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Strengthening your business’ hiring strategy for recruiting and retaining quality candidates. Learn how you can emerge as the employer of choice.
We’ve all experienced “the silent treatment” before, right? It can be frustrating when your communication falls flat, and you don’t understand why you aren’t getting a response. Now more than ever, businesses from coast to coast are experiencing a silent workforce – open job listings that once took a day or two to fill, now sit, month after month, on numerous job boards collecting dust and leaving gaping holes in businesses. Our HR Director weighs in on what it takes when recruiting and retaining quality candidates.
During a live webinar our team hosted recently, we conducted a poll asking attendees to identify their current pain points in the hiring process. Nearly 50% of our responders reported difficulty in finding quality candidates. Another 23% reported struggling to retain new hires once they got them in the door. Yet at the same time, we’re seeing a record number of people without work.
So, where’s the disconnect?
Kely Blackburn, the Human Resources Business Consultant at Morris & Garritano, weighed in and offers her expert insight on the struggles employers are feeling in the present hiring market. “Recruiting and retention is a two-way street,” she says. “Employers and candidates need to meet each other in the middle. They are equally responsible for creating a sustainable work relationship.”
It sounds simple, but in today’s world, that’s easier said than done. In light of the present climate, we’re seeing a shift in workforce culture. People are looking for more than just a paycheck.
“Priorities have shifted, sensitivities are high, and candidates are asking tough questions of employers,” Kely says. “The practices of yesterday are outdated for the market of today.” Times have changed, people are expecting more, and we have to do better.
So how do we tackle this? Step one: Take a deep dive into the job description. We posed a second question to our webinar attendees asking them when they last updated company job descriptions. 23% of responders replied they had updated their job descriptions in the past month. 19% reported making revisions in the last six months while a staggering 50% admitted it had been a year or more.
If you’re part of that majority and guilty of posting outdated job descriptions, it’s ok but it’s time for an update. HR professionals recommend reviewing job descriptions at least once a year, and considering the year we’ve had, it might be time for a total overhaul.
Remember, business practices change over time and that includes the duties in your job descriptions. Rather than hiring to replace the person who left, take a deeper dive into the role itself and what skills are necessary to build the role into a position of success. Focus on the skills that we need to build the workforce of the future, not just replace the workforce we had.
When hiring for your company, your recruitment efforts should be proactive and collaborative. Kely recommends pulling input from your “boots on the ground” team to gain valuable insight. The goal of a job description is to define the role. Teams have a better understanding of the job as it evolves daily. They know what is needed to get the job done. So, when you find yourself stuck in the weeds, ask for help from the team of people around you.
Now, if you find the role in your business has not changed much, we’re certain that plenty else has. Take a step back and look at the reality of your workplace and ask yourself: What’s going well and what’s not? How has the environment changed in the office? Are the same tasks still required of everyone or have positions expanded and flexed? How has the current climate affected the expectations of the position you’re hiring for? These questions are examples of what candidates are asking of potential employers. Be ready to answer them honestly. As the saying goes, “honesty is the best policy.” Let your applicants know.
In addition to writing clear expectations of the role in your job description, Kely reminds us that it’s essential to be honest and transparent with your candidates about the realities of the workplace. Be forthcoming about where your company is and what a new hire can expect to experience. If demands of the job have increased, make that clear. If the company consolidated and there are fewer hands sharing more work, let that be known.
Don’t let your job description present a false reality of your company. Businesses need to take a direct and honest approach. Not knowing what to accurately expect from a new job can leave a candidate feeling blindsided and overwhelmed. Be upfront and honest. That is the first step in building trust with your employees.
Tell a story. Keep in mind you are hiring a person, not a position. Given the difficulties faced in these recent months, employ a humanizing approach that appeals to the present needs and sensitivities of the workforce. Ask your current employees if they have success stories and use those to paint the unique picture of your company for candidates. Elaborate on what your company has overcome during these challenges and the positive outcomes that have been experienced. Turn a negative into a positive!
In opening communication with your employees, ask what they like about working with your company and what keeps them there. Is it a positive team culture? Inclusivity? Flexible working environment? Find what’s working already for your retainment and decide how to leverage that.
When you identify your strengths as an employer and inject that into your job description, you can market your most positive aspects as a company and set yourself apart from other employers.
When drafting your job listing, set realistic expectations regarding skillset, experience, education, and wages. Compare what other successful companies are requiring and offering for similar roles within their businesses. Consider possibilities to offer in-role training and education on company-specific systems and programs. Offering investment in the candidate can increase application rates and attract a wider net of quality candidates.
In reviewing new applicants, Kely recommends considering the candidate’s durable and lasting skills. Durable skills are those abilities that can be tangible and measurable such as project management, effective communication, and proven leadership. See what each candidate brings that can have enduring value in the company and add to the overall strength of the position. “Rather than looking for a checklist of items to fit the image of the ‘ideal’ candidate,” Kely says, “consider the broader, more durable skills that require less training and bring valuable experience.”
The first 30-90 days of a candidate’s employment is often referred to as the “honeymoon” period. During this time, both employees and employers are seen to be on their best behavior and striving to make the best impression.
What often happens after this early period is a relaxation of efforts: the extra support starts to fade, positive reinforcement lapses, and employee satisfaction turns downward. Then, retention becomes an issue. Improve the satisfaction of your work environment by maintaining best practices beyond the early “honeymoon” period of employment.
For a deep dive in best retention practices, Kely recommends the book Love ‘Em or “Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay by Beverly L. Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. This book focuses on the ABCs of retention by providing actionable checklists for employers and offering great tools and resources.
Another strong point emphasized in maintaining retention is the importance of fostering an open channel of communication for employees. This is particularly important in times of social disruption and economic turbulence. Be ready to listen and offer support to assure employees you’re going through it with them. Avoid feeling threatened by any criticism you may receive in this open channel. Use all feedback as an opportunity to grow and better your workplace. In doing so, you’ll likely see retention rates rise.
Finally, Kely recommends strengthening your compensation package to increase recruiting and retention rates — but not necessarily by increasing wages. Of course, you’ll want to remain competitive in the marketplace but there are other ways to offer benefits to employees aside from increased rates of pay.
“Small acts with big impacts,” is what Kely calls it. Finding creative solutions aside from increasing wages can go a long way in attracting higher-quality candidates and increasing overall satisfaction in your workplace.
Consider applying the following to your employee compensation offerings:
If you’re an employer struggling to recruit and retain employees, you’re in the right place and you’re certainly not alone.
Improving your hiring strategies starts right here and it starts with “why.” Why does your company do what it does? Why do you do what you do? And why should candidates want to work alongside that? Answering the “why” paves the way for everything your company and employees do.
Yes, You Can Innovate: Discover Your Innovation Strengths and Develop Your Creative Potential is another resource Kely recommends to employers looking to find their “why” and take the first step to improve their hiring strategies. Author Natalie Turner is quoted saying, “Purpose acts as an anchor in the innovation journey, a place where we can think through what we are doing and why.”
Consider your purpose, open those communication channels, find what sets your business apart, and inject that into your job description. Find candidates with durable skills and speak to them with transparency. Show candidates why you’re a great opportunity for them and emerge as the employer of choice!
For more on this topic, Kely is available to M&G clients to address any questions or concerns specific to your business. You can view the recording of our Recruitment & Retention webinar here. Follow M&G on LinkedIn for more insightful articles and webinars from our team of experts.
Jordan-Evans, B.L. (2014). Love ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay.
Turner, N. (2018). Yes, You Can Innovate: Discover Your Innovation Strengths and Develop Your Creative Potential.