Publisher’s Note: Make Your Company a People Magnet

by Kyle Clapham

Consultant Brian Kaskavalcyian and I recently exchanged emails about his presentation for TOP 500 LIVE in New Orleans. In the text of one email was a line that has stayed with me over the past several weeks.

“As home improvement firms grow from big to bigger,” he wrote, “they switch from being a sales and marketing company to a people-development company.”

Attracting, hiring and retaining talent has been a longstanding challenge for home improvement and remodeling companies. Today, with demand for services very strong, the problem of finding people and skilled labor is even more acute. Today, you are seemingly competing against all employers—big and small—to bring people on board. From Microsoft to McDonald’s and everyone in between, attracting talent is the No. 1 business conversation today.

Soft Incentives, Hard Incentives

In the not-too-distant past, attracting people was primarily about “hard” incentives—compensation and benefits. To lure a prospect, a remodeler might boost pay and add the use of a company vehicle and stop there. They would not offer health care, paid vacation or matching 401K programs. Those items were simply not offered.

Today’s young people graduate high school or college expecting more. They want training. They want leadership development. They want a shot at a career path in an organization with a positive culture. Today these so-called “soft” incentives mean as much or more than the “hard” incentives.

According to human resources consultancy Korn Ferry International, young people today can be choosy because of the shortage of labor. They are gravitating to firms with strong, purpose-driven cultures. Consider these facts: By 2025, millennials will account for 75 percent of the workforce; 75 percent of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company; and 83 percent of millennials say they would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues.

Internal and External Purpose

Does your company have a purpose? Of course it does. You are in business to make a profit. But have you ever thought about what your firm’s purpose might be in a larger sense? Profit for shareholders and gaining market share—these are internal purposes. And it is 100 percent OK to be motivated by these things.

The desire for these goals is a huge driver of entrepreneurship in our country. Patagonia is a good example of a purpose-driven company. It wants to sustainably create garments that enable people to spend long periods of time outside and enjoy nature. All the decisions for this company are derived from this external purpose.

Thinking about your remodeling or home improvement company against a larger external purpose is not as crazy as it sounds. You improve homes. You make families comfortable. You create home. You create energy-efficient dwellings that reduce the use of carbon. This fall, as you push to bring on new people to help you work through your backlogs of jobs, consider your external purpose.

Can you flesh out that purpose enough to communicate it to your team? Can you flesh it out enough to help you better represent your company’s story as it appears on your website and social media? If so, you will likely be in a good position to attract more talent and keep them for the long haul. That’s what the big companies are doing, and there’s no reason you can’t too. QR

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