The mindset and behavior of the best talent has changed over the last five to 10 years. Be it competing generational perspectives, different worldviews on the importance of work or simply more available options, yesterday’s recruiting methods will not attract and retain the best performers. It’s time to rethink old norms.

One unifying principle is the impact and role of organizational mission. Without compelling context, even the best opportunities can feel like just another job. People have started realizing that the work/life balance is largely a myth. They expect crossover between work and life, and they are attracted to a higher purpose that invites them to lend their skills and expertise to something bigger then themselves. The best talent with the most options will all but insist on it.

While the ideal state is working for an organization that is wholly aligned around a compelling mission, individual departments or teams can offer interesting sub-cultures, inclusivity and an invitation for employees to exercise their occupational purpose. The following principles can help you attract and retain the best talent.

Build a Talent Cultivation Pipeline

Not unlike the way that marketing or sales teams build a lead and opportunity pipeline, the best talent must be cultivated. In business development, when a great prospect comes in, the team uses carefully planned touchpoints to capture and cultivate that prospect. As time goes by, this subtle yet proactive approach builds valuable connections.

You can use a similar approach. Start by producing great content for prospective talent. Help passive job seekers understand why your organization should be their next step career stop. After they have developed awareness and potential interest, your talent cultivation strategy may expand to include more focused touchpoints, such as open house invitations for future talent to interact with current team members and get a taste of the unique culture. You might even offer complimentary professional development resources or mastermind classes. The goal is to help candidates imagine themselves inside a world with extraordinary employer commitment to their success.

Focus on Development

The days of hiring in mass and saddling newbies with poorly designed, nonsensical materials on a learning management system (LMS) for self-study should be behind us. Sadly, this is still the current state of onboarding in many companies. The best organizations realize that they must do more. While providing a digital “hub” of content is still acceptable, modern professional development is experiential and must be driven by the interests of the learner.

This approach may include using personality assessment data from the hiring process to provide a lens into developmental opportunities. With data as a baseline, curate learning experiences by combining access to video-based, masterclass content. Then, sponsor a lunch where employees come together and discuss ways to apply what they learned in those videos. Next, create an environment where peers post new ideas and share discoveries for others to try. In this environment, traditional mentorship is replaced with structured meet-ups where people can proactively engage with others in the organization who have certain knowledge and expertise.

Activate Purposeful Philanthropy

Guided philanthropy can be an engagement and development tool if it’s aligned to the company’s talent strategy. When purpose-driven organizations create meaningful experiences for their people to give back, it develops gratitude in both the employee who is serving and the community that is benefiting. In both cases, the emotional halo strengthens the collective bonds that they have with the organization — a win-win.

When skills learning is added to that feel-good philanthropy, it can impact individual memory and behavior in ways that the classroom or an isolated learning cannot. Activating purposeful philanthropy is possible only through the strategic planning and collaboration of key internal leaders. When this advance work happens, guided philanthropy can tap into a deeper level of humanity and become a major differentiating factor in your organization’s value proposition for prospective and current talent.

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