By Sanjay Khatnani, Managing Partner, J2 Solutions
It’s an employee market. Regardless of the industry, employers coast to coast are struggling to find enough workers to keep up with the post-pandemic economy. As businesses look to ramp up their staff, many of the unemployed are holding back—for a range of reasons. Some are still fueled by fears of COVID, while others are struggling to find affordable childcare. Many, however, are holding out for a “better” job than what they had pre-pandemic—and the extra $300-a-week federal supplement isn’t working to employers’ advantage, either.
There is a disconnect between the economy and the labor market, fueling a competitive war for talent among employers. Employees are in a position of power; with so many open positions to choose from (and a keen awareness that employers are desperate to find help), they are seizing the opportunity to be more selective.
What’s an employer to do? Short of offering financial incentives (i.e., overpaying), what are some other ways employers can entice workers to come on board—and stay put—at a time when job seekers have the pick of the litter?
As a business owner, I have been grappling with this issue for months now. So, I launched an information-gathering mission to address this growing issue. I pondered, I researched, and I even reached out to some of my competitors to get their take on it.
The crux of the issue is this: employees’ wants and needs have changed over the past year and a half. Status quo is no longer a viable option for business owners. Employers need to think outside the box and evolve along with the rapidly changing landscape to create a workplace environment that appeals to candidates—without just throwing money at them. For example:
- Offer flexible work options: Employees have become used to working from home. Though jarring at first, the pandemic-forced remote workplace has been an immensely positive experience for many. They can be more present with their families, enjoy less wear and tear on their cars, and even get an extra hour or two of productivity that would have otherwise been spent behind the wheel. Consider this: 87% of employees who worked remotely during the pandemic say they’d prefer to continue working remotely at least one day a week, according to Prudential Financial’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey. Sixty-eight percent say a hybrid workplace model is ideal. To remain competitive as an employer, consider offering candidates the option of remote, in-office, or a hybrid of the two.
- Tout your diversity and inclusion practices: If you’re like most business owners today, you have embraced a culture of diversity and inclusion in your workplace. But are you vocal about it? Don’t be shy! Communicate openly about the range of diverse identities, perspectives, and backgrounds that comprise your workforce and the important role diversity plays in the tapestry of your organization.
- Define your social mission: People today love a cause. The millennial and the new-to-the-workforce Gen-Zers are particularly passionate about working for socially conscious companies; their careers and brand choices are largely tied to their belief systems. They are not afraid to speak up in pursuit of social justice, and they expect the same from the business community and potential employers. Do you have a social mission? If so, use it as a selling point in your hiring practices.
- Give employees a voice: Be clear about the impact your new hires will have on the organization. Let them know they will not be “order-takers,” but rather thought leaders who will provide input to solutions, brainstorm collaboratively and contribute to the organization’s strategic business goals. Employees want to work for a company that values their unique skills and abilities, empowers them to make a difference, and gives them some skin in the game.
- Build a positive workplace culture: At the end of the day, people want to be happy in their jobs. Sure, everyone wants to make good money, but don’t underestimate the power of job satisfaction. One of the biggest contributors to employees’ happiness quotient at work is culture—the people, the quality of interactions, and the overall vibe of their workplace. What does your workplace culture look like today? Is it siloed, uptight, and all-business? Or is it collaborative, positive, and fun? You know what they say about all work and no play…
The pandemic has forced business leaders to rethink every aspect of how they run their business—and hiring is no exception. Challenging as this issue has been for business owners, I would venture to guess that we will end up in a more positive place as a result, as we redefine the workplace, create a thriving workforce, and broaden our perspectives.
What are some strategies that have worked for you in attracting talent? Let’s brainstorm together.