At Vested, we’re fortunate to have some of the best in the businesses of public relations, marketing and finance. This is no accident. Hiring smart, dedicated and hardworking team players has been part of our mission since day one. When CEO Dan Simon, COO Ishviene Arora, and I first began putting the Vested wheels in motion, understanding — and attracting and retaining — the current potential (and Millennial) applicant pool was at the forefront of the discussion.
The evolution of talent
Decades ago, making a career for yourself meant applicants finding a decent-paying job at a well-known company and putting in the time to climb the corporate ladder. Oh, how things have changed.
Call it the Zuckerberg effect, or the Uber-ification of the labor economy, or whatever cutesy name you like, but today’s workforce—also known as Millennials, (shocker, we know)—find the idea of entrepreneurialism greatly appealing. One could interpret that in a few different ways. After all, finding the idea of entrepreneurialism appealing and finding entrepreneurialism itself appealing are two different things.
Those who find the idea of entrepreneurialism appealing are drawn to things like relaxed dress codes, unlimited vacation, abundant snacks, or a “fun” culture. As we say in our Manivesto, there’s nothing wrong with that. But entrepreneurialism is not hoodies and M&Ms; it’s a sickness, a deep-seated commitment to quality, a hunger for more than just a “job.”
It’s no secret Millennials get a bad rap when it comes to work. While they’ve been deemed lazy, noncommittal and entitled, we feel quite the opposite. For the best of these young applicants, who also account for the largest part of the labor force, there’s a desire to create something from the ground up, to build a legacy and watch it flourish. In many ways, it’s personal. Work becomes part of one’s identity. So if it’s a part of them…
Why not let them own it?
Literally. At Vested, every full-time employee is a dividend-yielding shareholder. Thus, as the business grows thanks to the employees’ efforts, they see the real and tangible payoff. Similarly, we give our employees full transparency into our success. We do this through a variety of initiatives, such as quarterly financial performance reports from our CFO — including how the business’ performance maps back to things like bonuses and profit sharing. Yup — we offer profit sharing, and also have a defined equation to determine employee bonuses. And we align employee and business success in even more ways, such as offering commissions on all business sold and on referring great new talent that further helps the firm grow.
However, we also know how exhausting “owning it” can be. In a client-driven and around-the-clock industry, burning out is a reality we ourselves face. We know that the commitment we ask of our “Vesties” can at times be overwhelming. That’s why we have a no-questions-asked, work-from-wherever-you-need-to policy (which we’ll aim to rename). And we offer employees unlimited vacation, sick and mental health days — which we still track for the sole purpose of encouraging those who haven’t taken PTO to get offline and relax. And one of my personal favorites: We offer a paid three-month sabbatical to each full-time Vestie every four years.
Trusting Millennial talent
Dan, Ishviene and I are not absentee owners. We’re deeply passionate about our work and want to be involved. We also know we can’t scale unless we surround ourselves with like-minded and capable young talent. Giving up our own equity so they can literally own part of our success is a tangible way to show our employees we trust them. It’s why the firm is called “Vested” and not “[Last Name] Communications.”
In our business, trust between employer and employee is the key to long-term success. Consider briefly the devolution of the corporate dress code. After places like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan did away with their dress codes, there was a feeling of fear that employees may take it too far: showing up in their pajamas or bathing suit. Let’s face it: we’re all adults here, and people deserve to be treated as such. Dictating their outfits, or not allowing them the flexibility to take care of themselves, does nothing but undermine employee loyalty. My favorite corporate dress code? General Motors’. If we can’t trust people to dress appropriately, how can we trust them to do anything?
This notion of trust has been the driving force behind our philosophy as a business, and it’s paying off. Our staff is made up, largely, of Millennials (78 percent, last time we polled), while 19 percent are Gen Xer and four percent consider themselves Gen Z. But 100 percent of our employees indicated that they’re given a lot of responsibility, and another 100 percent said they’re proud to tell others they work here. As of July 2018, we had just a four percent voluntary employee turnover rate.
At the end of the day, these numbers do so much more than just check boxes. They give us, as management, the drive we need to continue to make Vested a place for young people to succeed.