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How to Become an Unquittable Company: Debut Book Teaches Talent Do’s & Don’ts

Jill Monte - Content Specialist ·

Have you ever been in awe of a company that seems to do everything perfectly? You know the ones … they have a recognizable, respected brand and mission, they find and hire the right people, positive culture is off the charts, and professional development opportunities are plentiful.

Unfortunately, many of us have worked for a company who operated on a philosophy of profit over people and had high turnover rates, with no defined mission or values. The main question here is: Do these types of sub-par organizations have a chance of turning things around? EDSI’s Managing Partner of EDSI Consulting, Jim Bitterle thinks they do, which is why he wrote his first book: Unquittable: Finding and Keeping the Talent You Need.

In this blog, Jim will answer questions about the findings from his book research and share best practices and “unquittable” tips companies can use to ensure their talent management strategy is effective and competitive in the 21st century. Jim brings more than 20 years of management consulting experience in the areas of talent management and organizational strategy. His leadership roles in general management, operational, organizational improvement, and strategic consulting engagements, as well as direct experience as a corporate leader, give him great perspective in understanding the universal need for all organizations to find, develop, and retain great people.

Q: Why did you decide to write a book on talent management strategy?

A: Talent has and always will be a hot topic in the business world. The idea for this book came to me after working with clients who were able to turn their company around by implementing some key talent management solutions. The book is intended to be a resource for CEOS and HR pros to look at different tools and strategies to help improve organizational culture and attract, develop and retain top talent.

Q: The economic situation we’re in right now is uncertain. How is this book relevant in today’s talent landscape?

A: Due to the COVID-19 recession, we’re not dealing with a war for talent now, but the best practices and innovative tools in the book are still very relevant and important.

In looking at the macro data, we had a talent shortage and now we have a recession. The Department of Labor still shows the trend of jobs growing faster than our workforce, so even though we may be in a recession for a while, when we come out of this, the war for talent is actually going to be worse. That’s why NOW is the perfect time for companies to focus on implementing solid talent principles, because when you’re really busy it’s hard to carve out time for improvement. If you plan and practice now, you can start making changes to help your company create an unquittable environment and be known as a great place to work. Then, when the war for talent fires back up again, your company will be one of the winners.

Q: What makes this book unique and more effective?

A: The biggest difference in my book is the format – it’s more of a fun, entertaining read versus a text-heavy, formal book. The book is broad in scope in order to provide various tools and strategies for businesses to employ.

Each chapter tells a good and bad talent story, with relatable characters playing the role of manager, employee, co-worker, etc. At the end of each chapter, readers get a recap of the most important points, including a “quittable” and an “unquittable” bulleted list.

Q: What advice do you offer in the book for companies dealing with low morale/high turnover?

A: I recommend starting with a talent dashboard. Start tracking the data on things like recruitment, time it takes to fill open positions, turnover, etc. First, try to understand the negative culture/talent issues, then figure out how much each issue (high turnover, for example) is costing your company. Then when you approach the CEO with improvement ideas, you’ll have the data and numbers to back up your case. Once the financial impact is defined, then it’s time to get buy-in from leadership to start making changes. If leadership is not bought in, unfortunately you won’t make much progress.

Q: When it comes to attraction/retention, what defines an unquittable organization?

A: There are many variables that make an organization Unquittable. I call the sum of these variables the company’s “Talent Ecosystem”. The Talent Ecosystem includes culture, corporate strategy, processes, policies, compensation, benefits, and physical space.

So given there’s no short answer to this question, here are a few thoughts. First, organizations must have a pulse on attraction and retention. Are we placing the right people into jobs and are they staying in those jobs? There’s a valuable tool I recommend all organizations use – and it’s free! EDSI’s talent management assessment measures the strength of your organization’s talent management strategy. It offers incredible insight into which of the five primary talent management areas your organization needs to improve, and companies learn how their organization compares to others.

Flexbility in the workplace also has a huge impact on retention. Unquittable organizations make it a point to get feedback from employees. It’s so important to be open-minded to meet employees’ needs with innovative solutions. It’s also important to remember that no singular flexibility system works for all organizations, and in many cases, a singular system doesn’t work for all departments within an organization. A few examples of flexibility programs include: Flex days, expanded PTO benefits, summer hours, sabbaticals, job sharing and flexible start/stop times.

Employer Branding is also important when it comes to attraction. Does your organization have a strong reputation? And does your reputation attract the types of employees that are culturally aligned?

Overall, a company’s talent ecosystem must be well rounded and balanced with the right talent, efficient processes, a positive culture, sensible physical space, average or above average compensation and benefits, and professional development to create an unquittable organization.

Q: What kind of professional development and training are expected by today’s workforce?

A: In recent studies, I found that young workers – millennials in particular – place high value on training and career development. And because they find that so valuable – more valuable than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers – companies, in order to be competitive, must offer programs that train and develop employees. The best thing a company can do is create a corporate university where curriculum is tied to career paths.

Most companies don’t have curriculum developers in their organization and there’s no need to hire people to do it because companies like EDSI can offer the resources and provide the service for that aspect of the corporate university. What we do is come into the company and talk to their subject matter experts, develop the training for them, and then hand it off for them to use when and how they want.

EDSI has helped clients build customized training and corporate university programs for over 30 years, which have resulted in improved talent attraction and retention rates.

Q: To become unquittable, where does a company start?

A: First, you must understand when the company isn’t operating optimally and commit to becoming unquittable. It won’t be easy and it will take time. You have to be in it for the long-haul.

These are some steps you can take to get started in your unquittable journey:

  1. Start with metrics monitoring through your talent dashboard to measure engagement, morale, turnover, how long to fill positions, etc.
  2. Study the metrics for several months and do a year-to-year comparison.
  3. Share your data with the leadership team and get their buy-in.
  4. Think about the company’s current culture and then define the aspirational culture.
  5. Ask these crucial questions:
  • What hasn’t worked in the past
  • What new goals can we set that are in line with company strategy & vision?
  • What do you want the overall company culture to look like?
  • How do you want managers to lead?
  • What are the gaps between our current culture and our aspirational culture?
  • How do we close those gaps?

As the company gets better, the metrics mentioned in step 1 will shift in a positive direction.

Q: When it comes to onboarding, where do companies usually go wrong?

A: Onboarding at many companies is usually is too short and too limited. A good onboarding program must include more than orientation, benefits explanation and IT setup before throwing an employee into their job.

A really great onboarding experience involves a more in-depth introduction that includes company history, who clients are, products/services overview, departmental overviews, key people to know in the organization, career paths, etc.

Did you know 43% of new hires quit after being hired because it wasn’t what they were expecting? A more robust and progressive onboarding process could reduce this number.
(TalentLMS, 2019)

It’s also crucial to talk in detail about the company’s core values during onboarding so people understand the culture and expectations. According to a 2019 Jobvite study, 61% of new hires get no training on corporate culture, which shows that companies clearly need improvement in this area. Unquittable organizations take it even a step further by assigning a mentor upon hire –a non-manager who they can go to if they need advice, guidance or reassurance.

Q: You mention highly desirable internships in chapter 3. What’s the secret sauce?

A: If you want the best talent from a university, you must pay well, offer meaningful work and impress them.

College kids know which places have the best internship experience. Word of mouth travels fast between students on campus. Many companies with highly desirable internship programs offer interns a meaningful project tied to what they’re studying in school and they work on it all summer. At the end of the summer, they present it to the executive team. This is rewarding for the intern and the company because the project outcome could have a real impact on the company.

Q: What is the worst talent situation you’ve witnessed in your years as a consultant?

A: Recently I had a client who treated his employees with such obvious disdain and did not value or appreciate them. The CEO ignored employee feedback and didn’t trust his leadership team. It was no surprise that employees were not engaged and the turnover rate was very high. In a situation like this, it’s no surprise that product quality ends up suffering. Today, the company is struggling to survive and the CEO still won’t change his ways. These problems ALWAYS start at the top!

On the flipside, a company like Judson Center is an in-progress success story. The CEO truly cares about employees and as a result of hard work, time, transparent communication and employee enrichment, the company is going through a cultural transformation. Their Glassdoor score has gone up from 2.7 to 4.5 in less than a year! As the culture shifts in a positive direction, turnover is less and employees want to stay. Everyone is on the same page, working toward similar goals that support company strategy.

Q: You must be a big fan of books to have written one! What are your favorite things to read?

A: Lately I’ve been on a biography kick. I just read Thomas Jefferson’s biography. It was so timely because it reminded me of how human our founding fathers were and how real the need is to assess the constitution and amend it because as times change, it needs to change too. It was never meant to be a static document, the founding fathers intended it to be a living document. That message translates to business: in order to get better, we can’t remain stuck in old ways. We must be open to new ideas in order to keep evolving and improving.

Q: What are your last words of advice to become an unquittable organization?

A: Don’t expect to grow an unquittable organization overnight. You’ll try some things and they won’t work, but don’t let that stop you. Keep trying different methods and communicate the vision. It usually takes 2 or more years to have a meaningful culture change. And remember: talent drives the success of a company; it drives the success of your business and the ability to achieve strategic and financial goals.

Q: Finally … the moment we’ve all been waiting for – where can we buy your book?

A: It’s for sale on Amazon and SHRM – I hope you enjoy it!

Jim B pic
EDSI's Jim Bitterle

To learn more about what it takes to become unquittable, reach out today!
We’ll connect you with Jim or one of our other talent experts.