York Thought Leadership Blog

Ask a York Recruiter- The Resume Conundrum

Posted by Danielle Toste on Tue, Apr 8, 2014 @ 14:04 PM

Grab your resume. Set a timer for six seconds. Start the timer and read your resume until the timer goes off. What stuck out from your resume? Were you even able to interpret much from those six seconds? Well, according to many recruiters and hiring managers, on average, they spend six seconds skimming a resume. Yes, you read that right. Six seconds! We wanted to find out if this is true and discover what recruiters look for on a resume. So, we asked a few York recruiters and you might be surprised by what they told us. 

6 Seconds is Not Enough Time to Review a Resume

“I feel like I can get a pretty good gauge on whether or not a person would be a good fit, but of course you need to spend more than 6 seconds looking at the resume,” said Corey Johnson, Manager of Consulting Services at York Solutions. “Things I look for in order to gauge fit are
relevant past experience, experience at large, reputable companies, and long-term engagements versus short 2-3 month contract positions.”

Noel Novacek, Manager of Consulting Services at York Solutions, also agrees that he takes way
longer than six seconds. So, that is a sigh of relief that your resume is getting a decent amount of time being reviewed.

Resume Format is Key

Both Noel and Corey agreed that if a resume has a “clean” look and is organized, this tells the recruiters that the candidate is an organized, detail-oriented person which is an essential quality in an IT professional. It is also recommended that a candidate does not use smaller than 11 point font or a font that is too fancy.

Do Not Use Third Person and Keep the Personal Details to a Minimum

It is a quick way to get your resume thrown to the side. Also, leave out the overly personal information. For example, our recruiters occasionally get resumes that share too much detail
about a candidate’s life. While recruiters definitely enjoy learning more about
who a candidate is, it might be best to save those details for the
interview.  Those extra details may make take away valuable space on your resume where you could be sharing additional professional achievements which are most important to hiring managers.

Triple Check Spelling and Grammar

If you keep your resume professional, free of errors, concise, and relevant to the job to which you are applying, you will greatly increase your chances of your resume standing out which might just lead to a job interview. So, once again, attention to detail is key!

What do you think is most important for an IT professional’s resume?

Topics: ITJobs, IT consulting, Job Search, Employer Insights, Fun, Professional Development, IT Job Search, IT Hiring, Information Technology

Meet York Solutions Employee- Brandi Will

Posted by Danielle Toste on Tue, Mar 25, 2014 @ 09:03 AM

At York, getting to know our employees is the best way to understand who we are. This week, we would like for you to get to know Brandi Will, Director of Marketing for York Solutions and Executive Director for Think IT.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your role?

BrandiWillMy current role is a dual role as the Director of Marketing for York Solutions and the Executive Director for Think IT Association.  For York Solutions, I am always looking for ways to ensure
we are constantly providing value to our clients, consultants, and members of Think IT.  Additionally, I am charged with budgeting, staffing, and execution of all our Think IT programs and helping to expand what we’ve currently built in the Twin Cities to the Chicago and St. Louis markets.  I have worked for York Solutions since 2003, and I began working for Think IT
in early 2011.  It has been extremely rewarding to watch the groups blossom from starting with just 2 groups to our current 8.  

Where did you go to school at? 

I attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA.  I received a Bachelor’s of Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing.  Go Hawks!

What drew you to York Solutions? 

I was drawn to York Solutions right away by the friendly people, flexible work environment, and family-oriented culture.  No matter where you start here at York, if you work hard and continually show that you can add value to the organization, you will succeed.

What has been your biggest accomplishment since working here? 

I would say my biggest accomplishmentto date has been organizing and structuring Think IT to what it is today, including building a wonderful team of people that accomplishes great results
for both York and Think IT.

Why do you like coming to work every day?

Working at York is like being a mechanic and working on a car while you’re driving down the highway at 70 mph, and for some crazy reason that excites me!  I also truly enjoy the people I work with and I’m passionate about seeing what we’ve built turn into something special.  Another reason is our unique culture. We’re a work hard, play hard type of organization
where everyone understands the importance of driving results, but we make the entire process fun!

Who has influenced you the most, either professionally or personally?  

Many people have influenced me along the way, but most recently, Dr. Arnold Bacigalupo, our organizational development guru, has really helped me to navigate the path to leadership. 
Personally, I would have to say my family. Every day they motivate me to be a better mother, a better wife, and a better person in general.

How do you spend your time outside of the office? 

With my husband and two small children. We like to go for family walks, trips to the park, and will soon be getting into ballet and t-ball.

 

Topics: Blogs, Employer Insights, Fun, York Solutions, York Consultant Profiles, York Solutions Employees

Getting Things Done: Improving Productivity in your IT Department

Posted by Madeline Stone on Tue, Oct 1, 2013 @ 10:10 AM

We don’t know about you, but we’re always fascinated by the literature out there about how to get things done better and faster. IT in particular can always benefit from increased efficiency and productivity; it’s just figuring out how to do it that’s the tricky part.

Here’s what works for us at York (we like to think of ourselves as a productive bunch!) and what we’d like to try out:

What Works:

Breaks for Movement.  Physical movement can have a striking impact on productivity. Whether it’s lunchtime yoga, a quick walk around the outside of the building, or even the stairs instead of the elevator on the way to lunch, we’ve found that our brains are much more productive when we get ourselves moving throughout the day. There’s science behind this too—movement increases your intake of oxygen, which can be the equivalent of another cup of coffee.

What We’d Like To Try:

A Bouncy Chair! Sounds goofy, but sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair forces you to sit up straighter, and sitting up straighter can provide an instant boost of focus. IT folks who sit all day can struggle a lot with back pain and like distractions, so we’re really interested in this idea.  Still not convinced?  Exercise-ball-chair bases now exist, so your seat won’t roll away when you get up.  While it may not work for everyone, there’s a chance it could totally change the way you feel about sitting all day.

 

What Works:

Workplace Flexibility. We’re strong proponents of getting things done, and sometimes the best way for that to happen is from home. IT obviously requires a certain amount of connectivity and a certain amount of physical presence, but we’ve found that balancing being in the office with being off-site leads to happier, more productive folks.

What We’d Like To Try: 

Making Our Spaces Even More Productivity-Friendly. Whether it’s just a desk, a cube, or a whole office, having a great workspace makes a big difference in your output. It’s important to contrast your monitor(s) with less eye-straining, stress-inducing pieces: plants are a great example, as well as the omnipresent family photos. Have you considered a little vision board, reminding you of where you want to go and what your dreams are?  We’re also working on our offices in an effort to create spaces to foster creativity and collaboration—opening up walls, letting in natural light, and the like.  

 

What Works:

Open Communication. It’s of paramount importance that folks are able to connect easily. Whether you accomplish that through well-written emails, phone calls, texts, or desk-side chats, there needs to be a way for people to connect simply and effortlessly, so that questions get answered faster, assignments are handed out clearly, and people don’t feel isolated (which can be a problem in IT).

What We’d Like to Try:

More Face Time. Touching on that last point about isolation, all the communication forms in the world don’t hold a candle to the power of a face-to-face conversation. No matter what we have to do (whether it’s buy a flight, make Skype work, or walk next door) it’s so important that folks get a chance to interface in person. While it may seem counterproductive to use time in this way, we firmly believe that in a field where so little face-to-face is actually required it’s even more important to make the effort to communicate in person. It’s much easier to ask a favor of or do a favor for someone you’ve met in person, isn’t it?  

 

What improves your department’s productivity? What holds you back? Let us know in the comments!

Topics: Employer Insights

So You Really Think You're a Leader?

Posted by Briana Perrino on Wed, Jul 17, 2013 @ 09:07 AM

Every manager is a leader and every leader is a manager, right? Wrong. Leadership and management are often used synonymously, when in reality they have two very different connotations. According to Ilya Pozin, “Every leader may not be a manager, but every manager should be a leader.” So, you ask yourself, “What’s the difference?” Here’s a breakdown of some of the differences between the two and what it takes to truly be a leader:

  • A manager maintains; a leader develops. A manager does what they are told and follows the status quo, while a leader seeks out new ideas and processes that can positively impact the organization.
  • A manager has a short-range view; a leader has long-range perspective. A manager focuses on making sure that he or she is reaching assigned goals for output, savings, etc. A leader sees the bigger picture and analyzes how to improve processes, and asseses whether or not certain tasks align with the organization’s highest goals.
  • A manager does things right; a leader does the right thing. A manager makes sure that things are completed according to plan. However, a leader makes sure that the people within the organization are happy and that the organization is meeting and/or surpassing ethical and company standards.
  • A manager gives answers; a leader asks questions. A manager often assigns tasks to people and tells them how to complete them. A leader, on the other hand, asks employees for their opinions and allows them to participate in the decision-making process. Doing so makes employees feel that they are important to the organization and it inspires creativity and motivation.

In the end, this really has nothing to do with job title. It’s even possible that a CEO may not have the leadership skills necessary to take a company in the direction it needs to go; which would be a HUGE problem, but it happens. Part of the responsibilities of someone in a management role is to plan, organize, budget, measure performance, staff jobs and problem solve, which all help an organization “predictably do what it knows how to do,” according to John Kotter.

Management can be an incredibly difficult task and its complexity is often underestimated. However, along with all of these management responsibilities, it is very important to think beyond the day-to-day work and deadlines, and really think about the needs of the people within your organization and how to better your company in the long run.

Do you think there's a difference between a manager and a leader? Share your thoughts below. 

Topics: Employer Insights

3 Tools to Use When Writing a LinkedIn Recommendation

Posted by Melissa Zeman on Tue, May 21, 2013 @ 12:05 PM

If you are on LinkedIn, chances are you have been asked to write a recommendation for someone you know. Corey Johnson, Recruiting Specialist of York Solutions says it best, “I definitely feel that recommendations on LinkedIn are important, although I wouldn’t say they are crucial.  I’m typically more concerned with the candidate’s skill set and prior experience, which a good recommendation helps to solidify.” By recommending one’s skillset and how proactive they are in the professional field you give them the credit they deserve as well as open up endless opportunities for them professionally.

Have you ever written a recommendation on LinkedIn? Please share your thoughts with us! Below are three tips to help write a LinkedIn Recommendation.

Be Precise

Make sure you are specific when writing about someone’s capabilities and qualifications they hold. Share various examples when discussing these skills and what exactly the job entailed. Make sure you are concise and get your point across in an effective manner.

Use Examples

Use real life examples you have encountered with this person in order to support your text. Make sure to use ideas and examples that are interesting and memorable to those who will ultimately be reading it. By using descriptive words in a specific example we are able to receive a clearer picture of who this person actually is.

Forget Generic

Writing recommendations is a great way to brush up on your own writing skills as well as helping out someone who you feel deserves it. I challenge you to write at least one recommendation on LinkedIn this week!It is important when writing a recommendation that you show what the person actually did and the positive outcome it had for your organization. Use genuine statement to point out what makes this person different and how they stand out from the rest.

Topics: IT consulting, Job Search, Employer Insights

How Does Company Culture Impact Success?

Posted by Melissa Zeman on Tue, May 14, 2013 @ 14:05 PM

Company culture has become a hot topic in relation to an organization's success. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Culture refers to the values and attitudes of employees in the business or organization. In a business with an unhealthy culture, employees act as individuals, performing their duties to meet their own needs, such as a paycheck or health benefits.” In contrast, “A healthy corporate culture values each employee in the organization regardless of his job duties, which results in employees working as a team to meet the company’s and their own personal needs. Healthy corporate culture improves the performance of a business in a number of areas.” With that being said, here are three ways a healthy corporate culture can impact your business:  

Greater Efficiency

It all begins with the attitude of your employees. If you have a healthy company culture it will have a positive effect on how efficiently your employees get their work done. For instance, companies such as Netflix and Hubspot maintain a “no vacation” policy. I know what you’re thinking, “They don’t get any vacation days? How terrible!” However, this policy is, in fact, quite the opposite.

Employees at these organizations are able to take as many days off as needed. The work of their employees is not measured by hours spent in the office or working overtime. It is measured solely by productivity. This policy helps create a culture where the results matter more than the time it took to get there. HubSpot, in particular, promotes a culture of work + life, rather than work vs. life.

Other ways you may be able to help drive efficiency within your organization are by providing employees with consistent and concise information, as well as making sure there is seamless collaboration between employees, partners, suppliers, and customers. If your employees have all the information they need and everyone is on the same page, this will increase overall effectiveness and productivity.  

Increased Retention

Retaining great employees is one of the keys to success for any company. Make sure to listen. Listen to all employees, clients, and customers. Key into what they really want from your company. In particular, knowing who your employees are and what drives them will help you to better develop your culture and hire those who will thrive at your company. At our company, all prospective hires complete DiSC profiles which allows us to better understand who they are, what drives them, what stresses them, and if they would be a good fit in the role for which they are being considered.

Companies such as Netflix realize that their “high-performance culture” is not for everyone. They know that some people may feel a constant fear of losing their jobs if they are not performing at a level 10 at all times. Netflix realizes this and does their best to hire people who genuinely understand their culture and thrive in such an environment.

Truly understanding prospective hires and how they would fit into your culture is an important piece of employee retention. Be upfront from the beginning by offering an accurate view of your culture, advancement opportunities and job expectations.

Cohesive Vision

It is important to accurately communicate the overall vision and mission of your organization. Make sure you keep your employees informed of changes the organization implements and ask for their input on how to improve and grow the business. Keeping your employees aware of what is going on with other areas of the business and seeking their advice will help them gain a clearer understanding of the company overall. It will be impossible to achieve the goals you have set for your company if your employees don’t see or understand the bigger picture.  

In the end, there is no set standard for what makes a healthy company culture. It depends on your line of business, your employees, and numerous other factors. You have the opportunity to mold your company’s culture however you see fit. What do you believe is important? What type of people do you believe will excel in your environment and what will drive them?

If you happen to be unhappy with your current corporate culture and find that it is hurting the bottom line, then it may be time for a change. Will it be easy? Definitely not. Will it be worth it? Yes! A line from HubSpot’s Culture Code, “A great culture helps people deliver their best work. Culture happens. Why not create a culture we love?”  

 

What is your company culture like? Does it make a difference? Please share your ideas below! 

Topics: Employer Insights

IT and the Business: Survey Results and Reflections

Posted by Briana Perrino on Wed, May 8, 2013 @ 11:05 AM

In our Think IT meetings, a common theme that arises no matter the topic is the perceived disconnect between IT and “the business.” With that being said, two of Think IT’s CIO group members, Mike Booke and Harold Knutson, decided that they would like to do a bit of research on why this gap exists and what can be done to improve it.

We sent out a 5- question survey to 797 Think IT group members on their behalf.  Members were given from April 5th, 2013 to April 14th, 2013 to take the survey and they received 74 responses (9.3%). While they weren’t necessarily surprised by the results they received, it was very insightful and could be used as a starting point for understanding and trying to create stronger relationships within an organization.

 

Here is a brief summary of their results:

  1. Please select no more than three of the top reasons why you believe the Business and IT don't partner more effectively. (Participants had the option to choose up to 3 predefined reasons and enter in a reason under “Other”) Here are the 4 top-rated reasons:
Question 1

 

  1. Of the three reasons you chose above; please select the one reason that is the largest contributor to the lack of partnership. (Participants again had the option to choose “Other” and provide their own reason) The same 4 responses from above were the top choices:

 Question 2

 

  1. Please select up to three main challenges impacting effective communication between the Business and IT. (Participants had the option to choose “Other” and enter in a reason) Top 2 results:
Question 3
4. Select the top 3 activities that would help improve Business and IT partnering. (Participants had the option to choose "Other" and enter in a reason) Top 3 results:  

Question 4

 

  1. From the top three activities you selected above, select the first and most important activity that would help begin to improve Business and IT partnering. (Participants had the option to choose “Other” and enter in the same reason from the previous question) The same 3 responses from above were the top choices:

 Question 5

 

Based on the results we have learned two major things:

  1. IT professionals feel that they need a greater understanding of the Business in order to be more effective identifying and meeting the needs of the business
  2. Many IT professionals see joint strategic planning as a way to bridge the gaps

 

There are many ways that organizations can leverage this type of information through the recognition that problems or inconsistencies exist.  We recently held an IT Leadership meeting to discuss the results of the survey and we learned that one of our CIO members had recognized this in his current company. He brought in an outside organizational consultant to assess the situation and provide feedback and strategies for improvement. This allowed his company to change their processes and partner more effectively. Having an outsider come in and objectively look at how your organization works can be truly eye opening and help ensure that all facets of the organization are on the same page.

While hiring an outsider may not be feasible for everyone, it is definitely something to consider if you notice that there is a big disconnect within your organization. Though, what is truly important is open communication through regular face-to-face discussions. This will help everyone gain a greater understanding of what is needed from both sides in order to meet the needs of the company and clients!

 

What are your thoughts on the relationship between IT and the Business? Is there really a gap? If so, what are your thoughts on how to bridge that gap? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Topics: Industry Trends, Employer Insights

Top 5 Ways to Motivate Your Employees

Posted by Briana Perrino on Tue, Apr 23, 2013 @ 12:04 PM

Employees can become unmotivated for a variety of reasons. It may be an individual’s work ethic or distractions at home. However, it is also important to acknowledge the fact that you play a large part in the motivation and success of your employees. If they don’t like coming to work, they are unlikely to put forth their best effort which can cost you and your company a lot of money. Here are 5 ways to keep your employees motivated, thus keeping your company successful:

Create a Friendly Work Environment

Google is a great example of a company that listens to what its employees need and understands that different people need different things. So, they do their best to cater to everyone by taking a very scientific approach to the way they design their spaces. They consider everything from the décor and furniture to lighting and ventilation systems when designing spaces within the offices.

Most employees spend at least 40 hours a week at work. So, why not create an environment that your employees enjoy? The more comfortable they are at work, the more likely they are to be excited about being there.

Recognize Their Accomplishments

Be sure to recognize your employees for a job well done not only publicly, but individually. Take your employee aside to let them know that you appreciate their hard work and that you think they are an asset to the company.

If you can’t be there in-person to thank them, consider sending them a handwritten note. Inc. wrote about Stanley McChrystal, a retired U.S. Army general, who once had more than 150,000 subordinates. He used to send more than 2,000 thank-you notes to his troops each year. Stanley said that he used to even receive thank you notes in return and found that some soldiers had framed his notes and hung them in their bunk areas. Yes, an email is much quicker to send, but taking the time to send a handwritten note can mean so much more.    

Pay Them Fairly

Acknowledging their accomplishments is great, but paying them fairly is also very important. If you have employees who continuously do great work and take on additional responsibilities, you need to pay them what they deserve. If they haven’t received a raise in two years or they get paid significantly less than the average salary for someone in their role, then you have a problem. Employees who know they aren’t getting paid enough they will become unmotivated and feel unappreciated. And eventually, they may leave.

Provide Coaching or Mentorship

Providing your employees with access to mentors or coaches within your company is another great way to keep them motivated. Not only is it something that could be extremely beneficial to their professional growth, but they will feel much more at home in an organization that seeks to nurture them professionally. Providing someone with access to the thoughts of a leader or more experienced colleague within your company may inspire them and inspired people are usually some of the most motivated.  

Get to Know Them

It is important to take the time to learn about each of your employees. Yes, you’re busy, but it doesn’t take that long to stop and have a short conversation with each of your employees every once in a while. This will help them to feel noticed and they will be more likely to do great work if they know they are being seen by their managers.

 

What are some ways that you try and motivate your employees? Please share your tips below! 

Topics: Employer Insights

What You Need to Know about Employee Onboarding

Posted by Briana Perrino on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 @ 09:03 AM

The first 3 months can make or break the future of a new hire at your company. It is essential to have an effective employee onboarding process in place to ensure that all new hires are able to hit the ground running. The purpose of employee onboarding is not only to make sure that a new hire is familiar with company policies and job duties, but to make them feel welcome and as though they truly fit in within your company’s environment.

A successful onboarding process will minimize the time it takes for employees to become productive and it will increase employee retention rates. We all know that the expense of trying to replace an employee can cost up to 3 times that person’s salary. So, why wouldn’t you do your best to ensure that your employees are happy?  

Do you want your new hires to feel lost and neglected during the first few months on the job? Or, do you want them to feel like they are joining an organization that truly cares about their sense of belonging and future success? Here are some suggestions to make the first 3 months of your employee onboarding process as effective as possible:

Day One:

There is nothing worse than an employee coming to his or her first day of work and not having a workspace ready. Be sure that the new hire has everything necessary to do his or her job including a phone, employee contact list and working voicemail. An extra special touch would be to have business cards ready. This will show that you see the new hire having a future at your company and that he or she is already a member of the team.

Next, have someone, preferably a supervisor or a top performer, give him or her a tour of the office and initiate introductions with coworkers. At my company, along with introducing new hires to everyone around the office, we send out an email to introduce them company-wide. This allows for interaction with employees from our other office which is located in a different state. This may not be directly applicable depending on the size of your company, but it creates the sense of joining a team.

Also, try and plan to take the new hire out to lunch with a group of coworkers in an informal setting. This will help the new employee to develop relationships with people which will, in turn, help them to become more comfortable in the new environment.

Be sure to schedule time for the new hire to sit down with his or her direct supervisor and review the responsibilities of the position, the company mission, and what the next few months in the position will look like. It is important to set expectations about output and performance from the very beginning. This will create less confusion and new hires are more likely to live up to expectations or even surpass them if they know what they are.

Finally, provide the new employee with all necessary HR forms and discuss any important policies and procedures. It is important to let new hires know the company’s processes regarding various matters such as resolving complaints. Also, be sure to discuss details like dress code, normal work hours, and overtime policies. Clarifying the company culture will help prevent the new hire from breaking any “rules” unintentionally.

A Few Fun Ideas:

  • Have the new employee fill out a short bio and pass it out to other employees
  • Provide branded company items such as mugs, shirts, pens, etc.
  • Send a card to a new hire’s house welcoming them and have it signed by key team members
  • Are there multiple people starting on the same day? Have them play a trivia game like Jeopardy based on your company’s information
  • Create a group on Facebook or LinkedIn for new hires in your company so they can connect with other employees even before their first day

 

Week One:

Prior to a new hire’s first day, you should have created an agenda for his or her first week. Try to schedule one-on-one meetings for the new hire with key staff members each day. Provide each of these staff members with the new hire’s resume and have each explain their own role, as well as how their roles will interact now and in the future. This will help the new employee to better understand the organization as a whole. 

There should also be frequent communication between the new hire and his or her supervisor during the first week. In addition to items discussed at the meeting on day one, the supervisor should share how decisions are made, timelines, performance metrics, etc. Once again, defining expectations will allow the new hire to be much more successful in their new role. A study by the Aberdeen group reports that 89% of new hires do not feel they have the necessary knowledge to be successful in their role. This is a problem that can easily be fixed!

The supervisor should also encourage feedback from the new employee about any ideas he or she has for improvement regarding operations, strategy, culture, organization, etc. Some may be hesitant to provide this type of feedback initially, but it is important to establish the foundation for this type of communication.

If the new hire is in a supervisory role, make sure that he or she meets with team members both one-one-one and as a group during that first week. This will allow the new hire to get a feel for each person’s responsibilities and work style. The goal is to help build the new team and get everyone on the same page in order to maintain or increase productivity.

 

Day 90:

It is important to maintain open lines of communication with a new hire and help him or her settle into the new position. After 3 months, there should be a formal feedback session with a new hire, as well as his or her supervisor in order to ascertain progress made and any concerns. During this meeting, any issues should be addressed and all parties involved should be confident going forward that the new hire is ready to be successful in his or her new role.

In the end, it really is in the best interest of both you and your employees to have a proper onboarding process in place. This will save you money in the long run and will generally make new employees happier and more enthusiastic about their new roles.

Please share your own experiences with employee onboarding, as well as any ideas that I haven’t covered below!

 

 

Topics: Employer Insights

10 Ways to Retain Your Top Talent

Posted by Briana Perrino on Wed, Dec 26, 2012 @ 13:12 PM

Retaining your top talent isn’t a new issue and this certainly isn’t the first blog post written about it. The IT industry is growing quickly and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT jobs in the U.S. are expected to increase by 22% by 2020. This means that there will be plenty of jobs and your top talent will have many opportunities to seek employment with other companies if necessary. 

The cost of losing your best employees can be staggering. It has been said that it can cost about 2 to 3 times an employee’s salary to replace them. Some simple math for you: If you lose an employee that makes $80,000 a year, it is quite likely that you could spend $240,000 trying to replace them. Those numbers are pretty serious, and so is the damage sustained when you lose your top talent.

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal which brought up an excellent point by relating Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” to the needs of top talent.  If you are not familiar with his theory, here is a brief synopsis: After a person has successfully fulfilled their needs in the physiological, safety, love, and esteem categories, they are left with the pursuit of self-actualization.

Self-actualization is the desire to reach one’s full potential and to become the best version of one’s self. Unfortunately, Maslow stated that he believed only 1% of people will ever truly achieve self-actualization. I’m not sure about your thoughts on this percentage, but I think it is entirely too low.

There are multiple factors that can contribute to a person’s inability to reach their full potential. But, as an employer, it is necessary to evaluate your current policies and practices to see if they aid an employee in their development or if they hinder them.  You need your top performers and they need to feel that they are reaching their full potential professionally. Here are 10 ways to keep your most talented employees and aid them on their path to self-actualization:

  1. Ignite Their Passions. Do your employees feel that they are being challenged by their work? Do they enjoy their work? Do you know the answers to these questions? If not, have a conversation with them in order to ascertain where their interests lie and what type of projects excite and engage them.
  2. Make Them Part of The Decision Making. If they are your top performers, then they probably have valuable ideas. Encourage them to share their thoughts and provide feedback.  Also, be sure to update them on what was discussed in meetings they were not invited to attend. Don’t keep them in the dark, especially when it comes to decisions that may affect their job.
  3. Recognize Their Accomplishments. Give them the praise that they deserve and let others know of their achievements. It is your job to make sure that even YOUR superiors know that this person is contributing to the success of the company.
  4. Acknowledge the Need for Work-Life Balance. Work is important, but it is not everything. Give your employees flexible work hours when necessary. Burnt out employees will be stressed and this may compromise the quality of their work. They need time to develop other parts of their life like spending time with friends and family, and pursuing their passions outside of work. So, keep the 60-hour work weeks to a minimum.
  5. Communicate Your Performance Expectations. Your best employees want to know what is expected of them and how to make you happy. Do you have a deadline in mind for a project? Are there critical findings you want them to include in their report? Let them know. They are (probably) not mind readers.
  6. Be Willing to Pay for Added Responsibilities. If you plan to promote an individual or even if you find yourself consistently asking them to take on additional responsibilities, you need to pay them accordingly. Money is surprisingly a very low priority on the job satisfaction scale; however, it is necessary to pay your employees fairly. If the work is piling on and they are not receiving additional compensation for it, they will look for another job that pays them what they deserve. If it is a serious matter of budget, then you will need to have a conversation with them to thoroughly explain that you want to give them more money and will, but can’t afford to do so at this time.
  7. Do Not Make Them Compensate for Poor Performers. When your top performers constantly need to pick up the slack for unmotivated or unskilled workers, they will resent you and eventually leave. It is necessary to address issues of poor performance sooner rather than later. Your top talent likes to be around other talented people for whom they have don’t have to compensate.
  8. Provide Career Development Opportunities. According to a Forbes article, more than 60% of the people they interviewed said that they didn’t feel that their career goals aligned with the plans their employers had for them. Sit down and discuss your employee’s short-term and long-term goals. Discover what they are interested in and see if your can provide opportunities for them to explore their interests, whether it is outside training or taking on new projects.
  9. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Maybe this is an obvious one, but it is a must to treat everyone with respect, top performer or otherwise. Treat everyone as you want to be treated and remember that they are not just your employees, they are people too.  Keep in mind the saying that “Employees don’t quit working for companies; they quit working for their bosses.”
  10. Give Feedback. Your top performers want to know what you really think and they want your feedback on what they can do to improve. This also provides you with the opportunity to see how they feel that they are progressing and what interests them. If you refrain from doing so, your employees are likely to think that you are not interested in their development or their future with the organization.

Regardless of your opinion of Maslow’s theory, I think we can agree that most of us are trying to be the best we can be! Your top IT performers, especially, have many options and will look elsewhere if they feel that you and your company are not aiding them on their path to fulfillment.  

What are your suggestions for how to retain your best employees? Share them below! 

Topics: Employer Insights