How cause, community and career are your best tools for attracting and retaining talent

It ain’t just about the money

It’s official: most of us don’t like our jobs. Or so a Gallup survey shows. According to research, 85% of workers worldwide admit to hating their jobs [1]. Whilst we all kind of knew there is job dissatisfaction out there, at Let’s Talk Talent we were surprised to realise the issue is so widespread. And some more digging revealed that those figures haven’t really improved during the last ten years or so. But with so many organisations actively setting up concrete talent retention and employee engagement initiatives, how can this level of professional unhappiness still remain? Could it be due to a generational shift? Are millennials just that much more demanding when it comes to job satisfaction?

Actually, no. It would appear that all working age groups seem to have similarly aligned priorities [2]. Which would leave one potential explanation: that most organisations are focussing on the wrong things and failing to have real impact on employee engagement levels. If that’s the case, what can you do as a business to ensure you have an engaged workforce?

At Let’s Talk Talent, we think the answer is simple: community, cause and career (the 3Cs) are your best allies when it comes to attracting and retaining great people. The concept of the 3Cs was introduced recently and we agree that they are the basis upon which to cultivate motivation in the modern workplace. In short, we truly believe that understanding employees, giving them flexibility to be themselves at work and not putting them in boxes is the only way to create lasting employee engagement.

Of course, pay and reward has to be taken into account. But we do not believe salary should be considered as one of the main motivation-generating factors. Sort of like having a stroppy teenager doing chores to gain screen time isn’t the picture of employee engagement you’d have in mind.

At Let’s Talk Talent, we think cause, community and career can help you understand what truly gets your people up in the morning and find fulfilment beyond their pay-check.

Understanding the 3Cs – Cause

Cause simply means that your employee’s personal values must align with that of your organisation. Just like you wouldn’t expect a vegan to work for a leather company, an employee focussed on openness and honesty would not thrive in a business where communication is sparse or murky. Which is why being clear and transparent from the start of the recruitment process and painting an accurate picture of what it is like to work within your organisation is key to both attracting and retaining the right talent.

Your choice of social responsibility program can also be a driver for talent. Identifying with your mission, values and CSR initiatives is going up on candidates’ checklists when considering whether to join or leave a company, as they wish to have an impact within their local or global community. Selecting a cause that reflects your corporate values can ensure a good fit between like-minded employees and the organisation, as well as give you a competitive edge in terms of talent management.

Cause is also about giving your employees the opportunity to have a meaningful impact within their role, their team and the company by contributing to the business’ success. Reward Gateway is a great example of generating employee engagement through cause. Its platform is dedicated to ‘bridging the gap between employees and employers’ [3] and allowing the impact of their work to be celebrated and recognised amongst both their peers and their managerial team through various initiatives such as peer-to-peer nominations and staff satisfaction surveys.

Understanding the 3Cs – Community

Relationships are crucial, and work relationships can have a considerable influence on motivation levels within your business. Community is about feeling respected and developing a sense of belonging and connection amongst professional colleagues. It may seem like this element is a harder one to cultivate and slightly out of your reach. Afterall, whether people get on is not something you can control as an employer, right? Actually, community is also about allowing people to fully be themselves, express their opinions without fear of judgement and more importantly, being seen as individuals rather than job titles. And these goals can all be encouraged and supported by your organisation.

In order to do so, it is important to spend time getting to know your employees on a deeper level, as well as set up initiatives that will encourage connections within your company. We couldn’t think of a better example of this than PropellerNet and their famous gumball machine [4]. 

The Bristol-based digital marketing agency dedicates 5% of its profits to making employees’ dreams come true.

This is done using a repurposed gumball machine in which each employee submits their dreams, one of which is realised each time the company reaches a specific target, creating a huge level of engagement towards achieving corporate success as a team.

Understanding the 3Cs – Career

The fact that career can be a motivation-generating factor may seem like a given, but this is such as key part of why people want to go to work that it bears repeating. Career, by definition, involves development, a sense of progression and the ability to be autonomous and use one’s own strengths to contribute to a wider goal. As such, it cannot be a one-size-fits-all linear concept and job expectations must be aligned with your employees, their skillsets and professional goals. At Let’s Talk Talent, we approach the career element though a customised lens, putting an organisation and its main talent attraction and retention objectives at the very centre of all aspects of their talent management strategy.  

This is why we are very proud to have contributed to King’s College career planning strategy, a fantastic example of helping employees build meaningful and customised career progression plans by putting the individual at the centre of everything. The project included several tools and various practical exercises to support the employee, their managers and the business in their efforts to match people with purpose.  By truly understanding individual values, strengths and skills, the organisation is therefore ensuring staff are not put in set boxes and receive the training they need to reach their individual goals and be themselves at work, as opposed to focussing on the corporate expectations of a particular position.


Whilst many organisations are actively trying to generate employee engagement, which in itself is great news, it seems we may need to slightly shift the focus to ensure people are truly being given the tools needed to feel motivated and recognised as individuals. So what does this mean in every day life? Whilst they are a lovely thought, free snacks in the cafeteria or sleeping pods in the break-room just won’t cut the mustard.

The key to success is through understanding your staff’s individual strengths and expectations and unlocking their potential in a way which will ensure their professional contribution is recognised and impactful. Yes, that sounds more complex than giving away a lot of free stuff or focussing on pay and reward alone.

But the good news is that in order to start working on cultivating all three components of the 3Cs, you have one clear starting point. By taking the time to have regular, transparent and open conversations with your employees and getting to know them on a deeper level, you will be better equipped to connect people with purpose, ensuring your talent pool is engaged, motivated and rearing to go. Every single day. And if you’d like to find out how to start applying the 3Cs’ principles within your organisation today, we’re here to help.

Register for our Career Planning WhatsApp course for practical tips on how to help your staff create their own kickass career progression plans. View our upcoming free HR courses for more free webinars and events you might find useful.

Career Planning Whitepaper
Download our Career Planning Whitepaper and reach your potential

[1] Burrows, S., 2017. 85% Of People Hate Their Jobs, Gallup Poll Says. [Accessed 5 April 2020].

[2] Goler, L., Gale, J., Harrington, B. and Grant, A., 2018. The 3 Things Employees Really Want: Career, Community, Cause. Harvard Business Review. [Accessed 5 April 2020].

[3], [Accessed 5 April 2020].

[4] BBC Bitesize. n.d. Five Workplace Perks You Didn’t Know You Wanted. [Accessed 5 April 2020].

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