jobs and the economy (76%), wage inequity (73%), technology and automation, (74%) and global warming and climate change (68%). 

Regardless of where you stand, employees and candidates want to know that your company stands for something. They want to know that certain norms and behaviors drive your culture. As Miller says, “When a culture is clearly defined through core values and understood by team members, the end result is peak employee and organizational performance. It can be very informative for leaders to examine how their culture has changed over the past two years — and just as informative if it hasn’t changed at all.” 

If you’re having trouble keeping or hiring people, consider what your company’s culture and values (or lack thereof) says to employees and potential team members. 

4. Reexamine What It Means to Lead 

With all of the twists and turns of the past two years, many leaders are looking inwards and redefining what it means to lead. Miller encourages reflection and revelations. “As leaders, we should be reexamining what it means to lead,” he says. “This may require leaders to leave their comfort zone and dramatically alter their long-held perceptions of leadership.” 

Miller continues, “The opportunity to create a better future for their organizations — and their people — exists only if leaders concentrate on strategies that reflect the new reality, rather than trying to revert back to how things used to be.” Now, more than ever, companies need great leaders. To bolster your team and your company, invest in your growth as a leader. At the same time, encourage your team to lead and grow their abilities as well. NextGen is just one of the programs that MRI offers to help inspire and empower the next generation of search firm leaders. 

5. Continue to Innovate, Always 

Change is the only constant in the World of Work. For more than 55 years, MRI has led from the forefront of the industry, in many ways shaping recruiting as we know it today. As a world-class sales and learning organization, MRI continues to reimagine the future today. 

In order to attract and retain great people, leaders must be searching for what’s next. That process is easier with MRI. Working with an MRI firm, hiring managers and candidates can better anticipate what’s next for the workforce, while staying ahead of trends within their market and industry.  

This year, MRI firms have been tireless in their commitment to develop industry-leading talent access strategies. Tese solutions not only help companies find new talent, they also help organizations to keep the amazing people that they already have.  

Ready to Improve Your Results? 

If you’re in need of new ideas and solutions to grow your company or career, MRI can help. Browse our global network of search firms, and contact an MRI office near you.