As vaccination rates and falling COVID-19 case counts enable a “return to normal” in the U.S., HR pros across all industries are re-evaluating their traditional recruitment strategies. Job openings may have inched up to a record high of 9.2 million in May, but hiring remains sluggish.
While employees are presented with more open roles than before, they’re also mindfully seeking change: a March 2021 survey from Prudential Financial found that as many as 1 in 4 workers planned to look for a new job when the pandemic ended. Workers found renewed clarity around what they want and need most during the pandemic — raising the stakes for employers and their HR teams.
Anxiety around workforce staffing is palpable. In our latest Pulse Survey of 334 HR pros, 80% said they’re worried about retaining employees in 2021; 76% said they’re worried about hiring top talent. So we asked: What can companies do to appeal better to top talent in 2021?
From retail to education, we asked industry leaders which fundamental shifts in recruiting are helping them hire and retain talent in a newly competitive landscape. Check out their responses below.
Retention Plays a Role, Too
Happy people don’t leave good jobs. If top talent is leaving the company, they are likely unhappy, under-appreciated, or both. And these feelings were likely here long before COVID. Companies concerned with a staff mass exodus should take a long and critical look at their culture, compensation, and benefits for clues regarding employee satisfaction and longevity. Because for many, life is too short to work in a toxic environment or for insufficient pay and benefits.
Offer clear trajectories for career growth. Of Glassdoor.com’s Top 10 Reasons for Employee Resignations (Source), “lack of career growth” ranked #7. Gone are the days of the “lifer” employee; the average employee now spends 2-3 years in a role before moving on, often to a more senior role elsewhere. Blame younger generations’ lack of loyalty if you must, but the truth is: companies no longer offer the same protections, promotions, and incentives to their legacy employees that they once did. Leaders who truly value long-term employee commitments should incentivize, rather than punish, employee loyalty.
Rethink what a workweek looks like. In addition to bumping the minimum wage up, there are increasing calls to reduce the workweek from five days to four and the workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours. If anything, the biggest post-COVID change in employee mindset is a reprioritization of work/life balance. Remote work, gig work and freelancing have all changed the landscape for employees who no longer want to work in an office 40+ hours per week.
Many companies fail to draw in and retain top talent because they don’t treat high performers how they expect to be treated. These people want flexibility, time off, and benefits that make their families’ lives more comfortable. Attracting top talent, therefore, requires firms to turn a critical eye on their benefits and career development packages, especially during exit interviews, and commit to improving any shortcomings.
To improve employee retention, companies need to implement new business standards. Even if a company doesn’t agree with a switch to remote or hybrid work, there are tons out there that do. For that reason, if, as a company, you’re not offering your employees to have some sort of hybrid schedule, there’s definitely a chance that they will seek out an employer that does.
The best way for companies to attract and retain talent in 2021 is to offer flexible working options. Employees have already made it clear that a full-time return to the office could be what sends them off in search of a new job. Candidates have multiple options available, and those companies with flexible work policies will be at the top of their lists. Offering hybrid work schedules, allowing for flexibility in working hours, and ensuring that remote work is an option as well are all ways to make your company more attractive to candidates.
Insight: Employees like their benefits, but crave more flexibility and support.
Employers looking to expand on employee benefits should consider popular benefits that can help workers achieve a better work-life balance. When asked to choose three benefits they would find most valuable, our Employee Benefits Insights Survey revealed employees wanted:
- The ability to work from anywhere (57%)
- Unlimited PTO (52%)
- Full tuition reimbursement for professional development (48%)
Be Open to Change
Our previous experience as a fully remote company has kept us afloat while other companies struggled. The stress that other companies seem to have around the hiring process has not rung true for our company. I believe this is largely due to the fact that we have been a fully remote company since 2015. Because of our experience working remotely the pandemic was not as disruptive as it was for many employers. We haven’t seen a downturn in employee retention and I expect this will remain the same in the coming year.
Highlight your company’s remote work perks. Coming out of the pandemic many employees are seeking new demands when it comes to remote work. Many employees will no longer settle for traditional office hours. If your company wants to appeal to top talent make sure that you offer hybrid and remote work environments that appeal to a wide range of applicants.
In order to attract the best talent, a company should establish an excellent company culture that reflects on their workers, management, and different processes. It should create an environment where people would want to work, starting with building good relationships with their current and potential employees.
The company should also make sure that their values are consistently upheld and aligned with their employees’ goals, which would then translate in their work ethic and feedback on the management. The company can appeal better to top talents just by their reputation itself as word of mouth spreads fast. Sooner or later good candidates would seek to apply for a position in the company, especially when they learn that it puts a premium on their workers, gives them room to grow, and allows for a sense of fulfillment.
I found that reaching out beyond the usual hiring pool has helped us source great employees and freelancers. Our brand is international with HQ in California. We always wanted to hire local, but due to the difficulties in finding suitable candidates, we cast our net further, globally.
I have been using LinkedIn a lot to find these candidates. Traditionally we depended on placed ads on online sites with our job description. Now with LinkedIn, I can enter in some keywords and scroll through many a profile that is suitable for our needs. LinkedIn members actively seeking employment have badges stating Looking For Work. I still reach out to others too, and if they are not available they are able to recommend me to someone who is.
I found very serious professionals on this platform who have helped keep our company in a competitive situation throughout the pandemic. … Hiring managers need to think outside of the box now, and by box I mean borders.
How to Accelerate Recruiting and Retention with Delightful Benefits
While it’s harder than ever to hire and retain top talent, HealthJoy’s research has uncovered a valuable recruitment and retention tool companies overlook: Employee benefits. Learn more from expert panelists in our upcoming webinar.
Insight: Recruiting talent means looking further afield.
Our Employee Benefits Insights Survey found that across all age groups, 57% of respondents want the ability to work from anywhere. That result isn’t shocking, given how remote work has always been popular. However, what started as a perk evolved into the norm for most businesses during a worldwide health crisis. By removing the geographic boundaries that limit talent recruitment, remote jobs result in over 20% more geographical diversity among applicants.
As an employer, that means you open yourself up to a broader and more diverse talent pool, and an opportunity to build a more inclusive workforce.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Employees What They Want
Your employee value proposition (EVP) plays a huge role in attracting the top talents. Understanding what your employees need will help you create a more appealing EVP. You can do this by sending out surveys to your regular employees to keep track of the change you need to make and adapt to the requirements of the EVP your company needs. This can be flexible working hours, more incentives such as employee discounts or facilities, bonus schemes, or other necessities that would be appealing to your potential employees.
There are several ways employers can address current recruiting and hiring challenges and better appeal to top talent during the post-pandemic “Great Resignation.”
Promote transparency in compensation and benefits (beyond the traditional ones such as healthcare or PTO) in the hiring process and throughout the company to attract and retain top talent. Our recent data report on wage inequality in the workplace found that 65% of tech workers discovered they had been paid less for the same role and as a result, nearly 40% started looking for a new job. In order to attract and retain talent in a competitive hiring market, it is critical to have open dialogues about role compensation on an ongoing basis and offer benefits that are important and relevant for today’s remote or hybrid workforce.
Promote DEI initiatives and develop an inclusive workplace and culture. For example, partnering with DEI-focused organizations to host events such as coding challenges, panel discussions, and resume-building workshops is a great way to attract a larger and diverse pool of talent. We found that for over 83% of tech workers, it is important that their employer takes meaningful steps to promote diversity and inclusion.
Offer professional growth opportunities as people are looking to be challenged at work. When we asked tech workers about what attracted them to a career in software engineering in our recent data report, 83% cited “new challenges and continuous learning.” Not providing meaningful opportunities for growth can not only deter potential candidates but also lead to employee turnover. It is critical to invest in your employees’ growth and provide ongoing opportunities for them to upskill and progress in their roles.
The best way to attract top talent in 2021 is to ask them what they need rather than assuming that all they want is more money. I frequently hear that while money is obviously a key concern, most people are concerned about getting COVID at work, the difficulty of finding childcare, affordable housing challenges, mental health support, and more. Simply put, people have broader needs than just money.
As a result, the best way for employers to attract top talent in 2021 is to be more empathetic and ask their (prospective) employees what they need.
A New World of Recruiting
If HR teams are struggling to find encouragement within this new world of work, they could look to our contributors for some inspiration. They’re showing it’s possible to challenge traditional business models and take a more holistic approach to recruitment and retention — no matter the industry.
By listening to workers, leveraging remote hiring, and focusing on culture, they’ve identified where they or other employers have fallen short, and the necessary steps companies can take to show job seekers the willingness to pivot and prioritize employees’ needs in a post-pandemic climate.