5 Ways to Reel-In Top Talent

Amenities are not what they used to be

by Haworth, Inc.

We’ve all heard the stories of companies where “everyone wants to work”—the ones that offer employees things like game rooms, company cars, and free gourmet lunches.. Those are some great perks, but the workforce is changing. Now, people are choosing to work for employers that offer new types of amenities that speak more to a company’s culture and values—as well as their own.

People want to work in a modern facility with a variety of spaces that offer choice in where to perform their activities. They want views of nature that inspire creativity and access to daylight to support their well-being. And they want to connect with people in relaxed settings that encourage communication, collaboration, and innovation. Most of all, they want an employer who values them and understands their needs—one that lets them be part of a social community that merges work, relationships, well-being, and personal interests.

For example, see how public utility company American Water supports their employees and attracts top talent:

Today’s Perks

Here are five amenities that sway jobseekers toward choosing a specific employer:

1.      Easy Access to Public and Alternative Transportation

Public transportation and “alternative transportation modes” are becoming increasingly mainstream. Taking the train, bus, or ferry is simple, convenient, and promotes sustainability. Easy access to these stations and stops is something prospective employees seek out—and it gives businesses extended reach into surrounding locations to procure the best and brightest.

As reported by NPR, powerhouse employer Amazon intentionally chose to open its two newest corporate offices near public transportation. McDonald’s even relocated its corporate office from suburban Oak Brook, Illinois to a downtown Chicago site within walking distance of two “L” stops, two commuter rail stops, and several bus stops.

Younger working adults often look to transportation modes that serve the environment to an even greater extent, as well. Many companies are ensuring that people are able to easily bike, walk, run… even scooter, rollerblade or skateboard to, from, and around work.  American Water added a community park in front of their headquarters with a riverfront path connecting to a variety of urban city transit routes. Their building features a convenient onsite bike storage room, as well.

2. Health and Well-Being

People are a company’s greatest asset. To keep them healthy and performing their best, many businesses try to invest more money into healthcare programs. However, illness rates and time missed continue to rise. And while good health coverage is a concern for prospective employees, they are looking for more.

Creating a healthy work environment that addresses holistic well-being is important for attracting top talent, keeping them engaged, and supporting their peak performance.

  • Access to daylight, views, and the outdoors are top drivers in workplace choice and satisfaction, providing a stress-reducing connection to nature.
  • Height-adjustable worksurfaces and a variety of spaces people can choose from nudge employees to move around during the workday.
  • Easy access to an on-site fitness center will really get people moving.
  • A cafeteria with healthy food choices ensures that people are fueled with the proper nutrition.

3. Variety and Choice

People need—and expect—some degree of control over how, when, and where they work. Offering variety and choice at work is essential in recruiting new talent and keeping current employees engaged.

  • Collaboration is a key component of innovation. Group spaces for meetings and brainstorming sessions should be available for employees to create and plan together.
  • Social spaces provide spots for people to gather and do some of that collaboration in comfortable, lounge settings. Social spaces also offer areas to gather informally, chat, or just relax and refresh—all part of the creative process.
  • People also need areas for focus, developing ideas, and working through solutions. Individual workstations should be designed to offer protection from visual and auditory distractions as needed for the task at hand.
  • The internet gives people the ability to work remotely anytime, anywhere they choose. Companies that promote this flexibility and agility for at least part of their employees’ work time have a big leg-up when it comes to recruiting talent who seek work/life integration. And psst… that’s nearly everyone.

4. Branding and Design

People want to work for a company with a story to tell. It’s important to be transparent about that brand story, your company values, and organizational culture. One of the best ways to do that is to put it all on display at the workplace. Incorporate branding elements and design themes that promote what your company stands for, while welcoming people in.

When you look at American Water’s new headquarters building, you understand and feel their connection to water. It’s not just in the name on the sign. Inside you’ll find architectural elements, such as huge atrium waterfalls, a five-story staircase that looks like flowing water, and a large social space called the “Lantern” that overlooks the river and is adorned with hanging blue glass water molecule sculptures. They’ve even added an Innovation Center, which showcases the company’s 130+ year history and features a single-drop waterfall in the center to symbolize how each employee’s effort contributes to a larger outcome.

5. Make Life Easy, Fun, and Interesting

It’s important to create a sense of community that incorporates employees’ personal interests and relationships with others.

  • Adding social spaces and water cooler areas in the workplace encourages human connection by creating moments for spontaneous interaction.
  • In addition to a standard training and development curriculum, consider adding other educational opportunities for employees. These can include classes covering just about anything your employees may enjoy learning more about, such as a second (or third) language, photography, yoga, healthy cooking—the possibilities are endless. 
  • You can also sponsor employee clubs, such as a young professionals’ organization, a Toastmasters chapter, or even a book club.
  • Host events that bring people together—inside and outside your company. American Water, for example, offers its riverfront park to surrounding community members for public use. They’ve even hosted picnics and viewing for 4th of July fireworks.

In the end, it all comes back to making the working environment comfortable, flexible, and supportive of employees’ needs. Survey employees, talk with them, and keep an open dialogue to address the things that are important to them. Create a place where people live to work—not work to live.

Check out the American Water case study to see more ways they promote their culture and community, engage current employees, and entice new talent to join the company.


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