Five Ways to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Today’s hires are tomorrow’s leaders, says BUILDER blogger Kent Elliott.

Planning for the future of a company is greatly dependent on the talent that is in place today, and whether or not a building firm is able to retain that top talent in the future. Many builders are not aware of changing employment trends and unknowingly miss opportunities to attract and retain the employees that will shape the future of their company.

For example, tomorrow’s leaders are Millennials and Gen Xers. These two groups have a different outlook on employment and the workplace than today’s leaders, many of whom are Baby Boomers. As more companies look to bolster their teams, these five tips will help to retain top talent.

Define career growth and opportunity. The top driver for Millennials, as discovered during RETS Associates’ recent proprietary study of Millennials in real estate, is career growth and opportunity. Companies that successfully retain top talent provide individuals with opportunities tailored to their strengths and defined paths for career advancement. When a company identifies an individual employee’s specific motivators and presents a timeline for his or her advancement, employees gain valuable insight into the future of the company and the opportunities within. To capitalize on those opportunities, the employee will need to perform, but the communication from the company about potential advancement and expectations will lay the groundwork for an identifiable career path for that team member to pursue.

Focus compensation on market rates and worth. To retain top talent, a company must be willing to provide at- or above‑market-rate compensation. This market rate varies depending on the cycle and size of the market. For example, a builder in a bolstering market, like the San Francisco Bay Area, must invest more in an employee compared to a builder operating in a more stable market, such as Los Angeles or the Inland Empire. In fact, over the past four years, base salaries for a number of different functional segments have increased up to 40% in the Bay Area, whereas, they have increased by only 20% in Los Angeles. The reality is that if a building firm does not take care of its top performers, another one will. In today’s war for talent, many companies are prepared to pay at-or-above market rates to secure top talent and future leaders.

Align the team vision and culture. When grooming a prospective leader, it is critical that the employee is aligned with the company’s vision for the future. Many successful companies give top talent a “peek behind the curtain” to understand where the company is heading and where the employee fits into the bigger picture. Successful companies find ways to incorporate the feedback from Millennials and Gen Xers who want to be involved with and contribute to their employers’ future. When companies involve Millennials and Gen Xers in this manner, the next generation of leaders will be equipped to carry forward the existing culture and vision. This aligning of culture and vision also cultivates loyalty and accountability to achieve the vision of the company’s future.

Offer flexible work options. Generally, young talent is ambitious and eager to perform, and will often commute the extra miles for a job. However, commute times can take a toll on a person. Studies show that a commute in excess of 45 minutes decreases the chances of a person remaining in a position over a long period of time. Companies can use commute time to their advantage when competing for talent. To avoid losing a prospective hire or current employee to a rival that offers a shorter commute, companies must emphasize the value of compensation, corporate culture, growth opportunities, flex schedules, and telecommuting, or some other personalized motivator in their recruiting and retention efforts.

Remember the war for talent. During the Great Recession, many candidates gratefully accepted any offer — even ones that dramatically cut their compensation — to simply have a job. Since the upturn in the building market, the pool of top talent has shrunk and companies now offer competitive compensation packages and opportunities to bring candidates on board, including poaching from other firms. This “war for talent” has created greater expectations of what companies can and should offer a candidate, both in hiring and retaining. Because strong talent is at a premium, companies must “bubble wrap” their employees by providing growth opportunities, approximate timelines for promotion, and competitive compensation packages. Those companies that provide top-tier packages for strong performers will be the ones who employ and groom the next generation of leaders.