Recruitment and hiring for your small business have never been easy. Especially during “The Great Resignation,” when millions of people are simply walking away from their jobs and careers. Many predicted that after unemployment benefits ended we’d see a mass return to the labor market. Not so!
Does this mean you should throw in the recruitment towel? No way! Recruitment may not be easy, but we want this guide to help you gain insights on how to sell your company effectively to attract great talent, create an interview process that helps you spot possible red flags, and ensure your company is providing the culture that attracts and retains great talent.
THE GREAT RESIGNATION: WHAT’S GOING ON?
It’s being called many names: The Big Quit, The Grand Epiphany, and The Great Resignation. Millions of people are leaving the workforce and not returning to the job market. What’s happening? Where are they going? Are your best employees next?
Why are so many people leaving their jobs? There are many reasons for this, but one of the most pressing reasons is that people are simply reassessing what they want from their work and lives. The COVID-19 pandemic shook up our inner snow globes! As a result, people are thinking life is short, nothing is for certain, and if not now, when?
Other factors are driving The Great Resignation that goes beyond self-reflection of what people want from their careers and lives, which you need to be aware of.
Other factors driving The Great Resignation include:
- Sudden changes in childcare, homeschooling and family dynamics
- New stressors: more uncertainty and conflicts like working from home while little kids are asking for our attention or being back in the office and wearing a mask eight hours a day
- Extremes: either too little work or too much work (and I suspect the latter is true for you and your employees)
CAN YOU WAIT OUT THE GREAT RESIGNATION?
I don’t think so!
We’ve never seen these kinds of numbers before. I hate to use the word “unprecedented,” since it was so overused in 2020, but The Great Resignation is unprecedented. Millions of working mothers have left the workforce because working while juggling childcare and homeschooling is just too difficult. In years past, people could lean on families to help support childcare. But today, people are living far from families. That built-in support system isn’t available to many people today.
All of these sudden and often intense life changes have caused people to rethink their wants and needs. A survey conducted in May of 2021 found that 50 percent of the labor force is rethinking what they want in their jobs and careers!
For better or worse, we have a labor shortage problem on our hands. It’s time to be proactive in managing recruitment and hiring. Let’s focus on what you can do to sell your company better, connect with great talent, win them over, and ensure your screening and hiring process is helping you weed out bad cultural fits. And while we’re at it, we’ll share ways to innovate your recruitment approach!
WHAT YOUR CURRENT AND FUTURE EMPLOYEES WANT
Today’s workers are looking for higher pay, more time off, and more days working from home.
You might be saying, “Of course, Mindy! Tell me something I don’t know.” I hear you. And I WILL tell you things you might not know in a moment. But it’s important to address the elephant in the room. To what extent can you address higher pay, more time off, and creating a flexible work model to address what the vast majority of job candidates are looking for? You might not be able to offer all three, but can you adjust your offerings to be more in line with what people want?
Next, let’s look at what employees want that might not be on your radar.
According to research conducted by Humu, a company that uses data to make employees happier:
Work overload is only one cause of burnout. Too often, organizations fail to acknowledge—let alone address—other dimensions of burnout. Burnout is amplified by a lack of meaning in the employee’s work and not receiving the emotional support they need to thrive. This leads to feeling stretched too thin.
In other words: workers aren’t just looking for higher pay, more time off, or more days at home. They’re questioning the whole meaning of the “daily grind.” Your employees and prospective hires are asking themselves, “Why am I putting so much of myself into my career? Am I getting a fair deal from my employer? Is the return on my investment paying off?”
I encourage you to take some time and reflect on what your employees and future employees are asking themselves. How can you help them feel like their work has meaning, purpose, and your value proposition to them is a win-win for both you and your employees?
RECRUITMENT: ARE YOU SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS?
At Inspiring HR, we work with small businesses across the country. When it comes to recruitment, we’ve seen it all! I must tell you: make sure your recruitment protocols, processes, and tools are buttoned up.
I can see you rolling your eyes! You’re probably thinking, “Mindy, come on! Are you going to lecture me on how to write a good job description, publishing an attention-getting job posting, and hosting an insightful job interview?
I won’t lecture you, but I will remind you of the key elements of a great recruitment process. Maybe you have it all “nailed,” but I’d invite you to analyze your current practices to ensure you’re not losing out on recruiting great talent.
YOUR RECRUITMENT TOOLKIT
Job Descriptions Versus Job Postings
Your job description should be a complete, thorough description of the job you are hiring for. It should contain all elements of what you are looking for, the skills and experience that are necessary for success, along with salary and benefits.
Let me ask you: are your job descriptions up to date? Don’t immediately say “Yes!” and move on. Remember, the pandemic has upended not only how we work, but what is required in our work, such as skills and abilities. Make sure your job descriptions are up-to-date and thorough!
And while we’re at it: don’t confuse job descriptions with job postings.
Job postings are “selling” tools. Job postings share your company’s brand story and should encourage people to “lean into” your job offer. Job postings should be simple, hit the highlights of what the ideal candidate should be, and why this job opportunity is highly compelling to candidates. To stand out in a highly competitive recruitment landscape, your job postings have to work that much harder. Are your job postings hitting the bar on communicating why your company is a great place to work?
Upgrading Your Job Postings
Remember words matter! Review your current job postings and ask yourself:
- Am I selling our company as a great place to work?
- Does the job title make sense to the potential job candidate?
- Am I prioritizing skills and abilities over experience?
An important trend in job postings for you to be aware of is writing those postings with gender-neutral language. According to a McKinsey & Company report, gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform those that are not.
For more insights, read our article on Why Gender-Neutral Job Postings Help Recruit Great Talent.
How buttoned up is your screening process? Have you documented the key steps and what you want your screeners to probe and look for? Have you clarified how and when you’ll do phone screenings versus video screenings? Screening candidates well will set you up for future success, because the job interview itself remains one of the most challenging aspects of managers and hiring leaders. That’s why we want to share best practices next on conducting interviews.
When it comes to job interviews, remember the 70/30 rule:
- 70 percent of the time, your job candidate should be doing the talking.
- 30 percent of the time, you should be talking—and not the other way around!
While the job candidate is speaking, practice active listening. What does this mean?
- Listen for how the candidate responds: what are they saying? Does this resonate with you? Why or why not?
- Listen for what IS NOT being said: are there topics that the candidate seems to be avoiding? Should you probe to see if there are any skeletons in the closet or red flags to address?
- Listen for emotional maturity or immaturity: does the candidate have emotional maturity, or has the capability for growing?
- Listen for genuine interest in your company: does the candidate demonstrate he or she has read up on your company and has a true desire to be part of your team?
- Listen for examples of values that align with your company values: you want to hire people who will contribute to your culture and not derail your culture.
Tips for Conducting Better Interviews
- Get comfortable with silence! Most of us—myself included—don’t like silence in conversations and job interviews. But pausing to allow the job candidate to speak, or reflect deeper on a question you posed, is a sign of respect. You’d be surprised how conversations can ripen and bear fruit by simply pausing and giving your candidate the space to share more.
- Ask open-ended, job-related questions: leave the door open for the job candidate to explore more full-bodied, nuanced answers to your questions. Avoiding yes or no questions helps to further a richer, more robust conversation.
- Ask questions that invite the job candidate to share stories: stories of when they overcame obstacles, proactively problem-solved, made tough decisions, and demonstrate characteristics of the core values you are hiring to reinforce in your company.
- Ask questions that help you identify how the candidate learns. You want to have a strong sense of how the candidate takes in information and uses that information to make informed decisions, and learns from mistakes.
- Look for red flags: you may like the job candidate. You might also feel a sense of urgency in quickly making a hiring decision. But don’t let those factors blind you from red flags or issues that you should address with the candidate in the interview, or afterward when you reflect on the interview itself. Wouldn’t you prefer to avoid a bad hiring decision than deal with the calamity of introducing the wrong person into your team?
TODAY’S JOB CANDIDATES EXPECT MORE
Like it or not, your job candidates have different expectations of what they want from their next employer. Those expectations include:
- Flexible work: they want to work when they want (often working around family commitments and childcare) and where they want (from home, the office, or the beach.)
- Better benefits: and not just medical/health care benefits. You know by now that many mothers are leaving the workforce because of childcare needs. Can you offer childcare/daycare benefits or provide help or flexibility with this growing need and expectation?
- Better pay AND pay fairness! Pay transparency is a big trend: employees want more visibility on the pay structure at their company. Many states are requiring pay transparency. Make sure you’re both compliant with state laws and addressing what today’s job candidates want.
- Great culture and opportunities: do your company vision and core values resonate with today’s job candidates? Are you personally embodying your company’s core values? Is your company doing everything it can to live those values every day? Today’s job candidates want work that provides meaning and purpose. Make sure your company’s mission and core values are being practiced every day.
DON’T DISCOUNT “GREEN” EMPLOYEES
It’s understandable to want to hire job candidates who have a proven track record and experience in the duties for which you are hiring. But we are seeing so much success with our clients who are hiring “green” employees and training them up. Those inexperienced employees often:
- Have less “baggage”
- Are more affordable
- Eager to learn
- Easier to mentor
DON’T OVERLOOK YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYEES!
While the default position for hiring employees is to look outside your company, make sure you consider current employees for those open positions.
We suggest surveying your current employees: do they want to make a change? If so, could you help train them into taking on new roles and responsibilities?
Benefits to hiring from within your company:
- Retain your initial hiring investment
- Makes employees more diversified and more skilled
- Instills loyalty and motivation with your current employees as they see upward mobility opportunities
- Can often cost less than hiring externally!
EMPLOYEE “GHOSTING”: A CHALLENGING RECRUITMENT TREND
We see “Ghosting” happening in two forms. One form of Ghosting 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.
Tips for Reducing No Shows and “Employee Ghosting”
- Send welcome letters immediately outlining details like key contacts in the company, potential peer mentors, orientation logistics, and other information to help prepare the candidate before the start date.
- Encourage the candidate’s manager or “peer mentor” to reach out and call the associate to answer questions about what to expect on the first week of work to begin developing a relationship.
- Have the candidate complete a bio and provide a photo that is shared with the team or post on your company’s intranet, website, bulletin board, or in internal communication forums … and let the new employee know how you are welcoming them into the company!
- Reach out to the candidate to obtain basic information so that items like business cards, payroll, and benefits paperwork can be completed.
- Develop an agenda and have it in place before the candidate’s first day on the job.
- Ensure the candidate’s point of contact (hiring manager, peer mentor, or another employee) is on hand on the first day to help orientate the employee.
New Employee Onboarding Key Steps
Onboarding new employees are essential for setting the right expectations with your new hires and reinforcing that they made the right decision to join your team. Here are the basic steps in facilitating a great onboarding experience.
- Communicate a sense of the community the new employee is joining at your company.
- Outline your company’s business plan, goals, and mission.
- Review the overall or general practices and expectations that you have for the employee.
- Discuss the goals of the department that your employee will be working in.
- Set clear expectations: what do you expect of your new employee and what should the employee expect of you?
- Foster trust and confidence: “first-day jitters” are common. How can you help build trust and confidence at the start of your new employee’s tenure?
- Keep those lines of communication open: what is your open-door policy? How should the employee expect check-ins will occur, and in what format?
SETTING YOUR NEW EMPLOYEE (AND YOURSELF) UP FOR SUCCESS
Don’t wait until your new employee arrives for his or her first day on the job to establish a process for success. Here are suggestions for helping your new employee to succeed.
- Set interim goals: what goals do you want your employee to achieve in the first 30, 60, and 90 days?
- Schedule check-ins: and use the time together to reinforce expectations, evaluate performance, and clear up questions or misunderstandings.
- Reinforce the use of “peer mentors” in your company so your new employee has a colleague to lean on and learn from.
- Identify a path to personal and professional development: whether it’s learning new skill sets, cultivating a continuous improvement mindset, or developing a more robust and formalized career development plan.
DESIGNING THE IDEAL EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE
As you recruit and hire, remember what employees want from their careers today:
- Ability to cultivate purpose outside of work: this could mean hobbies, relationships, and giving back. Make sure your jobs and roles encourage cultivating purpose outside of work hours.
- Connection with the work itself: employees want to feel connected, engaged and know their work has purpose and matters.
- Purpose to the organization’s mission and values: employees want to feel that they are making a difference, and that difference begins with your company’s mission and core values.
FINALLY: SHOULD YOU HIRE SLOW?
Quite often we tell our clients, “Be slow to hire and wait for great” In other words, deal with the short-term pain of not filling open jobs so you “wait for great” job candidates. We have all made bad hiring decisions. There’s no one “bulletproof” process. But you can improve your odds of hiring a great fit job candidate by slowing down, following a clear, well-defined process, listening deeply during those job interviews, and making informed hiring decisions.
Interested in other current employment trends? Click the link to view the recent blog: What to Do When Compliance Disrupts Your Small Business Culture or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance, and benefits.