What Makes Your Company Different?

When I was in high school, I joined the track team one year, not because I was a great runner (I wasn’t!) but because it was so enjoyable being a part of the team and cheering on my friends. But when it came to my own 1- or 2-mile races, I discovered that I lacked the competitive spirit. I found it more rewarding to make friends with the other runners than to actually beat them on the track. Needless to say, I never won a single race!

In the competitive business world, however, you must find ways to stay ahead. As the demand for knowledge workers increases, companies are vying for the same candidates to fill their open positions. You’d be amazed to hear what companies are doing to attract top talent in the tech field, for instance. Hosting recruiting parties at arcades or breweries, tempting candidates with manicures and haircuts, and allowing new employees to design their desk spaces are just a few tactics being used.

And perks that used to be considered unique, such as flex hours, free gym membership, company car or phone, or bonuses, just aren’t that unique anymore. What can you do to differentiate your company from others to attract the best candidates?

Just like no two people are alike, every company is unique, with its own personality or company culture. If you stop and assess your company’s unique traits, you can leverage them to attract top talent. Take your facility, for instance. Do you have a large enough campus to offer an employee-run vegetable garden, like one company proudly offers? Or like another of our customers, are you located near a beach, where your flex hours could allow employees to surf when the waves are just right?

Another point to consider is what your company produces. Is your product one that your employees could benefit from using? One of our clients, a bicycle manufacturer, offers a bonus based on fitness. They give employees a 1.5-hour lunch break on Fridays for exercise. For every so many minutes employees spend exercising, they earn a gift card and get one bike at cost per year. Now that’s a smart move—not only do employees feel rewarded, but the employer benefits also, since research shows that fit workers make better employees!

The NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) consulted with Scott Kuethen, our CEO recently, about what “out of the box” perks we or our small business clients are offering. (Click here to read their great article Tap Their Interests.) Kuethen shared that he’s seen companies provide a monthly barbecue with beer, work-from-home days, a cross-fit gym in the office, an espresso bar, daily catered lunch, and a chaplain for their workforces. Each of these businesses has enhanced its culture by including something special that gives employees both tangible value and something to brag about to their friends, thereby increasing others’ perception of their company brand.

But the most important benefit an employer can offer, Kuethen encourages, is the opportunity to perform meaningful work. Knowledge workers who feel that their work matters in some way are more likely to stay engaged and become their organizations’ most enthusiastic promoters:

In my experience, the younger generation (Gen X & Y) workforce doesn’t find work security fully satisfying. They want more than just a job. They actually want to be a part of meaningful work. So in return for an environment that gives them a sense that they are valued for their uniqueness, they pour themselves into their work, and they’re more committed and more engaged. These employees are also at the core of true social media when it comes to promoting an employment brand and attracting other talented knowledge workers. When it’s promoted with sincerity and genuineness, offering meaningful work has the added benefit of attracting like-minded candidates who are driven and committed to the cause.

As an example, we have a client who manufactures a bio-med product that decreases infant mortality. Now that’s inspiring! Potential candidates light up when they hear that. This is something to be excited about. Who wouldn’t want to work for a company who does this? It doesn’t matter if we’re recruiting an engineer or a sales manager, being on a team that saves infants’ lives is…well, deeply meaningful.

So why would a knowledge worker want to come to work for your organization? In this competitive field, it’s time to brainstorm and capitalize on your company’s uniqueness. Dig down to discover ways your company is making a difference. Figure out what your company culture has to offer, and set a perks plan into motion to attract great employees and keep them happy. Otherwise, like me with my short-lived running career, you could be left behind!

By Marcianne Kuethen

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