The laws of economic rationality would tell us that in an environment like this hiring managers, recruiters, and HR professionals can afford to be choosey.
It’s a buyers market after all, but so much of what’s for sale doesn’t seem to fit our needs—or is it more like the dating pool where “all the good ones are taken.”
An Abundance of Scarcity
Every company I talk to in the high-tech space is looking to hire top talent, and all the top talent I talk to is looking for good work. It’s a paradox, but not surprising given that our focus as business leaders is almost always on the wrong thing.
Forbes.com recently told us that Facebook is the top company to work for. Their popularity among their employees was mostly attributed to a flexible work environment, and perks like dry cleaning on premises, free food, and more. But that’s not really it.
I don’t deny perks help people feel satisfied at work, but creating workplaces that work is much more alchemy and wizardry than it is science. You can’t simply follow a formula.
You Can Get There From Here
The truth is a whole host of things matter: leadership, cool-quotient, the ability to make visible progress on something meaningful, length of commute, vision of the company, whether you can bring a dog or a baby to the office—and many, many other factors.
If it was easy there would be a playbook on how to do it and we’d all just work in great work environments. But the truth is it’s not easy, nor is it straightforward.
It’s circuitous, challenging and frustrating to create a workplace that works—and it’s incredibly valuable if you can.
If your business is like most, your people are your biggest cost and—as the motivational posters tell us—they are also your greatest resource. OK I hate that last phrase because it’s so true, so obvious, and so hard to make real in a company’s culture. Everyone is talking about it but hardly anyone is doing it effectively or consistently.
And it’s just plain wrong.
People Are Not Your Greatest Resource, People Are Your Business
Without people you have nothing.
And people are people—meaning they are confusing, irrational, interesting, quirky and so much more.
But all that doesn’t change the fact that perhaps the most bottom-line-valuable thing any business can do is to lower the cost of hiring, retain people longer, and enable them to be more productive while they are there.
This is what you need and if you’re like most business it is not what you have.
But some companies are getting it right—the Forbes list tells us that as does the occasional person we meet at a cocktail party that loves their job.
There are businesses out there that have people clamoring to work for them and not just anyone—really good motivated people. And there are companies that keep these people engaged and motivated while they are on the job.
These two kinds of companies are the same companies!
Jobs That Work
If we are to create a functional economy and a sustainable future we desperately need are workplaces that work.
This means that people are in jobs they love—not because they are easy or coddle them mind you, something doesn’t have to be universally pleasant to be lovable. But we do need jobs that allow people to do something meaningful, valuable, and—at least for most people—to go home to family and community and take care of that too.
In order to build this kind of workplace we need to learn from each other. If you don’t have the culture or company you want it’s not because a certain key perk is missing, it’s because your context is off and context is complex. In order to shift context (e.g. culture) we need to talk to each other, engage, challenge, and learn.
Join the Conversation
If you are a hiring manager, worker with a great job, HR professional or recruiter, I want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments section below or heck, just send me a note.
And if you want to hear what others have to say on the topic join my email list below and I’ll be sure to update you on what I hear.
This is one of the most valuable conversations I know for creating the life, the businesses and the world we want. I hope you’ll join us.