Tips for attracting and retaining talent as a middle market firm

In the extremely competitive Bay Area market, attracting and retaining top professional talent is always challenging. With four generations of employees in today’s workforce, it is critical to consider how as a middle market firm your corporate culture practices can help attract and retain the very best from a diverse employee population.

John Sensiba, managing partner at Sensiba San Filippo LLP (SSF), an accountancy and business advisory firm headquartered in Pleasanton, identifies eight best practices for hiring and retaining top talent that he puts into practice.

Understand your business goals. It is critical to understand where you are and where you are going. Sensiba recommends having a vision and a plan for your firm’s market growth. Anticipating areas of growth, such as industries and services, will help you prepare to grow your team along with your revenue.

Have a plan. Once you have an understanding of where you are currently and where you want to go (your ideal “future state”), develop a market strategy plan that will support this growth. This plan needs to incorporate your growth and hiring goals, with actionable items outlined. Having a strategy plan in place that clearly aligns your firm’s growth goals with your hiring goals, is a critical best practice.

Anticipate growth requirements. “With a market growth plan in place and an understanding of where your business is heading, you’ll be able to anticipate future staff needs and develop a hiring plan,” says Sensiba. Depending on your growth goals, will you need more of the skills you have now? Are there specific skills missing in your organization that you’ll need to grow your business? Assessing what you have and what you’ll need will allow you to hire the right people at the right time.

“Out of the box” compensation philosophy. “Many organizations make the mistake of believing that paying people well is the only key to retaining employees,” says Sensiba. “While pay is important, it is often not the most important motivator.” Today’s employees want it all – good pay, benefits, career advancement, and the opportunity to do new and exciting work.

Sensiba recommends developing a compensation strategy that makes you competitive and unique within your market. If your overall compensation plan lags behind your competitors, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle.

Find the right fit. The cost of hiring the wrong people is far more than the cost of ensuring you hire the “right fit”. Before you can find the right fit, you’ll need to define the right fit in terms of both culture and ability. What kind of company do you want to build and what are the characteristics of the type of employee that will be successful in this culture?

Successful corporate cultures don’t happen by chance. They happen as a result of a vision and by leadership setting a “tone from the top”.

Develop good job descriptions. “Really understand the core competencies of all positions, and measure against these as you evaluate candidates and current employees,” says Sensiba. If you don’t know exactly what you want, you are unlikely to find the best fit for your needs. SSF has used core competencies to measure and set expectations for all levels of staff to improve and advance their careers within the firm.

Create a strong interview and evaluation process. Remember that the interview process is not just a time for the candidate to impress you. It’s also the first impression you’ll make on a potential employee. SSF has created a process for evaluating candidates that is timely and consistent.

Keep them motivated! The process doesn’t stop once you get talented employees in the door. Now you have to keep them.

Develop a rewards strategy to attract, motivate and retain your employees. “You need to include compensation, benefits, work-life balance, performance recognition, and professional development opportunities,” says Sensiba.

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