By historical standards, the U.S. unemployment rate is quite low. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment fell from 10 percent in late 2009 to under 4 percent in mid-2018 — the lowest reading in decades.
For American workers, this is good news. For employers, the picture is less rosy. With fewer capable workers seeking employment, finding talented employees is a challenge.
Employers are not altogether at the mercy of a tight labor market, however. Your firm can use some or all of these five recruiting and retention strategies to broaden its pipeline of talented prospects and keep them happy once they are on your team.
- Use As Many Recruiting Channels As You Can
Recruiting channels abound. If you have thus far relied on just a handful of job posting websites, or recruited primarily via word of mouth, consider expanding your reach. Review lists of the best recruiting websites and pursue specialty-specific channels, such as Dice (for technology jobs) and Health eCareers (for medical jobs).
- Lead by Example
Cultivate an employee-friendly image that begins at the top. When you institute new workplace rules and procedures, ensure that you follow them to the letter — and ask your team to do the same.
“Employees respect and admire leaders who lead by example,” says Miami entrepreneur George Otte. “When they feel positively about the work they do, they work harder and stay in place longer.”
- Offer Signing Bonuses and Flexible Terms
According to a report by WorldAtWork, more than three-quarters of U.S. employers offered signing bonuses in 2016. Some bonuses were calculated as a percentage of salary, though some were simply fixed payments to all new hires. If resources allow, make it standard practice to offer a signing bonus for new employees.
Other perks may bear fruit, as well. Many new hires value flexible starting dates or working hours, for instance. Unless you need personnel right away, you can probably afford to give new hires two or three weeks’ grace before they begin.
- Offer Regularly Scheduled Raises
Most employers offer regularly scheduled raises to employees who’ve consistently exceeded their performance goals. For retention purposes, it is crucial that these raises meet or exceed close competitors’. Speak with your leadership peers and poll competitors’ former employees to determine the “market rate” for annual pay increases, then set a realistic target above that benchmark. In time, your reputation for paying well will spread among prospective employees.
- Invest in Fringe Benefits and Workplace Perks (Without Introducing Distractions)
If your firm does not yet offer comprehensive healthcare options, competitive time-off allowances, and fringe benefits such as flexible spending accounts and life insurance, speak with a human resources professional about implementing them. Even in a tight labor market, there’s no need to invest in flashy perks like in-office game rooms and beer taps — but it’s crucial that you take care of employees’ basic needs.
Is Your Recruiting and Retention Strategy Working as Intended?
In a historically tight labor market, employers are pulling out all the stops to recruit and retain the very best workers. If you have yet to devote sufficient resources to reflect the competitive landscape, you may find yourself at a disadvantage to your peer companies — with potentially problematic ramifications for your talent pipeline.
You owe it to your company’s stakeholders to ensure that your firm continues to procure and satisfy top talent. Take an unflinching look at your current human resources picture and answer, honestly, whether this is indeed the case.