How to Foster Employee Success and Attract Excellent Talent

In the war for talent, you need to be an accelerant

In the war for talent, your business needs to be an accelerant.

What is an accelerant?

space travel

The original Voyager 1 spacecraft was launched from earth in 1977. As of 2018, it has traveled 13 billion miles from earth, traveling roughly 37,000 miles per hour. To launch a satellite to the farthest reaches of space, we use the gravity of other planets to slingshot them farther out into space.

To put this in simple terms: Your employees are the satellite, and the mission is their career. They want to use their time with you to fling them further out into space. That means your company needs to be a springboard for them to achieve their dreams.

The myth of the loyal lieutenant

If you are a small shop, you are probably looking for that one loyal employee that will stick with you and maybe take over one day: the first mate on your proverbial ship. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average tenure for workers aged 25 to 34 is 2.8 years. That means you can expect them to stick around long enough to figure out the job before they leave for something else. 20 years ago, working for a top 5 accounting firm like KPMG, an investment bank like Goldman Sachs, or a consulting firm like McKinsey was considered a ticket to a better life. The understood condition? You would only work there for a few years, and you would work your tail off. From there, the mere sight of one of these companies on a resume said more about the candidate than the actual experience. That idea has filtered down to almost every sector. People simply don’t stay at a company as long as they used to.

You can belabor the state of the average worker, or you can prepare for it. Your employees are going to leave you. In fact, many of the people interviewing for your open positions are probably already thinking about their eventual exit.

Not just young people

Wanting new skills is especially true of young people, but everyone is starting to look around and re-evaluate what is important to them after the pandemic lockdowns. Many have retrained to learn new skills, and a steady paycheck is no longer enough to keep them around. Some workers are going to want increased flexibility and benefits. Others are going to want to use their time with your company to accelerate their own career ambitions.

Think about your own experience

What sticks out when reading a resume? Education, for sure; what about prior work experience? If an applicant worked at Apple, Amazon, Google, Tesla, JP Morgan, or GE, would that impress you? Why? Probably because that person brings excellent experience. At least, that’s the perception.

A company’s success is absolutely because of its people, but the reality is that equation does not work both ways. The employee makes the company; the company does not always make an employee. On the other side of that perception is the applicant’s view of your company. Job applicants are subject to the same bias as you. A company with a reputation for being a “great place to work” can attract excellent talent without understanding the actual business.

Additional questions you want to have answers for:

  • Will it teach valuable skills?
  • Will it provide a great byline on a resume?
  • Will it generate network contacts that fuel a successful career?
  • If someone else sees your company on a resume, what do you think it says about you?

To be an accelerant means to provide a unique experience that makes you stand out from others.

Spoil workers with constant communication

“An important lesson of the pandemic was the need for frequent communication, especially with younger workers. They want to feel ‘in the know.’ Every company must have an internal communications strategy and frequency, with the level of interactivity found in social media. The ability to engage has been a pillar in the implementation of collaboration software. Ensure your workers are using it as a tool to communicate more and not less.”

Get them involved

If you asked a bright, ambitious employee if they would rather help you run the show or sit behind a teller desk at Bank of America for $25 an hour, which do you think they would choose? The best employees want more, and they want to do more. Allow them to learn and take on responsibility. These are the employees that grow your business.

Total compensation

If you think it is about money, maybe you are not paying attention. It is about total compensation. It has been well-publicized in the media that workers are looking for flexible hours, mental health benefits, and work from home. But other benefits may not seem that important.

Leverage your business expenses

Can your company pick up necessary expenses for your people like childcare, gym memberships, and transportation? Either you pay them, and they spend that money anyway, or maybe you can spend it for them. Consult with a tax expert in your area for specifics, but here is a possible scenario:

Your employee makes $40,125 per year and needs to pay out $500 per month for childcare expenses. That’s a $6,000 yearly expense.

    • What if you picked up the cost of childcare and paid them $34,125 per year?
    • Your $6,000 expense might yield tax benefits to you, and your employee gets bumped down from a 22% federal tax bracket into a 12% tax bracket. Everybody wins.

Invest in new tools

LinkedIn Learning plans start at $25/month and have customizable programs for your business. Leverage Google docs and other free/inexpensive software tools to increase productivity. Enlist the help of your team to crowdsource new ways to manage the business. Teach every employee how social media ads and SEO work. When you buy a new piece of equipment, let your employees get “official certification” on how to use it.

Pay for employee referrals

Talented people know other talented people. Offer a finder’s fee for bringing in new hires. Ask your employees about their talented friends. When you spot one of them out in the world, give them your business card. One of the best sales guys I ever knew was working at the Verizon store when one of our managers “discovered” him. If somebody shows interest in moving on, ask them if they know anybody that could replace them. You catch more flies with honey.

Your reputation precedes you

People are the most valuable capital in a firm. The team with the most talented people wins. Even Venture Capital firms will say they invest in teams – not products, concepts, or ideas. When your business becomes the place that develops and “graduates” talent, word will spread. You will have a line out the door while the shop down the street is scrambling to find anybody.

Dana Curtis

Dana Curtis


Dana Curtis is the founder and CEO of Biztools, a strategic consulting firm that helps small businesses multiply revenue through improved customer experience and pivot to new markets.

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