At LinkedIn, staff are told on their first day that they will leave the company. Wendy Murphy, EMEA HR director, explains why the company tells staff this and how it creates a purpose-led culture that improves retention and attracts talent.
One of the core elements of our culture at LinkedIn is to focus on transformation. We make a commitment to every employee when they start that they will transform themselves, the company and the world.
The job of a lifetime is gone; we want to be really pragmatic about that so we also say to staff that we know they will leave at some point in the future.
We hope it’s not for many years and while they are here we want our employees to use every opportunity to develop themselves and become the best professional they can be. When they do leave, we want them to do so for the right reasons. As a talent professional, it hurts me to think of people leaving for the wrong reasons and ending up in the wrong job or one that they are not passionate about. They change the company through their brainpower and experience.
We’re quite unusual at LinkedIn in that we have a very strong mission in terms of creating equal opportunity in the global workforce. We connect job seekers with jobs and that changes lives. We can also help governments build their employment strategy by connecting talent with opportunity. When you combine all of that, it creates a purpose.
It’s critical for all companies to be an employer of choice, particularly those that are trying to attract Millennials, who now make up 69 per cent of our workforce. This generation of workers is not coming in just to get a paycheck. They want to work for a company that has purpose; a company that allows them to contribute meaningfully to the business. They want to feel valued and that their input is being taken on board. There’s no denying that the competition for talent has increased. Having a great value proposition will allow companies to secure and retain the best talent.
There are many things businesses can do to set themselves apart. Too many companies focus too narrowly. Effectively attracting and engaging talent requires a comprehensive strategy. First and foremost, they must have a strong understanding of their employees. They know what they want, so listen to them. Provide clarity on collective purpose, strategy as an organisation and your employee value proposition. Those things combine to become the employer brand. That has to be authentic.
Ask yourself what your company values are, and how they differentiate you from others in your industry. Create an environment of inclusion and diversity in all its forms; not just because you want to be seen to do it, but because diversity of thought is critical to the success of businesses in the future.
Provide staff with choice and flexibility. It’s particularly important for the Millennial workforce. It should cover everything from facilities and benefits to wellness and professional development. You can provide the coolest facilities, the free food, all the extras; however, if you don’t have strong, inspiring, authentic leadership, the long-term retention of your talent will become a challenge.
At LinkedIn, we’re very clear on our expectations of staff from the start. From the hiring process to onboarding, right through their lifecycle as an employee we weave our expectations into that narrative. While we have these amazing benefits and a fantastic culture, we also expect our staff to focus on results. Ultimately, it comes down to trust. Trust your employees and encourage them to demand excellence from you as an employer. As a leader, you’ll find those behaviours naturally come to the surface.
It is inevitable staff will leave. Millennials will probably have ten different jobs in their career. Fundamentally, we believe that the job for life no longer exists. Rather than fear that at LinkedIn, we embrace it. In HR we spend a lot of time talking about retention strategies but ultimately, if someone wants to leave, they will. We make sure that we have a really strong connection with employees so that when they go, they continue to be an ambassador for our brand.