Secrets to Attracting and Retaining Great Talent

Over the years, VidMob has won multiple awards for being a great place to work from Inc Magazine to Forbes and AdAge. Behind the scenes, we’ve grown from a little over 100 employees to now nearly 400, experienced negligible voluntary churn and have substantially up-leveled the talent in our company – attracting a steady stream of leading executives from places like Facebook, Google, Adobe, Amazon, Spotify and more.

When considered in context with The Great Resignation looming in the background, one of the most competitive hiring environments of all-time, and the new reality that all companies compete for all employees, regardless of geography, the question we’re often asked is, “What’s your secret?”

I wrote recently about how one of our secrets was having an unusually high percentage of female leadership.   And while this is a great place for any company to start,  here are some of the things that we believe are important to employee happiness, and how we crafted our promise in each area to uniquely fit our business.

1. Stand for Something

I do not think a company can compete for talent today unless it stands for something, and that fundamental purpose is logically ingrained into everything the business does.  This is not doing an unrelated community service project once a quarter.  Nor is it donating X dollars to charity.  It’s about believing that business can and must be used as a force for good, and then making that part of why the business exists.  At VidMob, we believe in the essential nature of human creativity when it comes to communication, and everything we do and build is aimed at supporting that activity.  We then apply everything we do and build for our for-profit clients, to help hundreds of charitable organizations around the world improve and scale the effectiveness of their communications.  More than 80% of our staff engaged directly with the work of VidMob Gives last year, and the work of our foundation has truly become the heartbeat of our company.

2. Care

First, the leadership has to truly care about the well-being of their employees.  And it can’t be, “I care about their productivity, so there are things that I need to begrudgingly do in order to support that.”  But if your priorities are right on this, then you can start a cascade of caring that has a logical goal of getting every employee to care about the growth and wellbeing of each other.   And when every employee is simultaneously growing, that pushes out the external bounds of the company exponentially.

3. Foster Creativity

We are all different.  We think and process things differently.  We come at problems from different places.  And we work differently.   This is a good thing!  The more you can create space for individual autonomy, the more likely it will be that people are proud of the work that they produce, and this is one of the fastest paths to fulfillment.

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4. Empower Excellence

As McKinsey notes, the connection between A-level talent and productivity is dramatic. If you give very talented people the time and resources necessary to do great work, that will create a culture of excellence that sets the bar for everything else.  And as with the point above, doing great work is rewarding.

5. Make Growth Everyone’s Responsibility

If everyone knows (a) where the business is trying to go over the long-haul, (b) why that’s the right vision strategically, (c) what their department or team needs to accomplish in the shorter term (likely 6 months), (d) how that fits into the long-term vision, and (e) what their immediate role is as part of that team, then amazing things can be built. I believe this is true, but only if you have a framework similar to the one above that sets the team up for sustained progress against a steady goal. This point has a major impact on the ability to attract and retain top talent because great people want to do great things.  They are smart enough to know that it cannot be done overnight.  But they will not stick around if the vision is uncertain, if management holds the strategy too close to the vest, if progress is sugar coated and dishonest, or if they feel like they are carrying too much of the load.  Make growth everyone’s responsibility, as this is definitely a case where teamwork makes the dream work.

There are many other things that we care about at Vidmob, but these 5 areas of focus apply equally well to any company when customized for their own culture.   My final thought is this, you simply cannot invest enough in, or care too deeply about your employees.  In today’s world of infinite engineering capacity and global hive brain, I always assume that any idea I have is being simultaneously had by 1,000 other people.  All of those thousand other people will have access to capital and the ability to find people who can build it.  So the only possible way to differentiate is through the people you attract to join you in your crazy mission.   Your people are your whole advantage.  Invest your time and attention accordingly.

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