EZ HiRe, Hiring Strategy, HR Innovation, Recruiting

Are You Still Hiring Like It’s 1999?

In starting off our blog series for the year, I went to the great book of knowledge (Google) and searched “What is the most common HR problem for business owners?”

Not surprisingly, Retention and Recruitment came up in the top two. It’s not surprising because we hear this from our clients all the time. It should be a little surprising, though, given that most of us need jobs in order to buy groceries and take care of our basic needs. So, why is it so hard to recruit and retain employees these days?

Unfortunately, as Bob Dylan wrote, “The Times, They Are a-Changin.” Actually, they changed some time ago and a great number of organizations haven’t caught up yet. Employees no longer are satisfied with what was offered years ago or with recruiting processes that haven’t been updated.

Still doing everything with pen and paper? They are going to assume your company isn’t technically up to date (and they would assume correctly).

Still using boilerplate recruiting questions? That might be your greatest weakness, and certainly isn’t your greatest strength.

Still demanding a four-year college degree over someone with fifteen years’ experience actually doing the job? You may be shrinking an extremely talented talent pool.

So, what do candidates want in today’s market?

  • Make the application process seamless, quick, and digitally savvy — please do not make them upload their resume and then go through eight screens online filling out the same information that is on the resume. Nearly 60% of job seekers quit online job applications because they are too long and complex.Time is precious, and if you are wasting their time on the application, they are going to infer that you are going to be inefficient and waste their time at work.
  • Accurate job descriptions and benefit information — communicate in writing to them what the job expectations are and what the benefits will be. Odds are, they are going to be comparing your job with others (and probably even their current job). You need to make a good impression during the recruiting process to show how good it is going to be to work for your organization. If you are handing over copies of benefit forms that have been copied too many times to be clear or have old rates or an outdated position description “that you’ll update later,” you’ll look unorganized and not really ready to bring this position onboard.
  • Better Communication with Clear timelines and feedback – how well you communicate during the recruiting process is going to give the candidate an impression of how well communication is going to flow on the job. The more communication and information that flows to the candidate, the better the experience will be.
  • Flexible communication options – be willing to text with the candidate if this is what they prefer and if this is what will make communication more efficient. Also, be willing to do online interviews – not only is this time saving, but it will also give you a great idea of how well the candidate will present in online meetings.
  • Keep it personal — while AI is streamlining a lot of the recruiting process, it’s never going to communicate your culture as well as the personal touch will. Candidates will want to know if your company is the right fit for them just as much as you want to know if they are a good fit for you.
  • Seek them out — A survey stated that 70% of the global workforce is made up of passive talent who aren’t actively job searching. If you are only relying on your ads to bring people in, you need to recognize that your best talent is probably currently working, and if they aren’t, they are relying on networking to find their next job. Those job advertisements are still important, but you are going to find your best talent by going out and finding them and convincing them to come work for you.

Let’s suppose you’ve adjusted your recruiting strategy and now you have great candidates. What are they going to want in order to join your company? More than the promise of a steady paycheck, that’s for certain.

There’s a lot said these days about “young people just not wanting to work” and that “I’ve never seen a generation so entitled.” There may be some truth to that for some young people who’ve spent their summers on Xbox instead of mowing lawns or watching other people’s kids. However, I think the bigger part of the story is that most young people (and to be fair, people in general) don’t want to work bad jobs for poor wages for companies that don’t care. The younger generation just isn’t as willing to accept that this is the way it has to be.

Consider this:

The younger generation coming in are Gen Z, who were mainly raised by your Gen Xers (or some older Millennials). Gen Z has observed two things about the workforce as they’ve grown up:

1)     Their grandparents in the Baby Boomer or Silent Generation are struggling financially on fixed incomes, even though they dedicated their entire lives to being loyal to “The Company” in which they worked for forty plus years putting their own personal wants second. So, they question, where is “The Company” for them now? Pensions have gone bust, Social Security is failing, large companies have dismantled, and health care costs are eating into their grocery budget. They gave their lives to “The Company”, and for what, exactly?

2)     Their parents in the Gen X age are balancing caring for aging parents and raising children while working for “The Company.” The ones that are doing great have companies that are flexible and supportive of work life harmony. The ones that are struggling are the ones working for companies that don’t support this. Which companies are Gen Z going to choose?

So, in order to get your candidates to become employees, and then in order to keep and retain them, you need to be sure to consider these things as priorities:

Flexible Schedules – now more than ever, professionals understand the importance of work life harmony and are putting their families and personal lives above their work lives. (Offended by this as a business owner? Then it might be time to re-evaluate your culture’s organizational priorities. Having flexible schedules and work arrangements is a critical priority for employees so that individuals can tend to their families and personal needs as well as take care of their health without worrying about getting into trouble at work. This is not just for your office staff – you can get creative with your line workers and essential personnel as well. They may not be able to work remote, but you can add to your time off policies to give them a time off policy to use by the hour so that they can get to those 4:00 ball games or take a parent or friend to the doctor; you can stagger shifts to accommodate childcare hours or bus routes.

One thing that the Covid pandemic shutdown showed employees is this: For years, companies told them that these type of flexible schedule or work from home requests were impossible. However, when push came to shove and companies either had to shut down or figure out how to do these things, they figured them out rather than lose all their revenue. Employees recognized this – that many employers didn’t really try to accommodate until it impacted the bottom line. Now that employees know it really can be done, they aren’t likely to accept management mandates that it “must” go back to old rigid way of doing things.

Benefits – For many organizations, they stick with the minimum the ACA requires for plans to be compliant. Really great organizations who want to attract and retain employees, however, recognize that the benefit package is a part of total compensation and is a big competitive factor. Contributing more to group benefits is a huge benefit for employees. Also consider your time off benefits. Candidates expect the flexibility of having some time off available to them right at the start – gone are the days of waiting a year to earn some paid time off.

Fair Pay – Employees do expect to be paid for the work that they do. Even if your culture is amazing and you offer a great work life balance, you still need to pay your employees a fair market rate for the job (you see, being a good company and not working your employees eighty hours a week is not a “perk;” it should be a given). Employees are not going to accept “they have such a great culture, I’ll accept less pay,” or “they do so much for the community, I’ll take less pay.” Employees need to be paid for the job they are doing, in accordance with the size of the company (revenue) and the market (location). They are pretty savvy to this, too.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Efforts – To most professionals this does not mean meeting a ratio of various demographics. It means having initiatives in place that ensures that the work environment is a safe place for everyone, and that the workplace supports ideas that come from having a diverse group of individuals. k When hiring to fit your culture, be sure to consider people who will add to your culture and who can offer unique skills and viewpoints to enhance it, not just be able to conform to it.

Don’t Be Just an OK Company – Employees are holding their companies to higher accountability these days. They aren’t as willing to accept “this is just how it is” or turn a blind eye to organizational leadership not walking the walk of their professed company mission. There are opportunities aplenty for candidates now and employees do not have to stay with organizations that do not align with them philosophically or morally. So, be a great company, define your mission and values, and be transparent, and lead from the top with integrity.

Being Able to Contribute Meaningfully – Employees want to know that what they do every day makes an impact on the world around them. Even if it’s just contributing a small part to a greater good. It’s important that employees know that their work is meaningful. (Again, if you are unable to determine how every job in your organization is meaningful and important, it may be time to re-evaluate some things from the top.)

Are you wondering how a company could possibly live up to all of this and still run and be profitable? It can, and the best ones do. We have plenty of clients who operate in just this way, and we can help you.

Wondering how to get your recruiting process efficiently with good technology, great communication, and amazing results? We can help.

Wondering how to reset your organization with some operational strategies to create a work environment to support your employees while still meeting your revenue goals? That’s basically HR’s job, so we’ve got you covered there, too.


February 15, 2024

Paula Agee, VP of Human Resources and Chief People Officer

Don't Just Be Okay. Be Great!

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