The bidding war is over: Amazon is moving to the Big Apple and next door to the nation’s capital.
The company’s selection of New York City and Northern Virginia for its new headquarters is a major win for the combined 50,000 people Amazon will employ in those regions. Labor market participants will have many more job opportunities to choose from, and considering Amazon’s high-profile status and recent minimum wage hike to $15 per hour, the company is an ideal employer for many candidates.
However, the excitement this news generates for the job market is not shared by local companies, which now face more pressure than ever to recruit and retain top talent. Attracting skilled candidates is already a major challenge for companies across the US: Job openings hit a record high this past July with nearly 7 million vacancies, outnumbering unemployed people by 659,000. To compete with Amazon, employers in these markets will need to use the right non-monetary benefits to attract the best applicants and keep existing employees from leaving.
Questions Local Companies Should Consider
Working for a major player like Amazon comes with perks, but 29 percent of Gen. Z-ers prefer an empowering work culture over higher compensation. Rather than trying to keep up with Amazon’s business model, local companies should focus on creating positive workplace cultures that keep employees engaged.
To evaluate the effectiveness of their current workplace environments and determine the areas they should improve to maintain a competitive edge, employers should answer the following questions:
- How do my employees perceive the workplace culture at my organization? Do they consider it a positive, neutral, or negative environment?
- What am I actively doing to enhance the workplace culture at my organization?
- What is the onboarding process like? Do new hires feel confident in the training they receive to do their jobs?
- What opportunities does my organization offer employees when it comes to ongoing training to grow their careers?
- Does my organization offer opportunities for employees to socialize and collaborate with teams outside their departments?
- Does my business offer incentives beyond pay or bonuses to motivate employees?
- Are my employees equipped with the right tools to do their jobs effectively? Do my employees experience frustrations with communication silos or misinformation?
- Is there anything else I can do to make the employee experience better at my organization?
Companies going head-to-head with Amazon will have to market themselves as great places to work and deliver on that promise. What keeps employees at the same company for years is an atmosphere they enjoy working in every day with opportunities to move up. Keeping these workplace priorities in mind, employers can leverage their tech stacks and digital workplaces to compete with conglomerates like Amazon.
How Local Companies Can Keep Employees Engaged
Making employees’ lives at work as easy as possible is key to keeping them engaged, but many employees waste time on tasks that could be easily eliminated with the right collaboration tools. An Igloo Software study found that the average worker spends nearly 20 percent of the workweek looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues, while 23 percent of workers say it takes 5-10 minutes just to access the latest version of a document. Connecting people and information through a centralized workflow removes the pain points employees face throughout their day, creating a more enjoyable and convenient employee experience.
One simple way employers can streamline communication and improve collaboration is through digital workplace tools. When all documents and messaging platforms are housed under one roof, employees can easily find the resources they need and feel connected to their colleagues. Business owners can also create engagement opportunities best suited for their organizations, like discussion forums, leadership blogs, mentorship programs, training modules, and internal social media channels.
With the added congestion Amazon will most likely bring to New York City and Arlington, employees in these markets will also be drawn to organizations with flexible work-from-home policies. Business owners should accommodate the needs of remote workers by providing tools that eliminate information silos caused by the inconsistent use of various, unintegrated communication channels — a common problem among distributed teams.
As Amazon sets up shop on the East Coast and upsets the job market, employers need to analyze their cultures and improve their employee experiences to avoid losing their top talent. Strong communication and collaboration solutions can help local companies retain a competitive edge over one of the biggest industry players.
Mike Hicks is vice president of strategy at Igloo Software.
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