5 minute read 26 Apr 2018
employee receiving award

How to connect the growth of your people to the growth of your company

By

US Americas

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

5 minute read 26 Apr 2018
Related topics Workforce Purpose

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Award-winning entrepreneurs explain how having the right talent strategy helps them engage and empower their employees.

The world is full of inspiring business leaders, and EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® celebrates their achievements and shares key leadership insights.

2016 marked the 30th anniversary of the awards program in the US. Over those 30 years, the entrepreneurs honored have consistently driven innovation in their fields.

Beyond contributing a projected US$1t in revenue and employing more than 14 million people in 2015 alone, these award-winning entrepreneurs have also developed robust approaches to the most vexing challenges facing 21st-century business.

This series looks at their approaches to risk, growth, talent and purpose in their efforts to build great, enduring companies.

Millennials have become notoriously fickle job-switchers. They need to feel that they are part of the organization and to know that they have a stake in its future.

 

When Harvard Business Review Analytic Services surveyed 500 of the US winners of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award to discover their top five challenges in launching their companies, the results pointed to one big issue. Overwhelmingly, getting your talent right was seen as the most important factor for businesses to succeed, both in the early start-up years and as these companies scaled to become market leaders.

Clearly, talent is of paramount importance to some of the world’s most cutting-edge firms. But what does it mean to have a solid talent strategy?

The talent war

For most companies, finding the right talent for the right job is not getting easier. As baby boomers retire, and millennials enter the work force, they are redefining expectations of working life.

HR teams need to know exactly what talent their companies and industries need, and how to get it. This goes well beyond the traditional, technical skills required for certain positions. Soft skills like empathy, listening, collaboration and cooperation are equally valuable — and are harder to assess via standard recruitment processes.

Furthermore, good team members should be able to do more than just perform their tasks — they should also have ideas that can drive the business to and beyond the vision of their leaders. Attracting and nurturing this kind of talent is vital.

Good hiring should “allow you to create an organization of entrepreneurs … they’re going to be able to move, they’re going to be able to shift, they’re going to be able to be creative, they’re going to be able to be innovative,” according to Vitamix CEO Jodi Berg, who won the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year award in 2014.

Keep ‘em sweet

It’s not enough, however to just attract the right talent. Millennials have become notoriously fickle job-switchers, and retaining top talent requires commitment and purpose. If promising employees are to be convinced to stick around and help drive growth and success, they need to feel that they are part of the organization and to know that they have a stake in its future.

Engendering a sense of belonging could be as simple as having management make newcomers feel personally welcome. This was the approach taken by NPS Pharmaceuticals CEO Francois Nader, a 2013 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year award winner, who made a habit of shaking the hand of every new employee at his company as they arrived. “For many people who work here, it is the first time they personally have met a CEO,” he says. “It is amazing how much employee engagement you can build from seemingly small gestures of recognition.”

In addition to strong, personally engaged leadership, it is also important for companies to cater to the needs of their employees. This can range from relatively obvious things, like good pay and a fun workplace, to more structural changes in the organization, such as adopting “flat” management structures through which all employees are empowered to exchange ideas with management.

Encouraging deeper engagement among employees isn’t just good for their self-esteem — it’s also good for the business, as engaged employees can help spot opportunities and areas that need improvement. For Jodi Berg, this approach “allows you to create an organization of entrepreneurs.” Or as Jessica Herrin, founder and CEO of Stella & Dot and a 2011 award winner, puts it, “You’ve got have a team that feels empowered to do their best work.”

In 2016, EY analysts quantified the combined accomplishments of these 9,200 visionary men and women and joined forces with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services to interview many of the winners and capture the findings.

Summary

Entrepreneurs can’t do it all alone. To build a great business, you need to find the right people and build them into strong teams.

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By

US Americas

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

Related topics Workforce Purpose