To craft an effective recruitment
and retention strategy
■ ■ Create a sense of belonging.
■ ■ Sell the company’s vision.
■ ■ Share the company’s success.
■ ■ Know what employees value.
■ ■ Start now.
<< Talent continued from Page 124
talented employees. Today’s employees want more
than a paycheck. They want to “belong.” With technology companies, that sense of belonging is cultivated at the interview stage and weaved into the
day-to-day life of employees after they are hired.
At Gusto (formerly Zenpayroll), a San Francisco-based payroll company that has raised over
$150 million in venture capital, company values are
deeply instilled in the workforce. New hires are eval-
uated on their alignment with the company’s six val-
ues. During onboarding, the company’s leaders delve
into the values, and they are weaved into every com-
panywide meeting. Before making any decision at the
company, everyone always strives to ask, “Is this
aligned with our values?”
Company traditions equally play an important role
in creating a sense of belonging. When Gusto was a
smaller company, the team used to take week-long
“workations” once or twice a year, which involved
the whole company spending time living together in
a house. As the company grew larger, this tradition
evolved into the “Gustaway,” a series of one-day off-
site gatherings where 25 to 30 people from different
teams in the company come together. The detach-
ment from the day-to-day workplace refocuses the
relationships on the team and reminds employees that
they are part of a corporate family.
If these notions seem far-fetched for the mortgage
industry, you don’t have to look further than emerging
industry leader Movement Mortgage for evidence
that the approach does work. Leadership at Movement
Mortgage, which processed over $12 billion in loan volume in 2016, points to the company’s emphasis on
culture and values as a major source of organizational
Sell the vision
Overseeing a branch or a major region for a large
mortgage company may not alone inspire prospective
employees to seek you out. What enduring companies
have learned is that vision compels engagement and
drives action. Technology companies have adopted
this principle wholeheartedly.
Box, a publicly traded cloud-storage company used by
59 percent of Fortune 500 companies, is not just about
secure file sharing. According to their website, their
work is focused on “transforming the way people and
organizations work so they can achieve their greatest
ambitions.” Of course, cloud storage itself is a commodity. Yet Box’s vision has propelled it to attract over
44 million users at 69,000 businesses. The company
even employs a chief storyteller, whose job is to promote the vision Box is helping its users achieve.
This is not just word play. As a leader, you must
fundamentally believe and inspire your people that
your work is about more than mortgage transactions.
Your employees are part of a story and a journey
toward a big ambition. Maybe it is about revitalizing
your local community, changing lives through homes,
or creating and managing real estate wealth for your
clients. It’s not just about mortgages.
Share the upside
Every employee at a technology company knows that
their compensation is based on three components:
salary, bonus and equity. Of the three, equity by far
dominates most conversations as a tool to attract,
engage and retain employees.
With an equity stake, you are reminding your
employees that they will be part of creating the vision
for the future and that it will take time to reap those
rewards — but this may be more significant than
even their salary. Molly Graham, who helped build
the compensation plan in Facebook’s early days, said
people joining a company are betting on its future,
and an equity stake represents a bet on the company’s
If structured correctly, employees start pocketing
shares or options after their first full year on the job,
and the initial allocation will vest over their first three
to four years. That means those employees are seeing
the value of their ownership increase, and they are
incentivized to stick around to earn even more. Star
performers, for example, can receive bonuses not just
in cash but also in the form of equity as part of the
effort to drive retention.
In 2016, Axia Home Loans took an aggressive stance
Know what’s valued
and became 100 percent owned by its employees via
the creation of an employee stock ownership plan
(ESOP). Gellert Dornay, Axia’s president and CEO, said
at the time that an ESOP rewards employees who are
contributing to the company’s success by allowing
them to share in the increased value they are helping
to create. If your employees don’t own a stake in your
company’s success, you might have to ask yourself
why they should stick around for the long haul and
invest their time in building the company’s value.
Mention the phrase “tech company culture” at a dinner party and most will be quick to mention the free
food; lavish benefits, like massages and haircuts; funky
office designs; and flexible work schedules. But even
as these perks have become the norm in Silicon Valley,
if not cliché, the underlying logic is important: How
do we differentiate ourselves from our competitors to
make the employment decision a yes for us?
FullContact, a data products company with 200-plus
employees, has been recognized more than once by
Outside magazine via the publication’s Best Places
to Work rankings. Located in Denver, the company
has adopted an outdoors ethos and encourages its
employees to work hard and play hard. During ski
season, employees can take a “powder day” as long
as they make up those hours within two weeks.
Employees also choose their computers, a Mac or PC,
and get 100 percent paid health care coverage.
After a year, employees are allowed to work from
anywhere in the world for one month — which many
pair with the company’s “paid vacation” plan — an
annual $7,500 stipend to take a one-week trip of their
choosing. All of this might seem a little big to be true,
but FullContact realized it was in a war for talent,
and they wanted to win.
When adding benefits, a great first step is to consider your employees — how they work, what they
value and what you could uniquely offer them that
another company could never imagine or implement
well. Increasingly in the mortgage industry, technology is playing an important role in attracting and
retaining talent. Enabling your team to work productively and be happier at work means giving them the
tools — technology and otherwise — to stand out.
Technology companies have fought long and hard to
attract the best and brightest employees and know that
an effective talent-recruitment strategy is a powerful
tool for ensuring they come out on top in the struggle
to attract the right people. All mortgage companies
start from a different position with a different set of
resources to allocate. You don’t need to do it all or be
as lavish as the next company. The key is to start now.
The competition for talent is a war and, like any war,
it’s an opportunity to seize the advantage — or to
squander it. ■
“When adding benefits, a great first step is
to consider your employees — how they
work, what they value and what you could
uniquely offer them.”