How to Build an Organization That Attracts and Retains Talent


By John Muscarella

Vice President Channel Sales, Cox Business

Regardless of size, all organizations are struggling with the best strategies to bring on new talent, especially while “The Great Resignation” continues to challenge growth and retention. I recently sat down with Kia Painter, EVP and chief people officer at Cox Communications, for our Partner Empowerment Podcast, and I want to share some of what came out of our conversation.

Even if you’re an SMB that may not be able to compete on salary or benefits, you can still connect with the talent community in an impactful way. It’s one thing to sell a product, but it’s another thing to believe in the company and its purpose in the industry or the overall world that we work in. Understanding and investing in your company’s objectives and goals is important, but aligning with your cultural philosophy and beliefs and the importance of what you do for your customers is critical as well. Creating clarity around that and amplifying it out to the market is a unique way to find and attract great people outside of just the financial incentives.

“Someone wakes up every day and chooses to spend time away from their family to be a part of your organization to help you grow your business. If you are going to inspire employees to feel good about taking that charge for you and your company, then it’s important that they work in an environment where they feel safe, where people see them as a person and not just an employee ID number, and where there is some growth potential. Even if they’re not growing in a job because it is a small organization, team members can continue to grow as a person or grow their interests,” says Kia.

Organizations are finding ways to be flexible with how people work, which is really helping restore some of the connectivity in their culture post-pandemic. They are creating a space where people can come not only to work but also be able to tap into some of the livelihoods or passions that they have outside of work. There is an increased mix of creative flexibility, making sure you can tap into talent to drive your business while also letting them create meaning in their lives by enabling them to bring to fruition some of the other things that are important to them.

Other ways we discussed building a strong culture that attracts and retains talent include:

Leaders: Walk the Walk

Number one is influence over culture. People behave according to what they see, and as a leader, you are constantly modeling that. No matter the size of the company, if you have taken on the responsibility of leading people or given someone else that responsibility, you want to make sure they are getting development on how to effectively lead people, how to create the conditions where people can be motivated, and how to coach and mentor. Those are some of the ways you can really inspire loyalty, and those things don’t cost a lot. It’s really about respect, integrity, and care for other people. 

For Hybrid Workspaces, Make the Effort

Geographically diverse organizations require an additional level of effort to keep a strong culture. It’s easy to log on, turn your camera on, and get down to business. It takes discipline to foster a fun, caring, and supportive environment. For example, at Cox, teams get together a couple of times a year in person, and when they do, they pack in a lot of social connection. They spend about 20 percent on hardcore business topics and the rest of the time getting to know each other as people. For virtual meetings, some teams spend a little time at the beginning of every weekly meeting connecting with each other around a specific topic. One team starts with everybody talking about a great thing that happened to them last week. Another team starts with “Hey, what’s going on in your family?” because family is so important to their culture.

And back to leadership walking the walk, if that leader models this and leads with that discipline, you create a cascade that not only supports a great culture internally but will also let your customers benefit from that kind of spirit and care.

Kia explained, “When you think about wanting to create a strong, unique customer experience, consider how your culture translates outside of your ‘walls.’ Businesses have ebbs and flows. Sometimes you may have a great quarter and sometimes you could be in a tricky business cycle, but because you’ve made the investment in care and nurturing, you come out of those tougher cycles faster and can do it with an eye on the future because everyone on the team is in it to win it with you. That is why culture is so important. You need those behaviors, not just in the good times of growth for your business, but also when you need people to flex and be adaptable because things are tricky in, for example, the current economic environment. You lean on your culture to pull you through because that’s the heart and soul of your people.

To hear our full conversation, go to


John Muscarella — As Vice President Channel Sales at Cox Business, John is responsible for the overall readiness strategy for the indirect business sales channels. His team has the primary responsibility to develop, implement ­and sell solutions using the Cox Communications network throughout the country. John has more than 25 years of experience in business management, which includes sales and leadership positions with companies such as Polycom, Sprint and EDS.