“If you build a better workplace, people want to join it.”

  • Mike Novakoski, Become Unmistakable: Start the Journey from Commodity to Oddity

In a tight labor market, there are few things more frustrating than losing talent to a competitor. On the flip side, when a top employee from a competitor comes knocking on your door for a job—there are few things more validating. To be on the better side of that situation, you have to take a hard look at your organization’s leadership and culture and ask yourself, “Do people want to work here?

If your employees would go to a competitor for the same amount of money—or even for a salary increase—you have room for improvement. In our experience, prospective employees came knocking on our door not because we could offer more perks or prestige, but because we are known for managing our business with compassion and prioritizing our employees’ happiness. We invest in the personal and professional growth of our employees, and we recognize the individuality of each of our team members. This type of culture creates raving fans of your organization. People in the industry hear about it—and they want to be a part of it.

Building a workplace where people want to join is a major time and money saver as it relates to talent attraction and recruiting efforts. If you don’t have potential employees knocking on your door, you likely don’t have a robust pipeline of candidates eagerly waiting to work for you when your business has a staffing need. Without that pipeline, options for filling a vacancy can carry risk. For example, many companies will act quickly, overlook a candidate’s shortcomings and make a hasty hire, which can have a negative impact in the long-run. Other options include having to offer disproportionately higher compensation to recruit talent from a competitor, or overloading your current staff to pick up the slack while HR starts the search from scratch.

Alternatively, if your culture is consistently attracting talent, you have the opportunity to identify good hires before you need them. Consider this example from our book:

“[At Elzinga & Volkers] we are constantly interviewing potential candidates even if we don’t have an opening. If we find a good fit, we make an offer. We agree on the compensation and benefits, they shake on it, but rather than increase overhead when we don’t need it, these pre-arranged, future employees go into our ‘Virtual Employee Waiting Room.’ This way, our competitor pays our future employees while they’re waiting for us to call them. We’ve had senior project managers happily wait six months for our call, because they knew they had lined up the future job they wanted.”


If you want to learn how you can improve your management style and company culture to attract top talent before it’s needed, connect with us.