As your company evolves, think about the best environment for your team

The U.S. is at full employment.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of July 1, national unemployment is at 5.3 percent and in the Bay Area unemployment is at 4.1 percent. This is great news if you are looking for a job, but challenging when you are a CEO looking to attract and retain the best talent. In this tight job market for talent, small- and medium-sized businesses need to be even more creative to compete for talent.

To attract and retain talent, small- and medium-sized company CEOs in the Bay Area have shifted company culture. They lead with a corporate culture that includes what millennials want — meaning in their work, opportunities for growth, strong relationships with peers, flexible time and clear communication.

Consider the following as you shape your culture:

Work’s impact on the world
Companies that articulate how they have an impact on the world and can change the human experience attract and retain talent. Millennials look for a sense of purpose in their work. An example is a staffing firm that holds regular “happy hour” fundraisers for at-risk youth and has built that cause into their company culture.

Growth, both personal and organizational
Today’s employees are interested in learning from each other and sharing ideas. They seek opportunities to advance their careers and take on more responsibility. One service company redesigned career paths to include lateral moves to maintain employee engagement. Combined with frequent feedback and coaching the firm has increased retention.

Strong relationships at work
Organizational cultures, which take a strong interest in building relationships among peers, teams and managers, report high retention rates. One staffing company encourages these relationships and reports that most of their younger employees are roommates, socialize together outside of work and are good friends. One software development company holds a quarterly social gathering and flies team members in from around the U.S. It is not a company meeting; it’s a big party.

Flexible time
Flexibility at work can include working from home, job sharing, 4-day work weeks, comp time, etc. This type of flexibility requires clear metrics and accountability for each employee: With clear accountability, performance rises.

A user experience strategy company allows employees to move and work from remote locations. The impact on retention is high: salaries go much further in less expensive locations, improving the employee standard of living and increasing retention rates.

Rather than looking at time at work vs. vacation, holiday and sick leave or paid time off and leave without pay, an ad agency now offers unlimited vacation policy. This allows individual employees to manage their time off and companies to reduce the accrued vacation liability.

Once the appropriate policies and activities are in place communicate regularly and often.

Ask your leadership team to consider your current culture. Identify where you are strong and areas to develop in order to create a culture that attracts and retains talent. When you do, please email me what works for your business.

Julie Reinganum is the San Francisco Chair at Vistage International.