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You Can’t Attract New Talent With Old Hiring Practices

Despite what your coworkers – or kids – think, you can run a successful business wearing clothes that are no longer in style.  You can’t, however, run a successful business with attraction and retention methods that are left over from a previous decade.

Hiring and retention trends have changed, and you may not be aware of the new expectations. It is easy to continue with what is comfortable, but you miss out on what makes your organization attractive to others.

As a team that talks with dozens of hiring managers and candidates every week, we’re very aware of the changes that have taken place and mismatched expectations that lead to frustration on both sides of the interview table.  We want to help hiring managers identify outdated ideas that are holding you back and you may not realize it.

Some of the trends are very hot topics but you may have dismissed them as absurd.  Let’s take an objective look at what people want in a job.  Everyone wants really talented people on their team.  To attract them, you need to adapt to the new way of doing business.

What you need to consider to attract and retain top-performing employees:

Flexible Work Options

One of the biggest shifts in employee attraction and retention centers around your employees’ ability to have flexible work options.  Although any flexibility is a significant attractor, the freedom to work from home is a large part of this consideration.

Even though remote work has been around for years, it obviously gained prominence during the Covid pandemic.  Now that more people have had a taste of the flexibility that comes with remote work, they are not ready to give it up.

“Does this job offer remote working options?” is one of the top questions candidates ask when they contact us about a role we are filling.  It is regularly asked within the first 5 minutes of a conversation, and it can be the end of the conversation if the answer is “no”.

71% of professionals said they would change jobs if they were offered flexible scheduling in a new role.  Research from The Execu|Search Group

For managers who like to have their direct reports close by, it can be a great mystery as to why working from home would be beneficial.  You must realize that people aren’t asking to work from home so they can slack off.  People want to work from home to maintain a better work-life balance.

How You Can Increase Flexible Work Options at Your Organization

Providing a flexible schedule doesn’t mean you have to allow employees to work from home 100% of the time.  There are many options; your employees may have some great suggestions, too. Here are some possibilities:

Hybrid: Allow for 2 or 3 days of remote work per week.

Flexible hours: Not all jobs can be done remotely but could there be flexibility around the hours the individuals choose to work?

Dedicated sessions: There are good reasons to have people come to the office such as onboarding, training, team building, etc. Set some dedicated time for in-person work with a clear end date.

Compensation and Benefits

It is a tough market and trying to get top talent at a low price will backfire.  Give a candidate the best offer you can to show your interest and your enthusiasm to have them join your team.  If you don’t know what a competitive offer is, ask someone who would know.

You don’t want a great candidate to feel like a used car that someone doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on.  Giving a candidate that impression is a huge turnoff.

Your job offer has a big impact on how the individual feels about you and your organization.  Do they receive the offer and feel impressed and motivated to show they are worthy of the generous compensation, or do they feel undervalued and disappointed in what you think their abilities are worth?

Counteroffers play a huge part in compensation.  There was a time, not that long ago, that counteroffers were made as a half-hearted attempt to keep people.  Now, even companies that strongly opposed counteroffers in the past, are being very generous and aggressive in their offerings so that they don’t lose a good employee.  When a company sends that kind of wholehearted message, departing employees start to reconsider why they would want to leave.  And if that same employee received a paltry offer from the new employer, the choice to stay becomes pretty obvious.

The Benefits-Side of the Job Offer

The benefits package is another area that has changed over the years.  Whether it’s tuition reimbursement, paternity leave, retirement contributions or other creative perks, the “extras” that come with your job play a large role in the job’s attractiveness.

Vacation is a topic that needs its own spotlight.  At one time it was very acceptable to give a new employee two weeks of vacation for their first year.  This is no longer true – especially at the management levels.  Two weeks of vacation is an outdated practice that taints, what could be, an attractive job offer.

Most organizations, when pressed, are willing to give more vacation if it means securing a good employee.  Send the right message by including the extra vacation in the initial offer letter.

Remember that when someone is considering a job offer they are weighing all the changes that will come with a new job.  Some of those changes include a lot of unknowns which can feel even more daunting.  Make the offer attractive as possible so that they see the many reasons to choose the changes that come with a new job.

How You Can Improve Your Compensation and Benefits

You may have a limited budget that won’t allow you to offer a larger salary.  There are other ways to make your offer very attractive.  Here’s a short list of possibilities:

  • Sign-on Bonus
  • Other bonus opportunities
  • Maternity/paternity leave
  • Community service opportunities
  • Unlimited vacation time
  • Flexible schedule (as mentioned above)

Upward Mobility

People long for advancement.  They want to know there is room to grow in your organization. In fact, according to research done by the Execu|Search Group, 86% of professionals said that they would change jobs if they were offered more opportunities for professional development.

There is a fear among some managers that sounds like this, “What if I train them and they leave?”  The credible concern is that you’ve just spent time and money investing in someone and then they take their new skills to a new employer.  The rebuttal to this fear is, “What if you don’t train them and they stay?”

Are you limiting your employees by not offering growth opportunities?  Do your people have ways to stay engaged, mentally sharp and satisfied with their career trajectory?

Much more than in the past, people are likely to change jobs to get to the next rung of their career ladder. When your organization can clearly articulate advancement options within your company, people are more inclined to stay. These advancement opportunities are also very attractive to people outside your organization, considering a job change.  When there is room to grow, people get excited about all the potential.

Pace of the Hiring Process

The pace of a hiring process is more about attracting talent than retaining it but it’s another area that needs to be addressed. The time a hiring process should take, from the first introduction to the offer letter, is much shorter than it used to be.  What was once an acceptable drawn-out process filled with numerous interviews, dinners and assessments is now condensed into a very short span of time.

There is a lot of damage that happens when a candidate is in the hiring process for weeks on end.  As harsh as that may sound to say the delay is damaging, we have found it to be true.  We want to impress upon you the need to make a swift and confident decision when you find a good candidate.

Some negative results of a long hiring process:

  • Your top candidate gets another offer and jumps on it.
  • Your top candidate decides you must not be that impressed with their abilities, so they withdraw.
  • Your top candidate realizes that your organization struggles to make decisions and they don’t want to join an organization like that.
  • The employer of your top candidate becomes aware of their job search and provides them with what they want.
  • The reason the candidate wanted to leave their current employer has resolved itself or has diminished in importance over time, so they are not interested in making a job change.

To shorten the time of the hiring process, make sure everyone involved in the hiring decision considers it a high priority.  Carve out time to move it along quickly.  Additionally, be sure your hiring team is in alignment about what skills and experiences your ideal candidate should have, before you start interviewing.

Action Item for Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Take an objective look at what you are offering – both to new employees and your current ones.  Do you see some areas that you have fallen into the old-school thinking?  Have you stayed current with your hiring and retention methods, or have you stayed comfortable with the policies you have used for decades?

During our 47 years of doing executive search work, we’ve seen a lot of changes in employee expectations.  We want to pass along what we are seeing so that you can adapt to the best ways to hire and retain.

More to Come

Each of these topics about hiring and retention deserve a deeper dive to really unpack the research and experiences around them.  To provide a wider breadth of understanding, we will be publishing a series of articles on these topics.

Our desire is to help inform employers so that they can attract and retain the talent that helps organizations to be successful. We want to be surrounded by successful organizations, employing happy successful people.

If you have questions or comments related to these topics, we’d love to hear from you!  Drop us a note.