A few years ago, when unemployment levels were double what they are today, most businesses could afford to dismiss this question as moot. People hurt by the recession and struggling to find employment wanted to work for anyone. That’s no longer the case.

Labor is a serious challenge for many golf course owners, superintendents and club managers. At most golf-oriented clubs and courses, labor costs range from 52 to 55 percent of the overall operating budget. That alone makes recruiting and retaining capable workers a top priority. Beyond the financial implications, there are the service and reputational significance that make staffing your most important management issue.

You’ve probably heard that in many competitive industries there’s an ongoing “war for talent.” The competition for employees with talent, skills and experience recognizes that the best people usually make the difference between business success and failure. If you’re in a tight labor market, or one with multiple club and course options, instead of asking if people want to work for you, the better question is “Do the right people want to work for you?”

Employer, Prove Thyself

More and more of our clients are telling us that they’re feeling the pressure to be an appealing place to work in order to attract top talent. In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, the head of one of America’s largest employment agencies said many people now view jobs as temporary until their employer proves itself worthy of their time, energy and skills.

Being honest and showing a positive attitude helps employers stand out from the crowd, according to Bob Funk, CEO of Express Employment Professionals. Prospective employees have their own set of criteria. They want to work in a job where they matter, where they feel they can make a difference, and where they will be treated with respect. Interestingly, seldom is compensation the most common attribute that attracts – and keeps – someone.

Countless surveys of what matters most to employees offer multiple options. Boston Consulting Group surveyed more than 200,000 workers to identify the following 10 factors:

  1. Appreciation for your work.
  2. Good relationships with colleagues.
  3. Good work-life balance.
  4. Good relationships with superiors.
  5. Company’s financial stability.
  6. Learning and career development opportunities.
  7. Job security.
  8. Attractive fixed salary.
  9. Interesting job content.
  10. Company values.

Communicate Drug Policies

It is difficult to locate prospective workers who consistently show up for work on time, learn the job and adapt to your culture. There is also the prickly problem of drug testing.

Thorough advance communications with prospective employees is a key. The employer should tell the candidate what the drug testing requirements are and which drugs are being screened. Other tactics for pre-screening include searching for low-income workers through temporary services; engaging faith-based organizations to source employees from their congregations and asking established workers to help identify prospects.

Attracting Millennials Similar But Different

Gallup research found that millennials largely want the same things from their employers as most generations. They look for growth opportunities, great managers, and jobs that are well-suited for their talents and interests.

But there are some differences that employers should consider, including the fact that they’re job hoppers. The Gallup study found that 21 percent of millennial workers left their job in the last year to do something else, a number that is more than three times higher than that of non-millennials who report doing the same.

“At their current stage in life, millennials fundamentally think about their role as a stepping stone and a growth opportunity. But they also want to feel deeply committed to their role and to work for a manager who will invest in their development,” according to the survey’s authors.

Although income is not among millennials’ top five factors when applying for jobs, it still matters to them. Their particular interest in compensation is no doubt related to high levels of student debt and low wage growth during their early career years.

Henry DeLozier is a principal in the Global Golf Advisors consultancy. DeLozier joined Global Golf Advisors in 2008 after nine years as the vice president of golf for Pulte Homes. He is a past president of the National Golf Course Owners Association’s board of directors and serves on the PGA of America’s Employers Advisory Council.