When recruiting or keeping employees, the less tangible things appear to go a long way.
The majority of senior executives and managers say that company
culture is the number-one incentive that has been most effective for
recruiting new employees at their organizations.
And that’s a good thing for them to know, since four-fifths of them
say that recruiting new employees is more difficult than retaining
valued employees, based on a worldwide survey of senior executives and
managers conducted by NFI Research.
“Even though it is difficult to find employees, we are following our
long-standing practices of checking references and more than one
interview to ensure the applicant fits into our culture and way of
doing business,” said one survey respondent. “It can’t be all about the
“The biggest challenge is ensuring that as we leaders live and
breathe the culture of the organization that we want to create,” said
another respondent. “If you are really doing this, it shows new
recruits and those you want to retain.”
Said another: “Non-monetary benefits are becoming more important to new recruits than actual salary.”
The downsizing in many organizations also has had an impact on
recruiting, since some of the resource formerly used in the recruitment
process has been streamlined.
“One of the challenges our organization faces is the downsizing of
HR services and support,” said a survey respondent. “This puts a lot of
added pressure on front-line managers to find their own recruits, which
impacts the time it takes to recruit a new hire.”
That streamlining also can play a role in retaining talent. “One
effect of the leaning of the workforce has been to reduce the time and
attention we can bring to interpersonal relationships,” said one
respondent. “This has resulted in increased turnover and
dissatisfaction. I fear that we are not alone.”
Following company culture, our survey found the most effective
incentives, in order, were an organization’s reputation, stability of
the company, benefits and compensation.
Incentives for retaining employees differ from those that work best
for recruiting. To retain valued employees, executives and managers say
that after company culture, incentives that are most effective are
stability of the company, flexibility, confidence in leadership and
The least effective incentives for both recruiting and retaining employees were contracts and equity.
“The most important asset any corporation has is its people,” said
one survey respondent. “They may join your organization based on the
hard issues, such as compensation and benefits. But what keeps them are
the soft issues, such as culture, sense of contributing, being
recognized and, most importantly, by treating every employee exactly
how you like being treated.”
“It is all about relationships,” said another. “Trust, open communication and real interest in the person, not just the job.”
It is sometimes difficult to know why a valued employee decided to leave the organization. The exit interview is too late.
Managers and executives should conduct regular “temperature checks”
with top performers to make sure job satisfaction is high. That can be
much easier than having to recruit replacements after the people leave
when they could have been much more easily retained.