With today’s tight job market, and an average unemployment rate of less than 4% in America, companies are looking for new and creative ways to attract and retain top talent. We believe the companies that lean into change for the good of their team and their business, will lead the way in this endeavor. The workplace has changed significantly over the past decade, and people are no longer satisfied with minimal standard benefits. It is not one size fits all. People are looking for work-life balance options, opportunities to learn and grow, and a company culture that reflects their interests. Twisthink noticed this change and adopted new strategies. Perhaps you can learn from these changes and strategies to attract and retain talent within your own company.
1: Lean into Change and Flexibility
Harvard Business Review did a study that found that 96% of U.S. professionals say they need flexibility, but only 47% actually have it. Through our own research within our organization we also found that flexibility and work-life balance was highly desirable by our team. Over the past 1-2 years, Twisthink has thought strategically about how we can offer a more flexible work environment and schedule for our team, that still allows us to serve our customers with excellence. We have seen that adopting a more flexible work environment and culture strengthens retention within the company as well as serves as a great talent attraction tool.
One way we have done this is through flexible work hours where the team can create a work schedule that accommodates their lifestyle. This flexibility makes it easier to schedule appointments, attend to any family needs, or even avoid high traffic times for those with longer commutes. We adjusted our weekly meetings around this framework too, to make sure we fully supported this change. In addition, we also offer our team location independence, allowing them to work away from the office once a week.
Another example is, during the summer months from July to August we offer flexible Friday’s where we allow our team to leave the office at noon to enjoy Michigan’s beautiful (but short) summer. This gives our team a longer weekend to enjoy with family and friends and recharge for Monday.
Taryn, Twisthink’s Project Director, said, “As a mom of 2 small children, flexibility is very important to me. I needed a company that would allow me to have some flexibility in my day to day life and trust me enough to get my work done. Twisthink has done just that, and I feel fortunate to work for a company that allows me to juggle my other full-time job at home!”
While looking at ways to attract new talent and grow our team, Twisthink noticed another change happening in the market. We observed that a majority of our clients were spending time away from the office between Christmas and New Year’s Day. We jumped on board and are now offering our team 12 paid holidays off with 5 of those days at the end of the year! What a great way to spend more time with family and return energized to start the year on January 2nd.
Two of Twisthink’s values are “team” and “agility.” When discussing these flexible benefit changes in our business, we wanted to be confident that they would enhance our values rather than devaluate them. We first tested these new ideas as “prototypes” to make sure it didn’t negatively affect our business. What we found through that process is these changes did not compromise productivity but rather they were greatly appreciated by the team, and they realized the leadership’s willingness to lean into change. Therefore, we decided in 2019 to fully implement each prototype into our business framework. When you hire great talent, you can trust them to do great work regardless of where or when they are working.
2: Invest in Individual + Team Development
As a professional service firm, we strongly believe in the importance of continuing our team’s learning and development here at Twisthink. That is why we encourage, create and support a learning environment to help further develop our team’s skills and knowledge. This includes 1 on 1 mentoring, conference and tradeshow opportunities, online courses, leadership programs and more.
“As a firm we believe investing in development is the only way to produce great teammates that delivers excellence, which is why each teammate is allocated up to 100 hours of professional development each year,” said Matt Shinew, Team Director.
Another way we focus on professional development is through regular mentorship and collaboration. Each team member is assigned a lead when they join the team, and each lead creates an individual development plan (IDP) specific to that individual to outline responsibilities, goals, accomplishments, and lessons learned. There is regular two-way communication regarding their development and their current work activities through monthly 1-on-1 meetings. This is an opportunity for relationships to be built and to exchange consistent feedback. We also provide 6-month reviews for new teammates and annually thereafter.
Although developing teammates technical skills is very important, its also important to develop business leaders. Being a small company, we want to train everyone to have a business mindset. This helps teammates see the direct impact their work is making on the business while also developing strong communication skills, passion and taking ownership and responsibility. When you combine technically inclined teammates with business-savvy leaders, you create a great team!
3: Spend Time as a Team Having Fun
We value speed and excellence, but we also value creativity and hospitality and these activities contribute largely to those values and to employee satisfaction and retention.
When asked about Twisthink’s culture, Brent Beukema, Senior Industrial Designer said, “I love that our culture isn’t created from a belief one person has of what good culture needs to be – ours is created from inclusion and consensus that reflects the values that are meaningful to us. This approach allows our unique culture to grow as we grow, and always be what we want it to be.”
Our team works hard, spends a lot of time together and we are fully committed to making that experience as enjoyable and fruitful as possible. That is why we spend time each month, and often each week, taking a moment to relieve workday stress and have some fun as a team through events like:
“Souper Fridays” during the fall and winter months, where a local chef will come into the office and make fresh soup for our team to enjoy during a lunch-and-learn and presentation. We also do Friday afternoon beer/wine carts, celebrate Pi day and Oberon release day, have potlucks on Labor Day and Memorial May, and even have weekly Friday morning meetings with a small breakfast snack for the team.
We also plan events throughout the year where we can spend time together away from the office. These include holidays parties, a family picnic, Griffin’s hockey night out, and more. While we do have your typical holiday party in the winter and picnic in the summer, we also like to switch it up and have more unique events ranging from teammates only, spouses, and the whole family invited! From ping-pong tournaments, to Griffin’s hockey night out, golf outing’s and even an occasional trip to Lake Michigan on the partner’s boat… we’re always finding ways to have fun as a team, because team culture is imperative for a great workplace.