Building up a strong business team takes a combination of creativity and diligence — especially as job growth in the U.S. remains pretty volatile from month to month. Retention has been a challenge with quit rates holding at all-time highs. This is a reflection of a job market where employees have the upper hand. There are more options with the volume of open positions, leading to increased negotiating power.
The hiring process along with employee engagement, development, and retention continues to challenge organizations as they work to build organizations with strong, dynamic teams.
In this article, we will cover some practical ways to build a strong business team — starting in what may seem like an unconventional place. We will also share tips on how you can position what you already have to attract more top talent to your business.
Retain the Talent You Already Have
You can’t build a strong team if your current talent is continually leaving. Some turnover is natural — according to a 2020 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure of employees is just over 4 years. Turnover can be employee-initiated for personal reasons (voluntary turnover) or employer-initiated (involuntary turnover). But, high levels of turnover can limit an organization’s ability to focus on business growth, negatively impact brand image with prospective candidates, and reduce overall productivity.
Over the last two years, the U.S. Labor Market has seen an unprecedented trend in resignations. The situation has been coined “The Great Resignation” and showcases a job hop on a massive scale. The Great Resignation has left organizations grappling to navigate the ripple effects of record turnover and reevaluating their talent acquisition and employee retention strategies.
Organizations can only accelerate their efforts to build a strong business team of talent once they pinpoint the main reasons employees are resigning in the first place.
Individuals who excel at their jobs do not decide to quit out of the blue. A 2019 Retention Report from the Work Institute revealed that “3 in 4 employees who quit could have been retained by their employers.” And only 22% of surveyed employees left due to relocation, retirement, or termination. Their desire to seek a better future was spurred by a deep dissatisfaction with their working conditions.
An increasing number of professionals realize they are people before employees, and their job is only one aspect of their lives. Disruptions in our personal and professional lives also forced many to reconsider their career aspirations, work-life balance, and long-term goals. Specific reasons for resigning have included burnout, low wages, lack of benefits, poor work-life balance, employer behavior/decisions, misaligned management styles, and more.
Once an employee has decided to leave, organizations should conduct detailed exit interviews to better understand why an employee has chosen to resign and pinpoint where organizational changes can be made to retain others. However, it may be even more helpful to consider conducting stay interviews. Listen to what your employees tell you and make changes where possible — your employees and business will thank you for this by providing the foundation for a strong business team.
Here are 4 ways to reduce turnover and set the stage for building a strong team.
Instill confidence and direction. People like to support causes they believe in with a clear purpose and intent — give them one. Remember why your organization started and the challenges it hopes to solve. Make sure your employees know this information and can see the results of what they are working towards.
Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Be intentional in uncovering problems and challenges, and then be just as intentional in resolving them. Help your employees prioritize their work-life balance. Challenge your team with projects that excite them and encourage the sharing of fresh ideas.
Trust the process. Processes ensure consistency and continuity while reducing the risk of error or future problems. The difference between those who retain their employees and those with higher turnover is their integrity in the process. Own up to mistakes and work to correct them as quickly as possible.
Appreciate the employees you have. While compensation is often an underlying motivator, a lack of recognition and employee appreciation has more effect on employee morale and retention rates than income level alone. Employee appreciation is a meaningful way to make employees feel valued, recognized, and an essential part of your organization.
In your efforts to build a strong business team, your goal is to not just understand and reduce the reasons why employees leave but to simultaneously appreciate and increase the influences on employee retention.
Build Your Team From Within
When building a strong team, it is important to focus on the employees you have and build up your “dream team” from within. How can you accomplish this? With quality employee development programs. Employee development is ongoing learning and/or training supported or created by employers that enable employees to improve their skills and knowledge. For current and future roles within an organization, employee development allows you to train your employees for what is next and to improve upon what may be lacking.
There are three key elements that an employee development plan should include for building a strong business team, especially when part of a larger employee engagement strategy.
A focus on the bigger picture. Understand where your organization is headed and what your employees need to know to get there.
Define opportunities. This means not just outlining opportunities to strengthen the role of employees, but also determining where gaps in critical knowledge exist.
A method to measure progress and progression. Even if your employee development opportunities are informal, track progress and accomplishments to reveal growth, encourage progress, and reward gains.
Your employees can be the biggest investment made in your organization. Make sure you manage that investment well by creating an effective employee development program in a way that fits the needs of your business and employees. It matters for the longevity of your organization and increased employee tenure.
Forty years ago when many of today’s seasoned professionals started their careers, employee tenure looked very different than it does now. Employees would join organizations and work there for nearly their entire careers. They would become part of a business’s growth and development. In the last two decades, there have been significant shifts in the average tenure length and overall level of commitment from employees and their employers. Leadership styles have also shifted from transactional to transformational in more recent years as employers become part of employees’ personal growth and development.
One important tool in that development is a well-defined career path that maps and guides employee progress from where they are to where they want to be. Done well, this path may allow them to accomplish that as part of a strong business team within your organization, rather than piecing together a career progression plan with various roles and companies.
Here are four benefits of developing career paths for your employees:
Recruitment. A well-thought-out recruitment strategy can help to improve the attractiveness of your organization to potential employees, as well as identify areas where you need more talent and which positions you should be hiring for first.
Performance Management. By mapping out an employee’s career you can provide direction for new hires, structure for employee performance, remove blocks in career growth like plateaus, stagnation, and foster equity in employee advancement.
Employee Retention. Companies that excel in internal mobility retain employees for an average of 5.4 years. In companies that struggle in this area, the average retention span is nearly half that at 2.9 years.
Succession Planning. Preparing every employee for their next role (not just leadership transition changes) provides greater competencies across all areas of your business and smooth transitions when someone does leave. Career paths allow organizations to be proactive instead of hastily reactive to vacancies, regardless of the reason.
Employees need to be able to see themselves in your future plans to have a better understanding of your corporate vision. A critical component to building a strong business team is ensuring your employees know they have a future with you, and more importantly, how their careers can grow with you.
Create a Desirable Place to Work
Beyond compensation, benefits, and even career development there is another important factor for building a strong business team — culture. Your company’s culture is a culmination of your employees’ feelings about working for your organization. Imagine the perfect-fit hire for your available role. If that individual is happy at their current company and not actively looking for a new opportunity, what would motivate them to leave their position to join your organization?
Creating a desirable place to work can act as a key driver of talent management and acquisition, and this can be done by defining your employee value proposition (EVP). In the simplest terms, this is the value your employees gain from working at your organization rather than a competitor’s.
An employee value proposition establishes credibility with candidates and differentiates your employer brand to attract top talent. It details what value your current and prospective employees will gain by establishing and developing their careers with you versus anyone else, but especially over your competition.
When creating an effective EVP, you might answer one or more of the following questions:
Why would someone leave their position to join your agency?
Would they be swayed by your level of community involvement?
Could they be motivated by the way you recognize and reward top performers?
Is there proof of your positive company culture?
Do other employees share that your agency is the place to work and advance your career?
Do you offer a market-leading compensation package?
An EVP doesn’t just explain why someone should join your agency but also reminds current talent why they should stay. Letting employees know they matter to your company can be a major boost to morale, which can have many positive benefits for organizations, including increased productivity and performance, increase loyalty, improved retention rates, a more cohesive team, increase creativity and innovation, and improved profitability. Healthy team morale often has tangible results for your bottom line. The best news may be that the most effective ways to boost morale for employees involve simple acts with an intent to connect on a real and personal level. You can read more about how to boost morale and inspire employees in this article.
Your best efforts to create a desirable place to work with meaningful value and an intentional focus on morale can fall flat if transparency isn’t included. Transparency in business enhances company culture, increases employee engagement, attracts top talent, and improves communication — all critical elements for building a strong business team. Current and prospective employees want transparency in business to be reflected in honesty about the organization, open communication from leadership, and clarity around their future.
A whopping 87% of workers surveyed by Slack in the 2018 Future of Work study said they hoped their next job would be transparent. Another study from employee-feedback company TINYpulse surveyed more than 40,000 workers and found that transparency was the number one factor contributing to their overall happiness. Transparency in business allows your employees, current and perspective, to clearly understand who you are, the kind of culture you have fostered within your organization, and why they should become part of your business team.
Now, Let’s Hire Top Talent
With the right foundation in place to retain your talent, develop your current employees, and build an attractive culture — you are now ready to focus on hiring top talent to build a strong business team. However, jumping right in and hoping for the best is not a strategy and will likely lead to unsuccessful results.
Your organizational goals and current business needs will help you determine an ideal pace for hiring new talent and how aggressive your approach needs to be along with the types of candidates you need to attract.
Creating recruitment strategies for both active and passive candidates is crucial to expanding your talent pool and ensuring that your organization finds the most suitable candidate for the job. By creating a unique plan with tactics that fit your needs and the different kinds of candidates out there, you will use your time and resources most efficiently. This is important because finding top-performers requires a larger talent pool than many organizations plan for. A larger pool of candidates provides a wider range of skills and allows organizations to have a tighter qualification and selection process.
When hiring for top talent, the most effective way to determine what a successful hire will look like is to identify the objectives of the role you’re filling and answer two essential questions:
What does your new hire need to accomplish (specifically in the first year)?
What skills, talents, or abilities are needed to reach these goals?
The hiring process is a systematic way of moving as effectively as possible from the point of having an open position to the point of having your perfect-fit hire begin their first day of employment. When you have clearly outlined what you would like your successful hire to accomplish, you can use that information to create a framework on how to identify top candidates, as well as how they measure up to your pre-determined criteria. You can read up on several more tips on determining what a successful hire might look like to your organization here.
Building Your Strong Business Team
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you should have gathered by now that building a strong business team won’t happen overnight either. However, there are productive steps you can take that will move you toward that goal.
First, flip the conventional process around and start with a focus on employee retention so that you are truly building a strong team rather than replacing team members. Next, invest in building your team from within by outlining clear paths and providing tools to support career progression. Along with your employee development efforts, pay close attention to your company culture. Foster the reasons why people join your organization and why they stay with full transparency.
Efforts to expand and strengthen your team should come last with sound strategies that incorporate passive and active search strategies. Following a structured process will aid in making perfect-fit hires as your build a strong business team.
Don’t stop here though, download a copy of our Employee Engagement Strategies Guide below with more helpful tips to retain, develop, and engage your strong team.