Company Culture is #1 to Job Seekers in Indy

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Ten years ago, you wouldn't think that "Naptown" would be known as a national tech hub, but that's exactly the title that Indianapolis is heading towards. Powerhouse companies like Salesforce, Angie's List and Interactive Intelligence have stake in the city, and there are dozens more startups calling the Circle City home.

Nearly 5,000 tech jobs were added in the Indianapolis metro area from 2013-2015, and while this is great news for residents, community leaders and business owners, it does bring forth one problem: talent. The lack of tech talent isn’t a problem that Indy, or the Midwest, faces alone. Fortune reports that we could be approaching a tech talent shortage at its highest level since 2008.

It’s no surprise that startups are in constant competition with tech powerhouses for strong talent. Looking at Indianapolis specifically, there are hundreds of startups competing with major companies like Appirio, Cheetah Digital, and Salesforce. So how do startups win these potential employees over? Well, word of mouth goes a long way.

Job seekers always have their ears open. So, whatever they hear about your company - good or bad - they’re likely to believe and it’s likely to sway their decision on working with you or not. Good word-of-mouth comes from good employees within your organization, good client relations and good partners within the community.

One of the most important things that these job seekers are looking for is company culture. Gone are the days of an Office Space-style environment. Employees are demanding more out of their employers, like the option of working from home, free snacks, take-your-dog-to-work days, fitness facilities and unlimited vacation, just to name a few. This is something most large companies can’t accommodate, but startups can, and that’s the number one way that startups are attracting top-level talent.

Millennials are the generation driving workplace changes and expectations, and it’s a fact that they desire a strong company culture. In fact, Forbes says that they’re putting this at the top of their list when deciding who to work for. So if it’s really culture that’s attracting this top-talent, what’s stopping everyone from jumping on the bandwagon?

It’s not just good for attracting good talent, it’s also good for keeping that talent. Entrepreneur says that “the probability of job turnover in poor company culture is more than 48 percent. The benefits of retaining employees speak for themselves. High employee turnover costs business owners time, resources and productivity. And it’s a fact that employees who are happy are less likely to leave. A Gallup survey says that unhappy employees cost American businesses over $300 billion each year.

Diversity also makes a huge impact on company culture. Today, diversity and inclusion means more than just age, religion, gender, and race—it also includes hiring employees with different values, different viewpoints and different life experiences. Keep in mind that diversity on every level is important—from employees that are a variety of ages, background levels, and experience levels, to employing a mix of males and females. Ensuring you build a team that features all of these characteristics will lead to a stronger work environment.

If investing time and money to create or elevate your company culture can help you attract and retain top talent, especially when you’re competing with much larger companies who can often offer more money and better benefits, the option seems to be the only one on the table. Well that, or lose out on quality talent that would benefit your business, and that doesn’t seem like a very viable option.

David Kerr is chief executive officer of Octiv.

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