Attracting & Retaining The Well-Rounded Employee

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Hiring the wrong employee is one of the most expensive mistakes that an employer can make.

Still, many fail to identify, recruit, and hire top talent on a regular basis. In order to reverse this trend, employers must reconsider the standards that they use to measure potential employees. Rather than hiring candidates with narrow skill sets which appear impressive on paper, employers must search for the well-rounded candidate who can adapt to the demands of the workplace. Dr. John Sullivan of ERE refers to this type of candidate as the “360-degree individual” (

What does this well-rounded employee look like, and how can organizations capitalize on such talent? By using a few basic steps, employers can begin to search the talent pool more carefully whilst avoiding the common, costly mistake of a bad hire:

In order to make more efficient hiring decisions, employers must first identify the qualities of a well-rounded employee. According to Dr. John Sullivan, such qualities include the willingness to take on a wide variety of tasks, the ability to learn quickly, a tendency to observe, relationship building, a fondness for teamwork, and the ability to lead and then stand down ( When searching for a well-rounded employee, recruiters and employers must consider these all-encompassing qualities while recognizing the underlying factor of flexibility. In essence, the well-rounded employee is flexible enough to adapt and thrive in various scenarios while learning and bringing others up around them.

In the business world, the term “purple squirrel” refers to the candidate that simply cannot be found. The presence of too many requirements will significantly diminish the candidate pool until only a “purple squirrel” remains. For this reason, employers might prioritize potential over raw talent. As Marcel Schwantes from Inc. stated, “…[F]ind potential that you can develop and groom for succession. Identify talent with the capacity to adapt to new challenges and grow into new roles when the company takes unexpected turns”. While an employee with potential has no limits, an employee with a highly specific particular skill set might be limited.


Finding the right candidate does no good if you cannot keep them engaged in their work. Many professionals ask themselves daily what is it that top talent really needs to stay interested, motivated, and productive? According to an infographic by, there are four particular areas in which employers can improve workers’ engagement: provide better management, more feedback, more transparency, and a sense of purpose. While these items might seem insignificant at first glance, the statistics behind them are astounding. For example, according to the infographic, half of all employees have quit a job due to poor management ( In order to keep top talent interested, employers must maintain a competitive edge in the areas that matter most to them. Without doing so, even a wonderful employee can become a useless hire.

How are you hiring and retaining well-rounded employees today?

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