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Help Wanted: Recruiting Returns as a Top Business Challenge

July 07, 2021 1:26 PM | Dena A Culpepper (Administrator)

The record unemployment rates the U.S. saw during the pandemic are quickly receding. In fact, recruiting is back as a top company priority.

The Federal Reserve Bank says U.S. unemployment will drop to 4.5% by end of 2021 and continue falling to 3.8% in 2022 and 3.5% in 2023. Goldman Sacs paints an even more stark picture. They project unemployment falling to 4.1% by the end of this year.

A recent Deloitte study said CEO’s have one overriding concern in 2021, and that is talent. Attracting, hiring, retaining, developing, and engaging talent is their top concern.

Their worries around the “war for talent” are likely well placed. Coming out of the pandemic resignations are soaring. The Labor Department says 4 million employees voluntarily left their job in April alone. The Microsoft Work Trend Index found 40% of workers are thinking about changing jobs this year. Many companies and industry sectors, already struggling with an acute shortage of workers, will find themselves even more impacted if this “Great Resignation” unfolds.

Expiring federal unemployment benefits will likely bring some workers back into the workforce and ease the shortage slightly, but it will not be enough. In the absence of an economic downturn employers will continue to struggle with too few workers who have the skills needed. 

With talent hard to find and open requisition numbers rising by the day, HR and Talent Acquisition leaders need solutions. To be sure, this is not an easy problem quickly solved. Efforts to throw money at some magic potent around recruiting and retention are typically not the answer. Success is often found through incremental change that targets the areas with the quickest potential ROI.

To be sure, some organizations do get better results. Successful recruiting and above average retention are the predictable results of solid processes. In fact, the best practices are mostly simple. Simple, however, will never be confused with easy. So, where should we begin?

Let’s start by borrowing a playbook from a legendary football great, the late Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi. Every year at the start of the season he would stand in front of a room of professional athletes who had played football their entire life and who were now were playing the game at the highest level. He would hold out a football and say “Gentleman, this is a football.” He knew the seasons success rested not in the extraordinary, but in executing the basics better than their opponent.

And so it is with recruiting and retention. Those organizations who fare best in this talent war execute the basics of attracting, selecting, and onboarding talent. They then do a great job of helping these new teammates “attach” to this new team they have joined. They keep it simple.   

A starting place is an audit of the recruiting workflow from the first conversation a recruiter has with a hiring manager about a newly opened req through sourcing, interviewing, selection, onboarding and managing for the first 90 days of employment. Identify the gaps between how your organization does each step and the best practices in the industry. Develop a plan to eliminate the gaps.

In a future blog we will talk through some key ideas around auditing your recruiting. For now, we will look at some tactics that are often low hanging fruit to consider. In many organizations these things can help.

Here are five things to consider:

Make sure your employee referral program is strong.

Candidate who join the company as a result of an employee referral stay longer and perform better than any other source of hire. They also reduce the days needed to fill an open position, reducing the time to fill by almost 50%!

Make sure your employee referral program is an effective incentive within your organization, and then market it well within the company!

Make the necessary adjustments based on the realities of post-pandemic recruiting.

The pandemic changed many facets of our world of work. The specifics of the changes vary based on the industry, but all industries are facing them. For knowledge workers it may be remote work, while manufacturing is experimenting with schedule flexibility. In your industry something is changing.

Some organizations have embraced those changes, others are at least adapting to them. You will not compete successfully for talent if your leadership team is resisting what your competitors are embracing.

Consider older workers.

Workers age 55+ make up a fast-growing demographic of our workforce as the baby boomers age. For many of them retiring at 62 or 65 is undesirable, or financially impossible. Age discrimination has long been an HR struggle because of hiring managers bias toward older workers.

In reality this group stays longer in a new role than any other age group. They also take fewer days off, work well with the various generations in the workplace, and adapt well to changing technologies. They are also on the market in disproportionate numbers.

Use Stay Interviews 

Exit interviews have long been an HR standard as we try to find out why people exit our organizations. While some good information comes from these exit interviews, that info is often distorted by employees’ natural emotions as they are leaving – which may range from anger to embarrassment.

Many times, the Stay Interview is a much better feedback loop. In the simplest form, a Stay Interview simply asks employees who are not leaving (as far as we know) some foundational questions. What do you enjoy about your role and about working here? Why have you stayed as long as you have? If you ever left what would make you want to leave, where would you go? What can I do as your leader to make this a better place for you to work? What can I do to get your ready for your next role? What can I do to make you more productive and more valuable to the company?

Not only do these conversations provide great feedback, but they are also tremendous trust builders between the employee and their leader. Trust is the foundation to the employer – employee relationship.

Many organizations have seen retention improve through the Stay Interview process.

Make the business case for recruiting investments.

Revenues fell during the pandemic. Budget cuts naturally followed, with HR and Recruiting included. Organizations are naturally slow to increase spending as things rebound, often because revenue projections are still unproven.

But based on what we are seeing in talent acquisition trends - from talent scarcity to turnover - most of us need to deploy more resources in this area than we are spending now. As HR leaders we have to build the business case for the ROI recruiting will provide back to the organization.

Your company’s growth and success are almost certainly tied to your ability to recruit and retain the talent you need. While the challenges are clear, a strategy focused on simple, foundational talent strategies will improve your results.

Follow Texas SHRM here for more blogs that will help your organization thrive in the days to come! And join us August 25th at noon for a panel discussion on recruiting with some industry experts!