Creating Cultures And Environments That Attract And Retain Top Talent
the circle of life, the American workforce is constantly changing. New hires
eventually grow into managers, and sooner or later CEOs hand over their reins to
another executive. It’s a generational cycle within the labor force that’s
currently attracting a good deal of attention as the largest generation (for
now) in the U.S. reaches retirement age.
In fact, the Office for National Statistics estimates that approximately 10,000 baby boomers retire each day in the United States. Conversely, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, making up 35 percent of the American workforce. What’s more, an article on Forbes.com states that millennials presently hold about 20 percent of all leadership roles—a percentage that will only continue to climb as more baby boomers retire.
What Matters With the generations shifting roles, the environments in which we work will continue to change as well. Nowadays, employees are seeking more than just a paycheck from their place of employment. As a matter of fact, recent studies and surveys of the current workforce show that employees are looking for employers who can provide flexibility and balance. And one Gallup poll, called the “State of the American Workplace Report”, suggests that “the benefits and perks that employees truly care about are those that offer them greater flexibility, autonomy, and the ability to lead a better life”.
Indeed, work/life balance is becoming increasingly important, especially to the younger portion of the workforce—many of whom are settling down, starting families, and raising children. That Gallup poll goes on to say that present-day employees “place an importance on having a life—not just a job”. The “State of the American Workplace Report” also revealed that employee engagement increases when employees are given the freedom to work remotely instead of always working in an office setting.
Mindful Missions To coincide with this newer employment mindset, some companies are
beginning to rethink their missions and core values. Oftentimes, these revamped
mission statements put a company’s employees at the forefront, treating them as
the case for at least two of the companies within the self-storage industry:
SpareFoot and storEDGE. These companies both sought to create workplaces that
would attract and retain talented personnel.
culture is a result and not a cause,” explains Dan Miller, owner of Kansas
City-based storEDGE. “We decided to create a great place to work and to hire
great people. Life is short; you spend a third of your life working, so we feel
strongly that people need to love coming to work, which leads to better
products, better customer satisfaction, and better employee relationships.”
Gordon, founder and CEO of Austin-based SpareFoot, had the same guiding
principal when he formed his company; his vision was to create a place where
people would enjoy going to work—a place where employees are treated with
respect, rewarded for good work, and encouraged to grow.
companies treat their employees as their greatest assets. And Miller and Gordon
agree that every employee—regardless of their position—must be on board with
the company’s mission to make it work.
starts at the top,” says Miller. “The owner has to believe that employees and
culture are the key ingredients to profit and success.”
Gibbens, human resources manager for storEDGE, adds, “It’s so important to
prioritize and invest in making the right hiring decisions. The people make the
culture, so once you know what kind of people you want, don’t settle.”
addition, Gordon, who enjoys maintaining a light-hearted and fun environment at
SpareFoot, notes that, in order for a company’s culture to flourish, its
executives must clearly communicate its mission and core values to the entire
organization. SpareFoot’s mission and values are emphasized during the vetting
process, the training process, and over the course of employment. Employee
handbooks and staff meetings are two places where employees are reminded of the
company’s core values and mission.
great and truly successful culture is one that has the same vision,” Miller
says. “Many times, the management team has one perception of the culture and
the employees another. You can’t truly have a great culture until the vision is
real, so ask the employees and see how that aligns with the management.”
Unique Environments Similar to Google, which boasts some of the
country’s most impressive employee benefits and amenities, such as paid
maternity/paternity leaves, game rooms, free meals, gyms, massage therapists,
and plenty of opportunities for personal and professional growth through
various classes, both SpareFoot and storEDGE have unique workspaces that foster
collaboration and camaraderie amongst its employees.
starters, SpareFoot utilizes an open seating arrangement, with no cubicles and
only a handful of offices that are reserved for human resources and finances. “All executives sit out in the open like everyone else,” says
Gordon. There are also “free,
open” workspaces that enable employees to work away from their desks. He
describes SpareFoot’s headquarters as “warm and collaborative”. Other areas
that create inviting atmospheres include courtyards, picnic areas, and kitchens
with all the tools necessary to prepare a meal.
of which, both storEDGE and SpareFoot offer plenty of fuel for their hardworking
employees. storEDGE provides an in-house coffee bar, unlimited snacks, and
catered lunches, and SpareFoot has its own personal chef on staff to whip up
free lunches for its team.
companies have found numerous ways to allow employees to take breaks from work
as well. For instance, storEDGE has pinball machines, flexible work hours, and
bring-your-dog-to-work days. SpareFoot employees can enjoy ping pong and
foosball as well as a “no-policy vacation policy” and off-site companywide
events such as happy hours and its recent day-long karaoke outing.
in regard to the unique workspace at SpareFoot, Gordon mentions that his
employees are very productive. “We haven’t had any issues with employee abuse,”
he says, adding that no one has taken advantage of any of the company’s
policies, nor are they distracted by the fun, easygoing atmosphere.
Bountiful Benefits As Gibbens notes, “You need the right environment, benefits, and vision to attract the right people.” So, what kinds of incentives are companies offering? From basic to mind-blowing, companies have thought of numerous ways to reward and reimburse their employees for their hard work and dedication. Here are some to consider:
vision, and life insurance
Paid sick time
exercise spaces or free gym memberships – Brute Storage offers an on-site yoga
workspace options – MakeSpace allows its employees to build their own
reimbursement programs – SpareFoot pays its employees for utilizing public
transportation and/or bicycles to get to work.
giving – Many employees, especially millennials, want to work for companies
that “give back”. They also enjoy volunteering to add “purpose” to their lives.
Therefore, collaborations with charities and non-profit organizations that
enable them to make a difference are rewarding.
Dollars And Sense Of course, none of the amenities and benefits
mentioned throughout this article are free to implement. However, Miller
emphasizes that it’s money well spent. “Industry leading benefits programs,
food, drinks, entertainment, furniture—it all adds up,” he says. “But, in the
long run, and when compared to our industry’s technology competitors, we expect
our employees to outperform in terms of technology innovation, customer
satisfaction, and productivity … When you look at payroll being over 50 percent
of the costs to run our business, why wouldn’t you spend a majority of your
life figuring out how to make that a better outcome?”
to take the time to ask your employees what matters most to them before you put
a new perk in place. There is no sense in spending money on an idea that they
can’t get behind or stuff they won’t use. And above all: Make the experience
one in which your employees will feel they that their input was valued, as
everyone should be contributing to the success of your company’s culture.
Erica Shatzer is the editor of Mini-Storage Messenger, Self-Storage Now!, and Self-Storage Canada.