The Missing Link: How Purpose Can Find You the Right People.

Published on: 08/4/22 3:20 PM


If we had a £1 for every time we hear how hard it is to attract and retain talent in the current market, Left Boot would have her chalet in Morzine and Right Boot would be chilling in Ibiza (…there’s a bit of an insight into our founders for you). However, if we had £1 for each of the businesses that are nailing their storytelling to lure in the talent… Well, that’s another story. But it would probably only get as far as sharing a tent for a night in the Lake District.

The simple fact is that so many fast-growing, investment-focused, transformational businesses concentrate on the external-facing commercial aspect of the business – and totally forget to sell the story behind it all.

Too right. At the end of the day, your customer-facing brand is priority, right? Well, yes, but that’s only until you grow again. It’s when you’re faced with attracting the right talent to help you ride the next wave of your fast-paced, demanding journey – that’s when businesses often hit the rocks.

As it stands, it’s estimated that if you’re in the market for a job change you are pretty likely to be up for 3-4 roles at a time – lucky candidates. So, how do you stand out to make sure that they choose your business?

You no longer need to shout about great offices, Friday socials, a day off for your birthday, flexible working, hybrid, or remote solutions anymore – these are not perks, they are a standard of today’s market. It’s not even about a shiny salary package. Candidates are looking for a healthy work environment with the opportunity for progression. They want praise, recognition, and rewards for higher performance – feeling valued and appreciated by your employer is what really matters.

So, a job ad should give candidates a good feel for a business, so they can relate to what they stand for, want to be a part of the journey, and feel that it’s the right fit for them and their personal development.

How many businesses demonstrate that working environment on their websites, social, job specs, candidate packs, or in their interviews? Nowhere near enough.

But luckily for you, that’s the job of this article, written to inspire those businesses who have a challenge to take action – here are 5 simple ways to build up a stand-out brand, in a busy, ‘look at us’ marketplace.

The answers, and indeed solutions, will all be there – they just need to be identified and given priority. As a recent client told us, “You have taken the brand, given it CPR, and brought it to life”. So, you could say that we’re quite well-versed when it comes to business resuscitation.

1. The Power of Purpose

Mission and Vision statements are redundant if you don’t have a purpose.

There, we said it.

Of course, mission and vision statements are essential for many businesses. They set out what success looks like, where you’re going, the strategy that is going to get the business there – and it keeps everyone focused. However, if these statements aren’t supported by a purpose, they just become words on a website, in a company report, or, dare I say it, on a wall…

Purpose is the power for your people. It ties everything together, it provides that resolve, determination, and energy in everyone. It reminds us why we come to work every day, what part we play, and why we exist as a business. It’s a feeling; an emotion.

But as soon as we say that, people will instantly think we’ve gone all fluffy, that it’s not commercially measurable they lose interest. Well, more fool you.

This storytelling, this description of your purpose and how it comes to life in everyone in your business is pure gold. It’s the piece of the puzzle that will help you stand out and attract like-minded people. It’s how you attract candidates who are going to help you reach your next goal, to get closer to your vision, because they are instantly bought into that story. You’re not only recruiting on skills, but the values of your people – and your business. A clear purpose makes people want to be part of your vision; they want to drive your strategy. So, that’s how your purpose has commercial value – that’s where the power is.

So, ask yourself – where does storytelling fit into any business? How do you bring your purpose to life and demonstrate it as part of your brand? How do you shout about the teams that have taken you to a point of growth and recruitment? Does your career site and social reflect this?

The answers will be there. The number of times we go to see potential clients and find an absolute mismatch between what we can see externally, and what we can feel internally is phenomenal. Change now to make your brand engaging and captivating.

2. Lead by Example

People don’t leave jobs; they leave a business. Most people who are looking to move are often simply frustrated. It might be that their career path is unclear or non-existent, that they’re looking for new challenges that are not available, they are frustrated by the management team, or unclear about the direction – feeling undervalued and disengaged. It’s rarely just a question of salary.

And it’s time to stop making excuses for leadership or management who are good at their job but don’t respect the company values, brand, or purpose. Weakening what your business stands for, especially when you start from the top like this, is going to have a detrimental effect on not only attracting the right talent but retaining them.

If we’re going to start shouting about our purpose and values, we must practice what we preach. This means making sure that every team lead, manager, or leader understands and sees the value in the importance of purpose on an everyday basis. It’s not something to be pushed by marketing or HR, it’s a team role it has to be owned by every last person in the business.

So, what are your company’s values? Do they reflect your team as people? Do we need to update them? Do we live and breathe them every day until they’ve become part of our DNA, culture, and way of working? Do your team leaders, managers, and exec articulate and demonstrate the values every day? If not, why not… and are they right for your business?

The way we see it, values drive behaviour, behaviour drives a business, impacting productivity, effectiveness, and engagement. The last thing you want to do is to sell the dream to a candidate, only for them to come into the business and experience a completely different environment. Those candidates won’t stick around for long.

But, fortunately, it’s so easy to solve. With an assessment of your current values and how they reflect the business, the people, and the purpose, that’s when you can start to support each department and member of management, to help them bring it all to life in their everyday.

3. Stop Guessing and Start Listening.

Have you ever asked people why they work for you, why they joined and why they stay?

Those answers are the key to your recruitment approach – powerful and genuine.

Have you ever asked them what bugs them and what they want out of their role?

Those answers will surprise you. In most cases, quick fixes can be made that we might not see as not important but have the potential to change the game for your teams.

The whole employee benefits package has shifted massively in recent times. Gone are the days when you could buy an off-the-shelf benefits package and people would be happy. We now understand that because every business is different and dependent on its stage of growth and demographics, they must evolve with the employee stages of growth too.

On top of that, every business has been pushed to change over the last 2 years. As much as we think we have nailed the new way of working, or we’re starting to get into the groove of the way everyone works, we have to keep in mind that it will 100% keep changing. We can guarantee what you think good looks like today will be different again in 6 months.

So, benchmark what people want. We can’t assume that people won’t want to come back into the office, and we can’t assume that they will. We can’t second guess what benefits people see as important, but we can ask and define our benefits package by remaining engaged and transparent with our teams.

How do we reward and recognise people so that they feel valued and motivated to work for us? How do we ensure that their personal development is right for us as a business, as well as them as an individual? Do your benefits reflect the businesses’ purpose and values? How do you ensure that you are all celebrating one shared purpose and the hard work everyone is putting in?

Sometimes even the smallest acknowledgment has the biggest impact. So, if you can pepper the everyday with moments of gratitude, appreciation, and opportunity, as well as the more ‘standard’ benefits of holiday, pension, and healthcare then together, they will help to build resilience, engagement, and satisfaction. And that’s how you improve business performance.

4. Choose Wisely.

We’ve all been there – there are lots of vacancies to fill, but with concerns over the fact that the current team is close to burnout if we don’t put bums on seats, we just need to fill those roles.

You’re setting yourself up for failure.

Because the time invested in the recruitment process, the onboarding process, and the estimated time of 3-6 months before they are contributing back into the business can all be lost if the ‘fit’ is not right in the first place. You can either choose to keep them as you need the skills, causing a toxic culture and other members of the team to leave, or you must let them go… meaning you’re back to square one. That damage is much more impactful than the risk of burnout in your current team. If you start cutting corners, you’re at risk of harming the whole team, and making it tougher to attract further talent.

So, let’s touch on point one again and think about the importance of your purpose and values here. They need to be clearly communicated pre-interview, across all touchpoints that the candidate will view in preparation, as well discussing them throughout the interview – as they are a huge part of every role.

Then, as part of the interview process, you can assess whether the candidate’s personal values are a good fit. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they must be exactly like us, but rather, that they’re going to challenge us, to help us improve our ways, and still respect the values and purpose of the company as part of that process.

Value-based interview questions can also enhance the process and aid the decision making. Be upfront and ask them why they want to work for you, because that answer might be the one point that makes a candidate stand out. And if that answer is around purpose, the values, about how the company makes them feel – then you’ve found your next employee.

5. Put It On The Agenda.

You should read this article and think, yes, that all makes sense, we do need to do this. Yes, our website is great at selling products/services, but not who we are. And, yes, we do need to help bringing those values to life, to help us grow. You’ll then take a call, jump in a meeting, and forget, because you’re busy. We get it, and we see it. All. The. Time.

So, whether you are looking for a Series B investment, riding on the back of a successful launch transforming the business, or just need to be fit for purpose, adding the layer that connects your people to your brand proposition is critical. People are your brand so make sure you recruit the right ones. It’s not fluffy, it’s not a ‘nice-to-have’. At the end of the day, it will affect your bottom line.

As for retaining, well, that’s your next challenge. But the good news is that as part of understanding who you bring into the business, you will naturally identify how to engage, motivate, and retain them. That’ll be because the purpose and values that you are fine-tuning, or bringing to life in your storytelling, will be about celebrating and rewarding them.

There is no brand without great people behind it. Invest wisely and your business will grow.

It’s time to take action and dig deep. Give us a call, tell us what your biggest challenge is, and we’ll give you a 1.5 hr no-obligation assessment of what we can see from an ‘outsider’ perspective. We hope you’re ready to make a splash.