Home » Employee Wellbeing » The Ultimate Competitive Advantage: Investing in Your Employees

As work evolves into hybrid and remote models, companies must also evolve their thinking on recruitment, retention, and growth.

The way we work is changing. Employees overwhelmingly prefer hybrid models of work and enjoy more power in the job market than ever before. The companies that adapt to this new reality successfully will be the ones that take investing in their employees seriously. Eric Koslow, CTO and co-founder of Lattice, a workforce management company, has seen that dynamic firsthand. After years of flexible working, employees aren’t just reevaluating how they like to work, but where.

“Employees are asking questions like, ‘Is this organization really putting as much work into me as I’m putting into it?” Koslow says. He believes it’s characteristic of a switch in the balance of power between employers and employees, with the latter clearly gaining the upper hand.

That’s more than a hunch on his part — a record number of employees voluntarily left their jobs within the last twelve months, pursuing new opportunities, higher wages, or changing careers entirely. Faced with turnover risks and labor shortages, companies are looking for ways to stand out from the crowd.

A competitive advantage

Company culture is also changing with the times, and has become the most effective way companies can attract—and retain—top talent. Gaining that competitive advantage involves addressing what Koslow calls the three “pillars” of a healthy company culture: community, purpose, and growth. “People have missed seeing one another and crave opportunities to have more meaningful conversations beyond the day-to-day tasks,” notes Katelin Holloway, founding partner at venture capital firm Seven Seven Six. “There are so many unique and wonderful ways for employers to embrace their new cultures—they can lean on software to enable and foster connection online. For example, Lattice is a great place to build in conversation starters between manager and employees in the weekly check-in report.”

Koslow notes that companies need to build trust in order to foster employee engagement. “You need the baseline: psychological safety,” he notes. “People need to feel secure. If you don’t have that, you really can’t work on any other part.” He also warns against what Harvard Business Review calls an “adrenaline shot” approach to change. “The worst thing you can do is over-commit to change and not follow through with it,” he says. “Make sure you set actionable and achievable goals, and then follow up with how you’re doing on them.”

Employees increasingly want employers who help them grow both professionally and personally. “This goes far beyond compensation packages and perks,” says Holloway, and Koslow agrees. “Employees are seeking a lot more transparency when it comes to career development,” he says, noting that at Lattice employees are offered a “gap analysis” from their managers during performance reviews that identifies missing skills. An action plan is then created to develop or gain experience as needed. “That’s a real reward,” Koslow says. “Because I feel like I’m truly being rewarded for the work I’m doing. I see this trajectory, I feel like this is achievable.”

Beyond work

Holloway notes that these investments in your employees pay off—big time. “The thing about creating learning opportunities for employees is that everybody wins,” she notes. “This is an investment into the education and training of your own employees. When your staff is equipped with tools that help them to work more efficiently, effectively, and autonomously, productivity and innovation soar.”

Not only do these investments help a company’s existing employees, Koslow argues that supporting employees more holistically gives companies an advantage because it “cuts through the crowd” and attracts the best talent.

“Here at Lattice, we offer the ‘Invest In Your People Fund,’” he notes. “If you work at Lattice for over three years and then start a business yourself, we will invest $100,000 into your business, no strings attached and no questions asked. It is truly investing in those folks, and it signals that this is a place that puts their money where their mouth is when they talk about investing in employees. It’s really attracted the type of talent that I don’t think we would have been able to get otherwise.”

Holloway warns that companies must start adapting to the new reality. “This is about holistic culture management: How and when you work together, listening and responding to your employee’s needs, and creating supportive environments that enable a deep sense of community,” she says. “This trend is not going away any time soon.”

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