By Steffen Maier

In today’s increasingly transparent job market, smart companies are turning the tables on their talent acquisition strategy. Rather than focusing their efforts outwards they’re focusing inward. Websites like Glassdoor and Indeed give job seekers a window into what it’s actually like to work in a company. Top talent are no longer solely basing their decisions on salaries and company revenue/financials. This means that employers need to make their company attractive inside and out.

Employer branding

Branding is not only used to attract clients, but also as a strategic method to attract the right employees. Top companies have realized that creating a strong company culture based on specific values that are unique to your company’s purpose and vision will help attract the best candidates. Think about the messages companies put forth in their mission, purpose and marketing strategies. These messages tell potential hires what to expect from a company’s work environment and priorities. This allows them to “job shop” for careers that fit their personality and ideals, along with their professional skills.

To millennials, a job is not just a source of income, but a part of their social and active lives. Accenture’s 2015 College Graduate Employment Study found that 59% of recent graduates would prefer to work in a company with a positive social atmosphere over a place with a higher salary. Another 52% would forgo some compensation to work at a company with an impressive commitment to the environment or the social impact of its products and services. For example, think about some of the employer branding messages these top companies transmit:

Zappos: “Keep things weird” – No straight-laced hierarchies and a collegial environment

Google: “Do cool things that matter” – Use your creativity to work on groundbreaking products

Patagonia: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” – Social and environmental sustainability are a key concern in our actions and business decisions

How can your company develop a strong employer brand that delivers top talent?

Reinforcing Values

In order to create a strong brand it’s essential to reinforce company values on a daily basis. These companies are known for having a workforce that lives and breaths their values. This can only be achieved if they are reinforced through the feedback employees receive.

Zappos follows an organizational structure that emphasizes autonomy over direct management. Collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst peers is a key component to Google’s success. Patagonia allows its employees to take up to two months time off to work with environmental non-profits. Feedback is essential to maintaining these unique working environments by encouraging peer collaboration and helping to quickly onboard new and returning employees.

The great thing about employer branding is that it doesn’t just attract top talent, but also the right talent. Hiring for company culture fit was identified as a top priority for 80% of hiring managers in a recent survey. Given the importance that recent graduates place on work environment and culture, hiring talented employees that fit will help safeguard your company against turnover.

Development opportunities

Helping your people learn and develop continuously is the number one thing a company needs to offer to attract new talent. More responsibilities, stretch assignments and a chance to test out new ideas are a few ways to attract ambitious and motivated new recruits. Accenture’s 2015 College Graduate Employment Study cited 77% of respondents expect their first employer to provide formal training, but only 53% received any. At the same time, millennials more so than any other generation, have a strong aversion to steep hierarchies and micromanagement. Giving more continuous feedback will allow you to give your employees more autonomy and room to grow without being too hands on.

More and more companies are also realizing that, while hiring for culture fit may leave you with a more limited talent pool in terms of technical skill, coaching can help turn new hires with potential into top talent. According to CareerBuilder, 35% of employers trained low-skill workers and hired them for high-skill jobs in 2015, 33% plan to do the same this year.

Employee well-being

Caring about the well-being of your employees is one of the most important ways to make your company attractive to new talent. Fair wages and health benefits are a given, but companies are looking to expand these benefits by giving employees more freedom to choose when and how they get their work done.

Today companies like Netflix have become famous for giving their employees the freedom to take unlimited vacation. Their philosophy is that it’s the results that count and creating a more responsible culture allows them to give this autonomy to their employees. Others offer flexible and remote working options. According to a survey by Deloitte 75% of Millennials feel more productive when working from home or other locations but only 43% are given this option. In the AfterCollege 2015 Career Insight survey 68% of recent graduates agreed that the ability to work remotely part of the time had an impact on their decision to accept a new position. Out of The Center for Generational Kinetics’ ‘Best Places to Work for Millennials’ list, 73% offer flextime or compressed work weeks.

However, these work arrangements require giving more responsibility to employees over their own agenda. The most critical challenge facing managers working with remote teams is communication. Even more than in office based work environments, managers need to ensure that remote teams align with company goals and strategies and continue to feel connected while working. This is best provided through frequent conversations between employees and managers and a reinforcement of company objectives with each project.

Whether you’re an innovation focused tech company or a service oriented startup, a strong company brand, development opportunities and flexible work options are what young talented employees are searching for today. Reinforcing your company’s culture, providing regular coaching, while at the same time giving more autonomy, can only be achieved with consistent feedback.

Steffen Maier is co-founder of Impraise a web-based and mobile solution for actionable, timely feedback at work. Based in New York and Amsterdam, Impraise turns tedious annual performance reviews into an easy process by enabling users to give and receive valuable feedback in real-time and when it’s most helpful. The tool includes an extensive analytics platform to analyze key strengths and predict talent gaps and coaching needs. @stgmaier