Chess pieces - Pawn besting the queen - Winning the war for talent
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Recruiting and retaining a company's best employees has always been a challenge. But in a job market that is this tight and when digital transformation is an imperative, it quickly becomes critical. While years ago foosball tables, well-stocked refrigerators, snack baskets and state-of-the art laptops might have been key in attracting talent, not so much anymore. As it turns out, software engineers, product managers, developers and others with their $150k+ salaries do not mind procuring their own snacks, games and gear and prefer more impactful benefits.

Competitive Salary is the Starting Point

While competitive salaries are good, that is where the conversation begins, especially with millennials according to Brandon Rigoni, Ph.D. and Amy Adkins. "Millennials are consumers of the workplace. They shop around for the jobs that best align with their needs and life goals. More than ever, employers need to know and act on the factors that make their company appealing to these candidates. They have to make it easy for prospects to choose them over their competition," they wrote this in the Harvard Business Review.

We spoke with experts to find out what today's workers really want. So if you want to increase retention and recruitment in this highly competitive and ever-changing environment, we offer these 5 tips to help win the war for tech and marketing talent.

Related Article: 8 Skills Every Digital Leader Needs

Traditional Benefits Rule

According to Glassdoor's chief economist Andrew Chamberlain, "Having flashy office perks and stock options isn't enough."Workers want traditional benefits like employer-paid health and dental insurance, vacation and other kinds of paid time off, generous 401(k) plans, such as those that match dollar-to dollar, and so on.

Help With Student Loans

According to website StudentLoanHero the average college graduate (bachelor’s degree class of 2017) has $37,172 in student loan debt. The stress related to repaying that debt (payments are sometimes as high as $400- 800 or more per month) is causing loss of sleep, anxiety and decreased productivity. As a result, some employers are helping their workers pay off their student loans. It's a good idea. In fact, according to a survey by the American Student Assistance Program , 86 percent of workers with student loans said "I would commit to my employer for 5 years if they helped pay off my student loans."

Another survey by CommonBond indicates that even if employers don't directly contribute toward paying-off debt, if they provide tools (like refinancing under lower interest rates) 85 percent of applicants will accept job offers and the tenure of employment will rise 2.5 years.

Related Article: 4 Skills to Look For When Hiring a Marketing Manager

Companies That Have a Positive Societal Impact

Employees, especially millennials, want to feel like they are working for an organization that contributes to the overall good of the world. Whether it's giving a pair of eyeglasses away for everyone that you sell, like Warby Parker, or shoes for every pair that you ship like Tom's One for One program or making the world a better place by committing to the United Nations Global Goals (No Poverty. Zero Hunger. Good Health and Well-Being. Quality Education. Gender Equality. Clean Water and Sanitation. Affordable and Clean Energy for Sustainability the way SAP does.

Time and Space For Extracurricular Goals

EY, for example, has an Earthwatch Ambassadors’ program that not only supports employees with paid time-off, but also funds their travel, accommodation and other expenses when they do community service and field research. Microsoft offers a similar MySkills4Afrika program that provides individuals and organizations across the continent opportunities to obtain and learn technology. Salesforce has a Volunteering and Giving program through which employees can use their skills and Salesforce products to help nonprofit organizations transform. Or employees can receive 7 paid days off to do things like build houses or volunteer at schools. Or they can request that Salesforce donate to a qualifying non-profit of their choice.

Flexible Work Schedules

According to a study by NextGen:A global generational study conducted by PwC, the University of Southern California and the London Business School, today's workforce understands work as a "thing" and not a "place" and believes they should be able to choose their own hours, like starting their work days later and putting extra time in time at night, if necessary. "A significant number of employees from all generations feel so strongly about wanting a flexible work schedule that they would be willing to give up pay and delay promotions in order to get it," concludes the report. 

The authors also noted that "Millennials do not believe that productivity should be measured by the number of hours worked at the office, but by the output of the work performed."