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Top 3 Ways To Attract And Retain Talent with Rebecca Martin & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

Rebecca Martin Human Resources Hiring Strategies

The connections you make will deepen and strengthen the quality of your network and company brand — both critical elements in effective recruiting.

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Rebecca Martin.

Rebecca Martin, VP, Culture & Talent, Beehive Strategic Communication. Rebecca is an HR and talent development leader with 20 years of experience in the PR/communications industry. She leads talent recruitment, employee engagement, professional development and wellness initiatives for the St. Paul, Minn.-based strategic communication agency. Rebecca frequently blogs and speaks about workplace culture topics.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I spent the first half of my 20-year career in public relations/strategic communication account management. My shift to human resources, recruiting and talent development happened at the intersection of the agency’s business needs and my emerging skills and interest in people management and development.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career?

The candidates I meet are so talented, interesting and inspiring that I always leave those first meetings with a boost of energy. Every so often, though, I’ll meet someone who’s going through a tough career transition or exiting a bad work situation. This can result in venting frustrations in overly personal and inappropriate ways (please don’t call your former boss expletives). In those odd cases, I have learned to just listen to people and what’s really behind their stories. I shift from recruiting at that point to simply connecting with them as humans and helping them process their situations and chart a more positive path forward.

Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company? How is this helping people?

I’m working to introduce practices to our team that deepen our empathy and curiosity. Empathy and curiosity help expand EQ skills and our ability to make strong connections, discover creative insights, and remain open to new possibilities and ideas.

With so much noise and competition out there, what are the top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

1. Invest in a great workplace culture. You can’t hire and keep great people if you don’t have a great culture. Invest in a workplace culture that addresses employees’ most important needs: flexibility, work-life balance and well-being; professional development/advancement opportunities, competitive salary/benefits; trust and appreciation, and a connection to purpose.

2. Tell your story. When you have an authentic, compelling culture story to tell, proactively bring it to the marketplace through workplace awards, blog posts, speaking engagements, on your website and especially in social media. Great workplace cultures are magnets for great talent. But people can’t join an organization they don’t know about.

3. Look up and get out. To meet prospective employees, HR managers need to be active members of their communities and industries. Join boards, speak on panels, visit college classrooms, participate in online and real-life conversations, attend industry events. The connections you make will deepen and strengthen the quality of your network and company brand — both critical elements in effective recruiting.

What are the 3 most effective strategies used to retain employees?

1. Empower growth. Providing people with frequent growth and development opportunities is critical to engagement, satisfaction and retention. Employees want to work in roles where their strengths are valued, and where they receive substantive development and growth opportunities. Managers should make job expectations clear, deliver regular, honest feedback, and provide clear development and advancement paths for every employee. One of the key reasons candidates tell me they’re looking for a new job? They’re bored, siloed or stuck in a role/department with no clear growth opportunities.

2. Prioritize work-life balance. Gallup’s 2018 State of the American Workplace tells us 53% of employees want roles that allow them to have greater work-life balance and better personal well-being is “very important” to them. And we know flexible scheduling and work-from-home options are important factors when employees are job-searching. Our employees have the flexibility to work where and when it makes sense for their clients, their teams and their lives, allowing them to balance life and work as it ever-changes. To support this flexibility and keep everyone connected, we provide employees with laptops, tablets and Wi-Fi mobile hotspots. We’re also open to varied start-stop times, reduced schedules and work-from-home schedules to accommodate personal needs like long commutes, inclement weather, childcare coverage and more.

3. Give them a reason to care. The connection employees feel to their organization’s purpose and values and their connections to peers and managers are more important than ever in the workplace. Millennial employees especially want their work to have purpose and meaning, and they seek out employers that are aligned with their own values and beliefs. Strong connections to purpose, communities and friendships at work boost productivity, inspire passion and make employees more likely to stay.

In your experience, is it important for HR to keep up with the latest trends? Can you give some examples of what this looks like?

It’s important for HR to stay informed about macro trends like employment and the economy, the impact of technology and millennials on the workplace and employee engagement scores. HR can use this information to develop modern, effective talent recruitment and retention strategies. I would avoid implementing flashy, trendy tactics that can feel disjointed and inauthentic to the company culture.

Can you give an example of a creative way to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?

Companies can often provide a great deal of value to employees at no to little expense by simply looking at what they are offering in a new way. For example, Beehive allows employees to take PTO in one-hour increments vs. half-day or full-day increments. This provides greater flexibility for people when managing their schedules and personal lives. It’s a highly valued benefit, and it costs the company nothing. We also transitioned our wellness spend this year into an annual wellness allowance for each employee to use however they choose on services or products that support their physical, emotional and mental well-being. Our annual investment is about the same, but the appreciation our people have for it and the and impact it’s had on their personal wellness has been tremendous.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would start a listening movement. People today are frequently distracted by electronic devices, hectic schedules, and daily stress. We may be showing up, but we aren’t truly present. The best gift we can give each other is the simple gift of active, present, undistracted listening. This level of conscious listening helps us communicate more effectively, build relationships and deepen trust.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I’ve learned that if I’m experiencing a personal or professional challenge, it’s often because I’m focusing my energy and attention externally — comparing my situation or self to others or ruminating on what I lack. I am the most joyful and experience the most success when I focus on living with gratitude, practicing self-acceptance, and continually learning and growing from my experiences.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

If I could have lunch with anyone it would be the queen herself, Ms. Oprah Winfrey. Oprah has used her power to help educate, inspire and elevate consciousness. She is the definition of someone who leads with the head and the heart. I’m in awe of everything she does.

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

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