How will you attract the front line employees you need to prosper and thrive this year?

There are a few exemplary organizations showing the way. What they share in common, besides their legendary success, is that they know how to attract, select and retain the best. They are magnetic.

And it’s not because they pay top dollar. They know that a paycheck is not what motivates most employees, and the Journal of Business Strategy concurs. Researchers reported that employees rank salary and benefits as 13th and 16th on the list of things they value most when looking for a job.

No, it doesn’t take top dollar wages to become magnetic, but you do need to become known as an “employer of choice” among your target group of applicants.

To pinpoint ideal candidates, ask yourself what kinds of people work for you now, and which are the best? Why are they the best? Why do they work for you, and what do they want from their jobs? Who is your competition for employees? What does your competition offer that you don’t?

Once you’ve identified a target group of candidates, you can tailor your recruiting message to appeal to them and broadcast it where they’re most likely to see it. You have to tell people why they want to work for you.

You also have to make it easy for job seekers to apply. When you limit the hours you accept applications or require people to jump through complicated hoops, you’re making it difficult for the best people – those who are already working or in school – to apply.

The next step in becoming an employer of choice is to develop a hiring system. Ask yourself what kind of system are we using now and why are we doing it this particular way? How do we identify the best candidates? Are we testing for the skills and attitudes needed to be successful on the job? How many interviews does each applicant have, and what questions do we ask? How do we get references?

Every employee-selection system should include online, pre-employment attitude testing, because testing promotes fairness and raises the quality of new hires across the board. As compared to reference checks, previous experience, interviewing or academic achievement, testing is the best predictor of success on the job.

With the right hiring system, being an employer of choice is easy because – let’s face it – recruiting is about image, but employee retention is about reality. One of the ways magnetic companies keep turnover to a minimum is by making their jobs hard to get. People want whatever it is they think is hard to come by. When the job is hard to get, only the best people make the cut.

Finally, people who work for magnetic companies are having fun. A good example of workplace fun is Southwest Airlines. Job applicants and customers alike flock to them because they’re perceived as being fun.

What could you do to make work fun? If your employees were having fun, would you attract more customers?