In our globalised world where the next competitor can easily outbid you in a remuneration war, it’s easy to realise that recruiting is no longer only about what you can offer, but also about what you stand for.

As leaders in recruitment, we constantly ask ourselves, “What are candidates looking for in a company today?” The obvious answer might be great perks and compensation, but the real truth is that proven and high potential talent are looking beyond monetary rewards. In fact, 92% of millennials believe that business success should be measured by more than just profit.

Top performers are looking for a space to grow, both as an individual and as an employee. Consequently, a growing number of companies have realised that it’s just as important to offer intangible benefits in order to stand out in this battle to attract the best talent.

So what exactly do high potential talent look for and expect in their job search?

Company culture

One of the biggest draws for top talents to join a company is its culture. According to our research in the Talent Trends 2021 report, a dynamic corporate culture is one of the top three considerations for workers from generations X, Y and Z during a job search.

Employees want to work at companies that share their values, and these will be the same dedicated hires who will be committed to your organisation’s mission. Ways of improving company culture on a macro-level can include connecting the employees’ job to corporate initiatives, which can improve recognition and encourage collaboration, transparency and trust.

On a smaller scale, culture-enhancing activities could be as simple as organising team lunches, being flexible with remote working or even offering more parental leave. All these gestures — whether big or small — cultivate a positive company culture from the top down that is enforced at all levels of the organisation.

A great company culture improves employer branding, which in turn makes your company more appealing to top candidates. According to Glassdoor’s Statistical Reference Guide for Recruiters in 2020, almost all employees (93%) mention company culture in their reviews on the site, making it clear just how important it is to them. The same report also revealed that having an overall rating on the website that’s one star higher — a score that includes points for positive company culture — attracts talent six times more effectively than paying a higher ($10,000 per year) salary.

Diversity and inclusion

Besides culture and values, top professionals will want to know how they can grow within an organisation, and not get side lined because of biases and stereotypes.

According to Deloitte, millennials stay longer with firms that value diversity. Unlike previous generations, these young workers have grown up with the idea that diversity and inclusion are crucial corporate values – and will absolutely take these aspects into account when making a job decision.

Having a highly diverse team improves employee morale and happiness, but it is inclusion that really fosters positive behaviour at work. When this is achieved together, it heightens your staff’s loyalty – and the benefits extend to positive company culture and employer branding.

The rise in diversity comes at a time where modern organisations are increasingly structured to be collaborative and team-based, and there’s ample evidence that those who effectively recruit and manage a diverse workforce have a clear competitive advantage. Some big organisations that have embraced the concept include Gap, L’Oréal and Nestlé, according to Thomson Reuters’ Diversity and Inclusion Index. Moreover, companies with a greater gender mix and ethnic diversity consistently outperform the rest by up to 21%, achievements that will surely catch the eye of top talent.

Initiatives such as reviewing gender pay gaps, encouraging diverse thinking, strengthening anti-discriminatory policies and eliminating biases during promotion opportunities are great practices to adopt. Conversely, when your employees feel they have to mask core parts of themselves at work because they feel unsure, unsafe or invisible, it can take a toll on staff motivation, engagement and employee retention, and ultimately, talent attraction.

Career growth opportunities

High performing and talented job candidates are always keen for learning and improving, so career growth opportunities are always big motivators for them to join your organisation. Research in our Talent Trends 2021 report found that a lack of upskilling options was one of the top three reasons that would cause employees to leave their job voluntarily across all levels of the company, from entry-level workers to VPs.

Career growth opportunities can come in the form of mentorship or training and are an important factor in a talent attraction program. It’s not just employees who benefit from these initiatives too; organisations can enjoy higher levels of engagement, retention and knowledge-sharing, which boosts employer branding to attract top talent. Regular one-to-one meetings and online training sessions — as well as encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and risk-taking — are great ways to encourage career growth opportunities, and help your team and organisation to reach success.

Unfortunately since the pandemic, there has been a drop in career growth opportunities. During this time, 49% of employees have said that career development, mentorship and training have been sorely lacking.

What can leaders do to “sweeten the deal”?

Businesses have to remember the vital role that senior leadership plays in driving top talent to their organisation. Honest leaders who speak up in the best interest of the individual, the team and the company can accelerate success and empower those who are under them. After all, collaboration works best when feedback, responsiveness and communication are constantly exchanged. This kind of modus operandi also builds trust over time, encourages a good working relationship and ultimately promotes employee retention — the hallmark of a successful company worth working for.

Leaders should also encourage their employees to take risks, because this stimulates new ideas and opportunities. Having the space to fail and learn can be enticing for top talent who seek to expand their horizons and become even better at what they do. Encouraging diversity and inclusion also starts at the top. Leaders who not only hire without bias, but also make the effort to ensure employees feel included, can absolutely help foster a healthy work environment that drives productivity and reaches new goals.

“Superior talent” is up to eight times more productive than less capable staff, so it’s obvious why the best companies have their eyes on only the top percentile of the workforce. While remuneration and tangible benefits are attractive incentives for signing on the dotted line, intangible benefits such as company culture, diversity and inclusion — as well as career growth opportunities — are equally significant factors that might influence their final decision.

Download the Talent Trends 2021 report to find out how you can optimise your talent attraction plan and strategy.

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