HR departments are facing yet another unprecedented challenge caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – finding and hiring good employees. Employees are leaving their jobs in record numbers. The Labor Department recently reported nearly 4.3 million workers voluntarily left their jobs in August. This mass exodus was on the heels of the four million who left their jobs in July. August’s numbers are by far the highest in the two decades the government has tracked employees’ voluntary departures. Simultaneously, as the economy recovers post-pandemic and companies seek to resume normal business operations, employees are in great demand. What does this mean for employees and employers? Employees now have far more leverage than they once had, demanding enhanced benefit offerings, better hiring incentives, higher pay and more flexible working arrangements. Employers must seek and consider ways for retaining and attracting top talent as never before. The answer isn’t “one size fits all” since employees’ wants can vary significantly across industries.
Also, individuals’ needs, priorities and desires are very different from what they were before the pandemic, and the “tried and true” recruiting techniques of the past are somewhat outdated and may not be as effective. Companies that understand the new recruiting landscape and are willing to consider new approaches will be the first to reach their desired audience and candidate pools and get the talent they want. Here are some talent acquisition strategies that will make your company stand out from the rest and boost your chances of getting the right talent to say, “yes.”
Reassess Your Benefit Offerings
What do employees in a post-Covid world really want and need in their lives, and how can your company satisfy those wants and needs? At the top of every list of desirable benefits are programs that support mental health and work-life balance.
According to the January 2021 12th Annual Employer-Sponsored Health and Well-Being Survey sponsored by Fidelity Investments, enhanced work-life balance and mental health benefits are very much on the rise. Of the 166 large and midsize U.S. national and multinational companies surveyed, the following was reported:
- Mental health and emotional well-being. A staggering 92% of respondents expanded their support for programs that addressed mental health issues like stress management, resiliency and mental health benefits for dependent children.
- Work/life balance. 74% of respondents increased work/life benefits, many in the form of increased and enhanced leave programs.
- Financial well-being. 83% have or will provide programs in support of budgeting, debt management and emergency savings funds.
- Caregiving. 64% enhanced child care support with 48% providing backup child care support.
Of course, these enhanced work/life and mental health benefits have a price. The larger companies in the survey reported increasing their total budget for these programs from an average of $4.9 million in 2020 to an average of $6 million in 2021. Average spending per employee increased to $238 in 2021, slightly higher than the $230 per employee in 2020. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) influenced well-being strategy of 80% of survey respondents. 49% stated they audit employee benefits and well-being initiatives to assess their inclusivity. Some surveyed moved to hold vendors and suppliers accountable for supporting DE&I with 39% creating DE&I standards for vendors and suppliers.
While the Fidelity Investments survey focused on employee mental health and well-being among larger businesses, the same trends have been seen with smaller businesses. Paychex, a HR services and payroll firm, conducted a survey at the conclusion of 2020 among 250 principals (CEOs and owners) and 250 employees at U.S. companies with between two and 99 employees. Of note is the large percentage of employees surveyed, 60%, who stated mental health benefit offerings will factor into their selection of their next job. This survey specifically asked employees which benefits they found “very helpful” with the following making the top of the lists: flexible schedule, health maintenance programs and referral programs for mental health or substance abuse issues.
While these and other surveys are certainly helpful and serve as a springboard for any discussion about new or enhanced benefit offerings, your employees are your most helpful resource. Simply ask your employees if they use and value your current benefits and in what way the offerings can be better. You may find that employees don’t value an existing, expensive benefit that can be replaced with another for the same cost. Once you are confident your benefits are appealing and competitive in the marketplace, highlight your benefit package throughout your website, careers page, social media and other marketing platforms.
Tell Your Story
Now that you offer a comprehensive, valued benefit package, let potential employees know about those benefits and why employees like working for you. Who better to relay that message than your existing employees. Video testimonials are an effective and powerful way to communicate to the outside world why your company is a great place to work. For every sad and tragic story about the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an uplifting and meaningful story to be told. Potential employees want to hear from current employees how you supported them during this trying time by providing timely remote work resources, more frequent Zoom “check-ins” between supervisors and employees, direct access to mental health programs for employees and their dependents and caregiver resources including on-site child care assistance.
“Pandemic” stories are just one testimonial source. A story about an employee’s experience working for her favorite charity on your annual paid “volunteer day” speaks volumes about your culture and mission. Another employee’s story about relying on the company’s generous family leave policy when adopting his first child is both heartwarming and assuring to potential new hires that the company supports employees during major life changes and/or challenges. Something as basic as an employee’s recounting of her first day on the job with your company and how welcome she felt throughout the new hire orientation and lunch with coworkers shows you value and care about employees on day one. Potential employees seeking stability and opportunities for career advancement will be interested in a video about a “lifer” who has worked her way up through the ranks, using the company’s career development and mentoring program and tuition reimbursement for an advanced degree. Employees need only be prompted for the video testimonials with no script, as the message should be natural and from the heart. You do not need to hire an expensive marketing or video production firm to produce your videos. Production and posting to your website can be achieved with a good software program and smartphone. Post these videos throughout your career site to maximize SEO traffic.
Keep Talent Pipeline Engaged
Now that you’ve done the hard work of positioning your company to gain good talent’s attention and a highly qualified candidate has applied for an open position, what if it’s not a good fit? It would be a waste of resources not to keep this good talent in the pipeline and interested in your company. There are numerous reasons why a great candidate may not be hired for an open position. Timing has to work for both the company and the candidate. The candidate may not be available to work right away, and the position needs to be filled asap. The candidate may need to work immediately, and the incumbent is still in the position for another month. There may be another candidate who is a slightly better fit. In all these cases it would be a mistake to send the candidate on his way. Keep that candidate in the pipeline until the timing is right for another position or until the candidate and position are a perfect fit. Don’t just tell the candidate you’ll be in touch when another position opens up. Keep him engaged and interested in your company, or you will lose him to a competitor.
Since you’ve already invested time and money into finding this candidate, it will be cheap to hire him for the next great match. Task your marketing team with creating content designed to keep your brand in the front of your candidates’ minds. Recruiting newsletters highlighting open positions, corporate news and events, corporate social/civic activity and employee testimonials work well. Task your recruiting team with sending automatic emails and text alerts for new job postings. Show these great candidates you value them and want to find the perfect fit for them with your company whether it is in a week, a month or six months down the road.
Get Smart HR
Smart HR has been a trusted resource for all its clients during the COVID-19 pandemic staying abreast of the latest HR trends and how HR has pivoted many times over the course of the pandemic as new issues, many unprecedented, emerge. If you have lingering HR questions or concerns about how your business has dealt with your most valued resource, your employees, during the pandemic and want to position your company for success going forward, get Smart HR and call today.