7 Steps to Become a Lighthouse Employer

In an interview with prominent real estate guru Grant Cardone, entrepreneur Adam H. Michaels talks about the importance of keeping only the best talent in your organization and how to become an organization that people actively seek to become a part of. Adam calls these types of organizations that attract candidates “Lighthouse Employers”. Candidates actively seek out these types of employers because of the inherent value or perceived benefits of working for these employers.

But for many restaurant entrepreneurs, finding and retaining top talent is a struggle. In fact, employee turnover is a pervasive challenge for almost all employers, and can easily have hidden costs that you may not even realize. Millions of dollars are lost every year as a direct result of investing in recruiting, training, and then losing employees. Regardless of your industry niche, people are arguably one of the biggest assets you have, and it’s costly when you can’t find them or when you lose them.

So how do you become a “Lighthouse Employer”? How do you become an organization that stops chasing and instead naturally attracts top talent? Here are 7 steps you should be taking as a leader to become a lighthouse employer:

  1. Genuinely care about people, most especially your employees. You cannot be an employer that people want to work for if you only care about sales or profits. And the key part here is that it has to be genuine…people can see right through a fake show of concern for their well-being. Exude positive body language; be approachable; engage and interact with your employees regularly, and not just about their TPS reports. Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example of this; you can see how he engages with employees every day on his DailyVee.
  2. Demonstrate a personal obsession with making them happy and fulfilled. When you are seen as being more focused on your employees than your bottom line, your employees will take notice. People want to work for an organization where they can leave work everyday with a sense of fulfillment, and they are significantly less likely to pursue employment elsewhere if they are happy. Some studies even point to as much as a 12% increase in productivity when employees are happy.
  3. Publicly commit to making them successful. The best employers are often those that make their employees successful simply as a result of having worked there. Think of how many great chefs The French Laundry has produced. Legendary Chef Thomas Keller has a 3-step strategy for creating successful employees that specifically focuses on making his employees successful through mentorship.
  4. Mentor without expectation. In his iconic book on The Ritz-Carlton hospitality experience The New Gold Standard, Joseph Michelli talks about the importance of mentorship and lateral service. “It’s not about You” is actually the title of a chapter in his book. When you take the time to mentor your employees, you demonstrate a clear commitment to making them successful. The goal is to create employees that have the capacity for even greater success; as Thomas Keller says, “if I’m mentoring you, then you have to be better than me.  Otherwise I’m not as good as I think I am.”
  5. Celebrate small victories. “The Progress Principle” is an idea discussed in Harvard Business Review which establishes the powerful effect of celebrating small wins and the effect it has on long-term productivity and “inner work life”—the mix of an employee’s emotions, motivations, and perceptions over the course of a workday. Celebrating the small daily victories your employees have is crucial to reinforcing positive behavior and establishing a sustained sense of accomplishment.
  6. Recognize & reward personal & professional growth. Any recognition and rewards system should provide an employee with 2 things: motivation to maintain and improve their performance, and reinforcement of what behaviors and outcomes the organization values. But the ultimate goal is to foster intrinsic rewards. According to ZipRecruiter, 3 out of 4 employers have recognition programs, but only 58% of employees know about them. So it’s important to ensure communication and engagement, but don’t ever forget the power of an earnest and sincere “Thank you.”
  7. Get excited about positive turnover. Positive turnover isn’t just “Losing the Losers” as some employers seem to think. If you genuinely care about the success of your employees and you’ve trained and mentored them, then you must understand that eventually they will spread their wings and fly away. Again, think about Thomas Keller and the hundreds of successful restaurants that he is indirectly a part of…simply because he helped create and inspire the chefs that subsequently went on to open new restaurants. That is positive turnover, and it is one of the hallmarks of a lighthouse employer.

Recruiting and retaining top talent doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. If you want to stop wasting time, effort, and energy on chasing down talent, you need to reallocate your investment and instead build a culture that transforms your organization into a “Lighthouse Employer” and that organically attracts & keeps the talent that will make your organization successful.