(Photo by Flickr user jeffreyw, used under a Creative Commons license)
Being a little off the beaten path, people often ask, “How do you retain talent in Wilmington, Delaware?” And though we hate to give away trade secrets, it’s time we answered the question. Omelettes.
At least once a year, we at digital agency Archer Group invite a local chef, The Omelette King, to our Wilmington offices. He sets up a station, with a huge selection of fresh ingredients, and makes custom omelettes for everyone at Archer. It’s a great time, with everyone enjoying some company-sanctioned quality time together, outside of the pressures of deadlines and deliverables.
It’s one of many events our company hosts throughout the year to show that it values employees as people, not just billable bodies.
It’s fun watching everyone at the omelette station. The orders are as diverse as the orderers. Some prefer simple, classic constructs. Others get a little more creative with it.
In the omelette bar, we find a lesson about retention. There is no single formula for making all of our employees happy. What they’re each looking for is unique, and personal, to them. What unites them is the fact that they’re just hungry for a great experience.
As employers, what we can do with this insight, as we think about how to best serve our people, is to consider all the ingredients we have at our disposal and recognize we are only going to be as good as the selection and quality of these ingredients.
Compensation is a big one. Great employees, especially those with the technical skills our business requires, know their value. If your organization is not offering competitive compensation and benefits packages, you will be fighting an uphill battle for retention.
Work that is challenging and meaningful is another key ingredient to our success. For many technical professionals, especially, the opportunity to solve complex problems is critical to satisfaction. As leaders, we need to find ways to keep our best employees engaged. At Archer we have a program called “Labs” where employees are regularly given time to experiment and play with emerging technologies.
Professional growth is an area we have found to be consistently cited as important to younger talent, in particular. As you’re creating budgets, set aside time and resources for software, conferences and training. It’s a little thing that can mean quite a lot.
There are, of course, many more things to factor when putting together the perfect, individualized employment experiences in your own company and industry. Work to identify them. If you need help, ask your people on occasion what they wish they had more of and what choices they simply don’t value. You may be surprised.
There is no single formula for making all of our employees happy.
Finally, when you’ve considered all the ingredients you’ll need, you may still be left thinking: what’s the egg in this omelette? What’s this thing that brings it all together cohesively?
For us, that has to be culture. Without culture we would just be a plate full of disjointed ideals and unrealized potential. Culture is what binds us. It’s what our people like most about Archer. It’s our egg.
Which brings us to another question we get all the time. How do you create culture? Well, showing people consistently that you care about their well-being and routinely finding excuses to bring everyone together is a good start. Try an omelette breakfast.