How to attract the best and brightest in 2020

The following is a guest post from Stevie Nicks, Digital Editor at justanothermagazine.com.

There’s no brand so strong — no company with a competitive advantage so lopsided — that it can miss out on the top talent and stay ahead of the chasing pack. In short, the employees of a business ultimately define it and chart its course. If you want to take your business to great successes in 2020 and beyond, the safest investment you can make is in new hires.

Finding someone with the right skills and attitude isn’t enough, though. Nor is having the money to afford their going rate, or even above that. If you want to convince leading professionals and eye-catching prospects to join your company in particular, you’ll need to pull out all the stops (there are plenty of startups out there, after all) — and in this post, we’re going to set out some key tips for getting the job done. Here’s how you can attract top talent:

Keep employee oversight to a bare minimum

People don’t like being watched, or having their schedules shaped unnecessarily. They like to have and exert control over what they do, how they do it, and when they get it done — and if all the targets are ultimately met, none of those things really matters. The point is that you should relax and let your employees decide how to balance their workloads, because if you’re overly limiting, you can be sure that prospective hires will hear about it.

That said, it’s natural (and often necessary) to keep an eye on what your employees are doing during the working day, so you can’t allow complete freedom. Just be sure to confirm that everyone knows why you’re monitoring certain things (e.g. that you fit your vehicles with telematics  to help plan more efficient journeys, not to criticize anyone for taking breaks, or that you have time-tracking so clients can be billed properly, not so slow workers can be chastised). 

Meet salary expectations but focus on perks

You won’t get anywhere if you flat-out refuse to pay people what they’re worth (and what they can assuredly get elsewhere), because valuable professionals will most likely be insulted by such an approach. At a minimum, you need to meet their rough expectations, but your next step if they’re unsure isn’t to greatly increase the offer: it’s to offer something else.

Money only goes so far in the end, and it becomes less important the more you make. Will going from £80,000 per year to £85,000 per year radically change someone’s life? Probably not — but will allowing them to work from home all the time do that? Absolutely. Or maybe they’d like to have their own office, or work reduced hours. Instead of throwing money at the problem, figure out what someone is looking for and find a way to provide it.

Offer meaningful long-term career options

Where are the roles you’re offering likely to lead? How are they going to change over the next five years? What skills will the people who fill them get to develop? The average candidate might not be willing to talk about these things, being eager to get an offer and willing to accept a lack of direction, but the best candidates don’t want to waste their time stagnating in roles that don’t challenge them or allow them to grow.

Accordingly, you need to show the employment world that you offer meaningful career options, and that starts with doing just that for your current employees. Ask them where they want to take their roles, and find ways to help them do it. When you offer roles to candidates you find impressive, ask them what they see themselves doing in the future — but be clear that it isn’t a loaded question to test their commitment, instead being about supporting their development.

There’s no trick or secret method that will allow you to attract the best and brightest candidates to your business, but it isn’t solely about offering more money. If you can commit to allowing your employees to manage themselves (for the most part), offer enough money and an appealing array of perks, and set out an intriguing career path for years to come, you can be quite successful in winning over top talents.