7 Ways to Compete on Employee Talent and Grow Your Workforce

The prevailing thought that business competes on price and products is outdated. The paradigm from previous centuries in business was to outmaneuver the competition by competing on lowest price or best price or not price at all, but on product. Both of which is a race to the bottom.

Competing on price and product is finite. At some point either or both will stop yielding the desired business results. And what does an organization do in this case? They retire the product, and replace it with a new one. Certainly a new pricing strategy can breathe life into a product, right? Sure, for a limited time.

Price and product can be replicated or duplicated. The one competitive advantage not finite, and can’t be replicated and nearly impossible to duplicate is people.

Does your organization compete by tapping into your people’s access to infinite possibilities through their talents, skills, knowledge, experiences, or creativity?

Access to any of the above is boundless and can be directed to develop the next great product your customers need, or that pricing strategy that paves the way for capturing increased market share. Think Southwest and their refusal to charge customers for flying with bags. They earned over a billion dollars by not charging for bags. It was projected they’d earn over $200 million if they started collecting the fee.

In the 21st century, when people are celebrated as the cause for success that catapults organizations to the top.

So, what does an organization do to shift its focus to compete on employee talent? Here are seven people-centric ways that signal organizational commitment to putting people first.

Identify how your employees differentiate you from your competitors

Spend time understanding how your employees’ skills, experiences, strengths can help advance your strategy. You want to answer the question, “How can we create a workplace environment that lets our employees’ talents thrive and grow?”

Invest dollars in workforce development

Don’t just send employees to any training. Sent employees to training that helps advance your strategy. Workforce development isn’t just about training. It’s also positioning employees to learn on the job crucial skills to help them grow.

Adopt a customer-centric strategy

Customer-centric strategies look to deepen and build relationship with customers through transforming products, services and the customer experience. Align your employees to create solutions in the three areas. This work is meaningful: it helps employees see how their work ties to the bigger picture. Plus employees want to “be in” on important work.

Align your reward mechanisms

Your reward programs need to promote meaningful recognition that matters to employees. It needs to be timely. A mix of quick-wins and long-term rewards need to be given regularly. Your rewards programs have likely become irrelevant and don’t reward people for how they want to be recognized.

Modernize how and where work gets done

Mobile technology can transform how and where your employees get work done. They want the flexibility to choose. Time to begin trusting your employees in this space. Mobile is not going away.

Reevaluate workload

Is there a healthy stress level in the tension between workload and time to get it done? If the workload doesn’t promote optimal, or flow, peak performance, then you are likely driving employees into distress. This leads to anxiety. People will begin to feel undervalued, and that’s just the start of a long slide down to disengagement and poor employee wellbeing.

Invest in learning employees’ strengths

Strengths-based leadership promotes understand of what work energizes employees leading to peak performance. Work with employees to reshuffle work to align with their strengths. The more time employees spend in the zone of peak performance, the more they derive the greatest value from work. Meaningful work is often attributed to peak performance.

In this topsy-turvy market place that scares executives into being cash-hoarders, organizations that compete on employee talent position themselves to outwit, outplay, and outlast their competition.

What would you add to the list?

Graphic by  Rocky Springs

Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of ExchangeGain. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

  • Jon M

    Being open to innovation would be one to add. Innovation can come in different ways — processes, products, services, etc. Encouraging and enabling people to innovate is essential. Great list, Shawn. Thanks!

  • Lisa Shelley

    Great list Shawn!  I would add one thing that would facilitate and enhance the impact of everything else on the list.  Invest in a robust internal communication process and use it to inform, inform, inform, celebrate and inspire.

  • There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

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