Your Talent Is Your Future: 5 Tips to Attract and Keep the Best Workers

by Anne Deeter Gallaher

September 14, 2017

Have you ever noticed optimism is contagious? People who believe today is full of opportunity, and
tomorrow ripe with possibilities are the type of employees business owners dream of having on their

Millennials are the largest generation to enter the U.S. workforce, which brings new challenges and
opportunities for business owners. These 18- to 35-year- olds are 69.2 million strong and wield a
powerful voice. They are our future. But how do we recruit them and persuade them to work for us and
bring their optimism and passion to our companies?

Nashville has done a tremendous job of attracting and motivating top talent to start businesses and put
down roots in Music City. FoxFuel Creative in two short years has gone from a home-based basement
office, to a historic address at the L&C Tower, to purchasing a $1.75 million building and growing their
creative team to ten employees. They are attracting top-tier talent and clients from across the country
with their enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity. This influx of Millennials is one reason why Nashville is
ranked No. 8 on LinkedIn’s list of cities that has gained the most workers, with 44.2 of every 10,000
LinkedIn members having moved to middle Tennessee in the last year.

Messiah College Students Travel to Nashville.

So, how do you keep new talent motivated? Whether you’re a company of two or 200, if we focus on
these 5 tips, we’re nurturing our most valuable company asset and our future!

1. Invest in them. Set aside funds in your budget for professional development. Encourage
employees to attend conferences, take higher-ed classes, and enroll in executive education
programs at universities like Belmont or Vanderbilt. Make it known that you are depending on
their big ideas and self-motivation. Show passion in their interests, too. When my middle son
was hired for his first job, the CEO had recruited him on his college campus. From the first
introduction, there was chemistry. They shared common interests like the outdoors, hunting,
fishing, and Scouting. The connection enticed him to join the company in spite of the lower
salary they offered. He liked the boss and believed in their principles—that matters if you want
your employees to build a future with you. Every investment in your employees will be returned
five-fold, not only to the bottom line but to the company culture.

2. Teach them. Tech savvy, intelligent Millennials are graduating college in record numbers, but no
one comes to their first job with full mastery of skills. Reach out to young hires, and provide
opportunities for conversation, personal guidance, and mentorship. Communicate clearly and
explain the company policies, including how the business makes money so they understand the
art of doing business and how their time should be spent. If they don’t understand how the
company makes a profit, they won’t have a clear idea of how the company can grow. Share your
business experiences and tell stories of when you succeeded and when you failed. Being real
and authentic at work is a catalyst for everyone’s personal growth.

3. Allow them to serve from Day 1. Millennials want to make a difference—but their difference
may not be your difference. That’s a good thing. “Purpose is the new way of doing business,”
says John Dame, leadership expert and founder of the Business Evolution Conference. “In the
past, it seemed that businesses needed to turn a profit for years (if not decades) before they
allowed themselves to explore a higher purpose. Millennials are rewriting the world of
engagement: their new model aims to express business and purpose in the same moment. We need to bring more than just employment, product, and money to the table. This new generation wants to be a part of giving back—a focus on enrichment of the community instead of just the business itself. Purpose is meaning. An employee connected with purpose of a business does 1.5 times the amount of work as an employee who is disengaged.” When a cluster of companies create purpose in their work, it creates a community of difference makers and that can define an entire region—indeed it has in Nashville.

4. Ask for their help. This generation spends hours per day with a smart phone in their hands. One report states that 88 percent of Millennials get their news from Facebook and 50 percent from Instagram. There is much we can learn from them. If you notice a new hire on your team is savvy on Instagram or regularly uses Facebook Live, ask for a social media primer. It’s what Burson-Marsteller calls Reverse Mentoring—and it builds relationships across generations and business lines. A powerful company brand requires a powerful company digital tattoo. The most authentic way to achieve this is to have passionate brand ambassadors in your workforce. People who share experiences at work because they love what they do, they have the freedom to grow, and they believe in their employer.

5. Give them the tools they need. The Boomers will have to adjust to the Millennials and know
when to be flexible if we want to keep them. My second hire at my firm was my oldest son. He
had just graduated from college with a marketing degree. It didn’t take me long to notice that
his work style was entirely different than mine. His desk was full of devices, and his ability to
multi-task fluently across platforms, and dip in and out of conversations was enviable but
certainly antithetical to my work environment. He had music on while he was working on his
laptop, texting on his iPhone, and was still able to answer the office phone and tweet. I gave him
a budget for office equipment, but I let him choose the laptop and mobile device that worked
best for him. I did the same with my other employees. These are small concessions to ensure
your team is connected and productive. Ask them what they need to deliver high quality, highly
valued work, and then give them those tools.

If you want a thriving business that Millennials want to be a part of, it doesn’t have to have a pool table
or free craft beer (that might help!), but it does have to be an environment where optimism thrives,
curiosity is welcomed, and passion is stoked.

Anne Public Relations Brand Strategy/Awareness