How the Fight to Recruit & Retain Talent Is Heating Up
Summer is hot in 2021, but the job market might be even hotter. In April, the job market hit the record-breaking high of 9.3 million open jobs, and hiring momentum has not relented for the vacation season.
As employers vie for strong candidates, job market leverage has shifted dramatically. In 2020, employers were in the driver's seat as layoffs and salary freezes skyrocketed. Workers were grateful to have jobs and stability, which kept turnover and hiring demand low.
2021 is different. Employment bargaining power has migrated to job seekers who are willing to wait for the right job and to employees who are demonstrating willingness to leave current positions and confidence that they can find something better. A record-setting four million people quit their jobs this April according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
So, what are employers doing to recruit and retain today’s empowered and option-rich talent? Some of the most effective strategies Employment Enterprises is seeing are classic options that almost always get results, such as money and flexibility. Others are responses to some of the losses of the pandemic, such as career development or more time for family and life milestones. Here’s a look at both, starting with the place where most job offer negotiations begin: money.
Bonuses and Wage Bumps
2021 is the summer of the hiring bonus for everyone. The Wall Street Journal reported that in June, 20% of all jobs on Ziprecruiter included a hiring bonus. At Employment Enterprises, we are seeing bonuses for all kinds of work, from entry-level clerical work to C-suite employees. In addition, many states are leveraging Federal funds to entice unemployed people back into the workforce with return-to-work bonuses ranging from $500 to $2,000.
Wages are also on the rise. June 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that year over year average hourly earnings increased by 3.6%. According to the Washington Post, April, May, and June of this year delivered “some of the fastest wage growth since the 1980s.”
Improving compensation is not a revolutionary approach, but it is effective. With a bit of market analysis, businesses of all sizes can ascertain the low, medium, and high pay ranges offered by competitors across their region. Employers that raise hourly pay rates to match or exceed competitors—even by just a dollar or two—are seeing substantial increases in applicants and job offer acceptances. The same is true for salaried roles. Better pay is delivering better recruiting results.
Skipping Trial Periods & Offering Full-Time Roles
Contract-based and contract-to-hire work have long given employers a safety net to test a candidate in a role rather than committing right away. With talent competition at such intense levels, employers are throwing away the safety net and making more full-time offers.
Employment Enterprises has seen direct hire offers rise by 55% since the start of 2021 Rather than risk losing a strong candidate to a competitor right away or at the end of the contract, employers are choosing to make the full offer, skip the trial, and risk a poor match rather than an empty seat.
Like better wages, full-time offers are a strong recruitment strategy. The gig workforce has grown tremendously over the decade, but many gig workers--especially ride hailing and delivery drivers--lost jobs, money, and stability in the lockdowns of the pandemic. That sizable pool of talent is on the search for greater stability and employers willing to offer it through full-time jobs have a leg up.
Expanding Remote and Hybrid Opportunities
The pandemic reshaped how many people view their life and careers. The extra time with family, away from the office and without commutes was eye-opening and has made remote and hybrid work arrangements a top talent draw.
According to the Citrix Talent Accelerator Study, “88% of knowledge workers say that when searching for a new position, they will look for one that offers complete flexibility in their hours and location.” With big-name companies like DropBox and Zillow offering virtual-first workplaces and Google seeing pushback when calling employees back to offices, remote and flexible, hybrid models are proving a powerful recruitment and retention tool. Employers have made more flexible work schedules a part of their offerings to even their entry-level workforce, recognizing the drive for greater flexibility is important to workers everywhere.
As with pay rates, employers--especially those competing for talent with specialized skills--will need to watch the marketplace and their competition. Remote and hybrid options are top searches at job boards and top requests from job seekers. The ability to offer it will expand any business’ hiring options.
Elevating Reskilling & New Skilling
Workers know how fast their skills have to advance to stay relevant in the job market today. A recent Boston Consulting Group and The Network study revealed that 90% of U.S. workers would reskill to take on a new job and half would reskill for their current jobs. Employers are incorporating skill development plans and next-gen career pathing programs into their formal recruiting strategies, showcasing what can be learned on the job and through training and learning opportunities.
For workers who had to leave the workforce during the pandemic or who felt their skills stagnate in 2020’s unusual work environment, training and skill enhancement are winning perks for workers who want to get back on track in terms of performance and career growth. For younger Gen Y and Gen Z workers, formalized and creatively digitized career pathing can be attractive because they offer the more frequent feedback and guidance younger and entry-level workers are hungry for as they determine their goals.
Increasing PTO Perks
While the ability to offer fully remote or hybrid work options depends on the kind of work a business does and the size and resources of the company, introducing or increasing paid time off (PTO) is a perk within the reach of most businesses. More PTO can go a long way in recognizing and supporting the need for greater flexibility and time to balance work and home life. Employment Enterprises has seen acceptance rates from job candidates and satisfaction numbers from existing workers jump with PTO perks enhancements.
Pick Two & Grow
Just as employers can’t meet every skill and requirement when it comes to the candidates they recruit, candidates can’t and don’t expect every perk and plus from employers. A good rule of thumb in strengthening employment offers today is to pick two solid, sought-after perks to focus on as an employer and shine a bright light on them. It will boost applicant numbers and retention, giving hiring managers a strong case for top candidates and employees to stay.