We’ve experienced devastating loss of life and livelihoods due to COVID-19, but thankfully there seems to be a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel. The economy is beginning to thrive again, and that means more companies are hiring and focused on retaining top talent. This should be good news to you—and also encourage you to think more deeply about your hiring strategy. Is it timely or out of date?
If you want to attract top talent you’ve got to pay attention to three things:
- What that top talent is looking for
- The trends and new best practices for hiring
- How to design a hiring plan that will produce optimum results
OUR NEW REALITY
A rebounding economy means that there is a war for attracting talent. Maybe your small business did what it had to do in 2020. That could have meant getting things done with fewer employees who shouldered more of the workload. But now that your business has picked up, you’re on the hunt for new employees.
Guess what? So are your competitors.
And not just for new employees: Recruiters are hounding your best employees.
That’s why we believe that great hiring strategies begin with great retention efforts.
Have your employees enjoyed working from home? It’s not for everyone. But the truth is, many people do thrive working remotely. It’s meant more time to concentrate on their work (versus interruptions by co-workers stopping by desks and cubicles). It’s also allowed your employees to really hone their work/life balance. (Ask a parent with little kids how great it is to be able to do a load of laundry at 10 AM versus waiting until after dinner to start washing clothes.)
So, are you telling your employees they all need to return to the office and deal with the commute again? That might be a no-go for some of your best talent. So really consider if you want employees who have been thriving working at home to give up that autonomy.
We’re advising our small business clients to have a more flexible approach to work: for example, encouraging team members to work in the office one or two days a week so everyone benefits from the “face-time”, while also retaining the benefits of working from home.
WHAT MOTIVATES PEOPLE TO LOOK FOR OTHER JOBS RIGHT NOW?
Contrary to popular opinion, money isn’t the primary driver for an employee making a job change. But it does get their attention. And that’s what recruiters are using to get the attention of prospective employees.
Recruiters all over the country are asking their clients: “Can this job you’re trying to fill be remote?” That’s because working remotely is very attractive to many people right now, including your top employees and likely the top talent you’re trying to hire.
FLEXIBILITY IS THE NEW CARROT TO DANGLE PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES
Beyond remote and your ability to offer that, start thinking bigger about flexibility and how you might be able to offer that if remote is not possible, or not possible full-time. Make sure you’re checking in with your employees regularly to identify how satisfied they are with their jobs. And really lean into cultivating a flexible work environment. When your employees feel like they have autonomy in how they structure their work day, they’ll be less likely to take that recruiter’s call.
LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR HIRING STRATEGY
When we advise clients on their hiring strategy, we always ask: What does the best result look like?
That seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often owners and leaders feel the need to react instead of being more intentional about their hiring strategies.
That’s why we advise clients to refer to their business plans. Are they up-to-date? What are the documented needs of the business? If you’re a business owner or leader, you got to where you got to because you’re smart, talented, and know how to hustle. If your grand vision is “in your head” but not on paper, you’re going to run into hiring problems later. Document what you want and where your business is headed. Then execute your hiring strategy.
WHAT ARE YOUR COMPLETE HIRING NEEDS?
We advise our clients to lay all the cards out on the table. This includes the complete picture of your hiring needs: what’s essential to hire for today, and what you expect to hire in the future.
This is not a solo exercise. Get the right people on your team in the room and brainstorm.
STARTER QUESTIONS TO PLAN YOUR HIRING STRATEGY
- What are the gaps in your Org Chart? What are the roles you need to fill?
- Are job descriptions current? If the past 14+ months has taught us anything, it’s that change is constant. Your company’s job descriptions should be reviewed frequently. The skills that you may have needed a year ago may have changed. If so, update those job descriptions AND create new ones for the new roles – the ones you put a title to because of a gap you identified.
- What are the “mission critical” roles to fill? And do you have consensus on these critical roles?
YOUR HIRING PLAN KEY INGREDIENTS
- Is your org chart up-to-date?
- Are your job descriptions up-to-date? (And do they align with your org chart?)
- Is your compensation and pay structure on par with market/industry benchmarks?
- Does the compensation and pay structure align with your company’s overall budget?
- Are you exercising pay transparency? Not all states require this (yet), but this is a trend that isn’t going away. We recommend a publicly known pay range on all job descriptions.
- Is your standard operating procedure (SOP) for recruiting and hiring up-to-date and understood by all? (Including HR and hiring managers.)
GREAT HIRING STRATEGIES ARE EFFICIENT
Top talent isn’t sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. As the cliché goes, you have to strike while the iron is hot. That’s why we encourage our clients to have SOPs for ensuring that you move quickly and efficiently in hiring talent. If it takes you two weeks to get back to a job candidate, then guess what? That’s two weeks that recruiters are likely leveraging to lure your job candidate elsewhere.
JOB POSTINGS: ARE YOU CREATING A WINNING MESSAGE?
Job postings are often the first exposure your prospective employees have with your company and brand. Are you effectively selling the position and your company? In a rebounding economy, first impressions are essential.
While you are at it, take a critical look at what you’re saying publicly about your open job positions, your company, and the internal realities. Do they align?
JOB SHADOWING IS A WIN-WIN FOR YOU AND YOUR JOB CANDIDATE
One of the biggest trends we see with hiring is offering a job shadowing experience for candidates (aka a realistic job preview.) This gives the candidate a clearer view into what it would be like to work for your firm. If your culture is on point, this should really give you the upper hand in wooing top talent to join your company. (And if not … well, it’s time to address!)
EMPOWER THE HIRING MANAGER
We like to say that HR is not there to do the job of the hiring manager. Of course, HR should help remove some of the administrative burden from the hiring manager, as a partner in the process. But the hiring manager should be empowered (and coached as needed) to follow the hiring plan’s SOPS, checklists, interview procedures, and onboarding.
That’s why your hiring strategy should account for spotting training gaps: areas where your hiring managers should be coached and trained so that they thrive and flourish in their management roles.
HIRING STRATEGY PITFALLS TO AVOID
- Job descriptions that are out-to-date. Again, we see this all too often. In the rush to hire a new employee, the job description hasn’t been fully vetted and updated. Trying to hire without a well-defined job description is like trying to play tennis without a racquet.
- Job descriptions that are not helpful to the hiring manager. A good job description should inform hiring managers who has the right experience, the key skills to recruit for, and how to evaluate candidates for a good fit. They also inform the employee on their essential duties.
- Job descriptions masquerading as job postings. Job postings are written to sell the opportunity and provide just enough context for who is a great fit for the role. Don’t confuse job descriptions with job postings.
- Applicant overload. If you’re inundated and overwhelmed with applications, you may not have set clear enough parameters for who should apply.
- Applicant “deserts.” If you’re getting crickets for your job postings, your pay range might not be commensurate with the skills you’re hiring for.
- Employee “ghosting.” We see this in two forms. One is when a job applicant who is interested in your company and confirms the interview appointment, then doesn’t show. The other form of employee ghosting is when you make the offer, the candidate accepts, and then … doesn’t show up for work. You may think this is rare, but unfortunately, we’re seeing this in markets across the country. The take-home message here is: stay connected! Employee retention begins the day of the job offer acceptance.
HIRING STRATEGIES REQUIRE ONGOING CHECK-INS AND PLANNING
We recommend updating your hiring plan at least once a year. And in fast-growing economies, you might want to consider reviewing your hiring plan twice a year.
Job descriptions should be updated at least yearly, and used during annual reviews. But better yet, use the job description as a tool for the manager and employee to discuss during ongoing check-ins. Real-time, continuous feedback between managers and employees provides the best opportunity for all parties to check-in and ensure expectations are set and being met on both sides.
How often are you inviting team members to participate in your company’s expansion planning? Your team is better poised to proactively tackle your expansion goals when they know in real-time where the company is headed. Another incentive for engaging your team in expansion planning is that they can prepare and advise when those expansion plans include states with complex labor laws. You might not think this is a big deal, but it is! Labor laws change constantly. A key to business growth is being agile: staying on top of labor laws is essential to achieve your company’s long-term growth.
As the saying goes, culture trumps strategy. As you work to leverage the upsides of a roaring economy, don’t neglect what got your company great in the first place: the people and the culture. Make sure you’re setting the example and championing your team to maintain a great culture.
Thriving economies usually mean increases in compensation. Watch for trends and indications that you may need to adjust compensation to stay competitive.
Many of our clients are looking within their companies for their next great leaders. Are there skills you can help to “up train” your employees so you can get better performance and outcomes?
Seeking the Right Employee Mindset
To thrive in this economy, you need employees who have great aptitude, resilience and are open to change. Is your hiring strategy accounting for these necessary skills?
When it comes to hiring top talent, time is of the essence. Job candidates have plenty of options right now. Make sure you have an efficient hiring strategy and stay in constant communication with those employee candidates!
Many of our clients are hosting virtual roundtables with job candidates as part of the hiring process. This allows the employer and job candidates a chance to conduct an open dialogue about the company and skills required for success.
We also recommend that clients create short videos that describe the job positions and qualifications, and posting on the company website and other social sites that candidates are using to search for their next opportunity.
We are as happy as we are sure you are that our economy is rebounding. But in reality it just means a new set of challenges. Hiring top talent is one of the biggest challenges facing our clients. It’s certainly a good problem to have, but a problem, nonetheless: unless you have an up-to-date hiring strategy.
Interested in other current employment trends? Click the link to view the recent blog: Don’t Fear Change at Work: Drive the Change or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance, and benefits.