Why do women want to stay at certain organizations? Opportunities for advancement and innovation are important, for sure. But recently I’ve heard from many women employed at large, well-known companies who said that they choose to stay because there is a true interest in growing their professional career.
One person told me she is regularly offered double her current salary to join a new startup or rival company. Her answer? “No– never again. I worked with more than a few and in each case, they just didn’t get how to treat their employees with respect, how to provide career advancement opportunities, or simply create a work environment that people are actually excited to work at.”
Wait this is not how you want your company to be thought of. You want your company to be the place people want to be part of and the best way to do that is to grow your employees.
Many CEOs think of what their brand just in terms of marketing and advertising. But there’s another aspect to branding that gets overlooked far too often— the people working for you.
Your employees are your brand, and they often have more direct contact with your customers than you do. And don’t think for a moment that we as consumers don’t pick up on how engaged they are when we interact with them. We remember the experience and how it makes us feel. That helps us decide whether to continue to buy your product or services. And of course, customer’s thoughts are eagerly shared online and by word of mouth.
Hiring great people and enthusiastically retaining them is a large part of how smart CEOs view their roles. For employees, deciding where to work is increasingly not about just money and benefits (and it shouldn’t be because frankly, those are expected). It is about purpose, what your company stands for - the why, and the opportunities it provides.
Truly great CEOs understand that it’s not just about growing the company and increasing the bottom line. Investing in growing your employees will accomplish all that and much more. Here are some tips how to do that and create raving customers fans as well:
1. Provide volunteer opportunities with non-profits where your employees can shine in a new area and help a great cause.
2. Encourage your employees to speak conferences in a way that builds their reputation (and that of your company).
3. Provide regular opportunities for both onsite and offsite professional development. Give them a budget to attend conferences.
4. Encourage employees to offer internal workshops for their peers after attending a conference so they can update others on what they learned and changes in your industry.
5. Tuition reimbursement and student loan assistance. Maybe it’s as simple as a significant bonus for longevity promoted as student loan assistance.
6. Have formal career path conversations with each employee. Allow and encourage them to try out different areas and projects.
7. Consider offering a quirky perk. No, not ping pong or lunch – although lunch is nice – but how about commuter cost reimbursement, a vacation budget for the family every other year or better yet a paid sabbatical program where they can take 3 months off after a certain amount of time to pursue their special interest.
8. Be inclusive and respectful. Welcome new hires and introduce them. Get them involved. Make it clear that their voice is needed and wanted, and set them up to succeed. I have heard of people leaving new jobs because their first week was a disaster (there physically was nowhere for them to work, no one knew they were coming and weren’t sure for what they were hired for, etc.)
9. Keep your word. Don’t promise new offices in 6 months if you aren’t certain it’s going to happen. If you made a promise and can’t deliver on it, be the one to tell them first, fast, and why. Keep your employees in the loop.
10. Don’t keep a bully on your team, no matter how much you think you need them. Keeping a bully is disrespectful to your other employees, and will drive them away (as well as your customers). New hires immediately assess how the long-term employees are treated. If they see bullies tolerated and others treated poorly, they are not going to stay.
These are some ideas to grow your employees, but to truly be on target don’t hesitate to ask them directly. See what really interests them. See how you can provide those kinds of opportunities. It will pay off.
Be the company that people want to be part of by growing your employees.
Lisa Guida is the CEO of Why Leap Alliance Inc. she coaches, speaks and writes about women in traditionally male industries and impactful leadership. She also hosts the Podcast Women Who Work With Men which is launching season 2 in October.