Attract and Retain – Back to Basics

Although the dynamics surrounding the balance of power between workers and employers has indeed changed, it is possible we’re kind of overthinking things while we struggle to fill open roles in a tight labor environment. The reality is, most of what workers want is the same as it ever was.

So, here is a rundown of the things we may have all lost sight of. Everyone is competing to attract talent in today’s environment which has tilted decidedly back toward favoring labor over employers. The “Great Resignation” and other COVID-driven dynamics have reshuffled the deck and workers are being far more discerning about where they work, why they work and how they work. This new normal is making it difficult for hiring authorities to continue to embrace the status quo. But what workers want is pretty simple and, if you can deliver on the promise of each of the following things, you’ll not only attract talent, but be better equipped to retain it.


Whether it is during the on-boarding process, during training or just in regular day-to-day operations, it is critical for an employer to regularly convey what the assignment means, why it matters, what goals and values are being pursued and what the markers are for success and achievement. Companies with broad lines of communications report greater workforce satisfaction and stability.


The delivery of a paycheck is always a good way of recognizing a worker’s efforts, but that is not compelling on its own. Bonuses are better, but not always practical. You’d be surprised though how words of praise and small tokens of appreciation – such as a small dollar gift card or box of pastry – can foster a greater sense of value among the workforce. Giving people their proper due for good work is a best practice.


Providing a pathway to greater earnings, or improved position within the organization is very enticing and gives a worker a reason to want to stay and excel in their role. Whether this is via a temp-to-hire program or some other mechanism, it is worth providing some aspirational goals for the contingent workforce if your operation supports it.


Treating contract labor with the same levels of professional regard as you would the full time equivalent also promotes high on-the-job productivity and a sense of purpose in the role. Tying the work being done to the positive benefits your product or service delivers to the public gives workers a feeling of empowerment and promotes better engagement in the work.


Team building, access to management, participation in broader company activities are all ways to help produce stronger bonds between co-workers and management. Even among temp/contract labor which is not expected to be on the job beyond the end of the project or busy season. Plus, this helps improve the employment brand and burnishes your reputation as a good place to work.

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