Join the employee attraction and retention revolution
By George N. Saliba, Contributing Writer on July 8, 2022
Companies struggling to attract and retain employees face fierce competition in a tight labor market in which the ultra-low unemployment rate of 3.6% (3.9% for New Jersey) works in tandem with America’s Great Quit: A record 47.4 million Americans quit their jobs in 2021, and in March 2022, a record 4.4 million Americans voluntarily quit.
As many workers continue to retire and others are sidelined due to pandemic fatigue/concerns, the overall scenario has resulted in more vacancies across the country that there are no candidates. This means that companies on all sides must refine their strategies to attract new workers and retain those they already have.
In that vein, workplace flexibility is a crucial element that employees are looking for today, according to several experts interviewed by New Jersey Business Magazine. This flexibility could not only involve accommodating popular hybrid work-from-home arrangements, but also creating a results-driven workplace where all employees are required to work online during the hours of, say, 10 a.m. at 2:00 p.m., but are otherwise free to perform tasks at any time of the day or night.
Although some forward-thinking organizations turned to workplace flexibility years ago, the pandemic has changed the equation. Based in New Jersey, Ray Rokicki, HR advisor at Mineral – a company that provides HR compliance services to more than 500,000 small and medium-sized businesses in the United States – explains: “Before , working from home was, “Hey, can I get my manager’s approval to work from home today?” I have a device being delivered.’ There was a reason you were working from home. … Today is: ‘I work from home.’
It’s the full sentence. …It’s a really hard sell [today] for [companies] to say, ‘We need you in the office.’ »
Employee autonomy is also popular in work environments, according to experts such as Marcella Schneider, senior human resources consultant at Lindenberger Group, a Titusville-based human resources consulting firm. It describes a process in which employees achieve their goals without micromanaging supervisors, yet managers remain available for advice and guidance.
Employee compensation is another critical element in attracting/retaining workers, with data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicating that private sector compensation rose 4.5% year-over-year in fourth quarter of 2021. Along with this trend, at least some employers are forgoing employee tuition reimbursement after the fact and instead paying employee training fees upfront.
Michael Timmes is a New Jersey-based human resources consultant with Insperity, a company that helps companies with human resources to improve their business success. He explains: “Organizations have to respect their own budgets. You can’t necessarily pay wages [and offer benefits] that’s going to put the organization… in a position where it’s going to shut down in a few years because its expenses and revenues are irrelevant.
He says another “critical” element of employee attraction/retention is the development of a “learning environment” where workers are continually offered opportunities through online training and/or the ability to improve their skills in other ways.
A broader workplace mosaic includes creating company cultures aligned with employee values. Mineral’s Rokicki says, “Anyone who just focuses on [employee compensation] missing much more important elements, namely the culture of the workplace and [workplace] environment. And that’s what people are really aiming for. They want organizations that match their beliefs, that they feel good about going to work for, and that support what the [organizations] say they will.
Insperity’s Timmes offers similar sentiments: “[Organizations should ask]: ‘How do we align with each other’s mission statements?’ … Across all generations, the pandemic has caused people to take a step back – no matter where they are in their careers – and [say]: ‘I don’t have as much time on this earth as I thought. And now I want to spend it doing something that’s really close to my heart.
While much has been written about corporate cultures and how to create workplaces that align with leadership/employee beliefs, Timmes describes corporate culture as a “goal” that reinforces organizational values and ensures, for example, that ethics is defined in a way that everyone understands.
In addition to employee attraction/retention trends, there are specific tactics and techniques for obtaining employees. Schneider of the Lindenberger Group says companies should consider employee referral programs to get new hires and, separately, that employer branding — like responding to comments on employer review site Glassdoor — is “really , really important”.
She also says employers should respond quickly to any online job seeker: “You can’t wait.” Schneider also advises companies to consider how they use online recruitment platforms.
because many of these services may automatically reject applicants with blank resumes, and therefore may not consider many qualified individuals.
“Looking at these [online recruiting] platforms and understanding how metrics are put in – and how people are taken out – is really important,” Schneider points out.
It’s also important to make sure new hires have a smooth onboarding process, she says. “If it’s not working for them, it’s too slow or it’s not clear, [new employees] take that as, “That’s how it’s going to be to work here.” … [The new employees] make decisions such as: “I know I said ‘yes’ to this job, but I have another [job] to offer [that I can consider].’”
Judith Lindenberger, Founder and President of The Lindenberger Group, sheds light on other ways to get employees in today’s market. She says her company used social media site LinkedIn to scout potential candidates who might already have good jobs to ask if they would be interested in changing companies, then explain why it’s “a company and a tremendous opportunity.”
Lidenberger recommends staying in touch with people who have expressed an interest in a company and letting them know when a job opportunity arises.
Companies may also wish to consider a wider range of potential employees. While Insperity’s Timmes says that while in the past companies looked for a candidate to match every aspect of a job description or summary, he explains, “They realized they had to take retreat [from this practice].”
Mineral’s Rokicki has similar sentiments: “I think what you’re going to see, and what I’ve seen, is that a lot of employers are expanding the number of people they’re willing to interview. They begin
really have visibility [regarding] which is truly a transferable skill. In the past, people clung to, ‘Well, [the prospective employee] never had this job title before.
While it can be difficult to attract and retain employees in today’s job market, organizations that know what employees are looking for can have certain advantages.
But, on the whole, the process is not always easy. Mineral’s Rokicki says someone told her they were “shocked” that after 10 days of posting a job posting online, their company had only received two applications. “In the past, a fair number of applicants could be processed to fill the funnel,” Rokicki says.
He concludes, “We’re talking about organizations that really need to figure out how to market themselves and say [to applicants]: ‘Do you want to come and work here?’”
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