Looking to round out your staff and maybe even expand a few areas of your business by adding new talent this year?
Well, good luck with that.
As we continue to move into 2022, factors like the Great Resignation, increasing hourly and salary requirements, and a myriad of other labor dynamics have made employee acquisition and retention incredibly challenging for business owners and the companies they run. And in a lot of ways, the numbers just don’t seem to add up. Two years into the pandemic, the U.S. unemployment rate hovers around 4%, suggesting saturation. But at the same time, businesses are experiencing a record number of vacant jobs.
According to Labor Department reports, there were a shocking 10.6 million open jobs in the U.S. at the end of November 2021 – and around 3.7 million more open jobs than people actually seeking employment. Yes, it’s tough being an employer right now.
Due to this incredibly volatile labor landscape and an under-enthusiastic labor pool, business owners are increasingly concerned about their ability to run and grow their organizations. But in the words of the late great Albert Einstein, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
Time to Differentiate Your Business
To attract and retain employees in this challenging market, it is time to reevaluate not just your business’s hiring and onboarding practices, but truly every aspect of what makes your workplace an appealing one to both jobseekers and your current team. If the only positive employment attribute you can think of in your business is competitive wages, you are selling yourself short and limiting your employee acquisition capabilities.
In fact, current economic and labor factors make this an incredible time to evaluate and align your business with the wants and needs of an evolving workforce. Putting in the elbow grease now can truly differentiate your business from your less employee-focused competition and poise your business for long-term positive trends in employee acquisition and retention.
But What About Salary?
Of course, competitive wages will always be an important part of the equation to attracting and maintaining top talent. In fact, there are many sectors in the current market, like construction, in which employee acquisition and retention is almost entirely dependent on wages alone.
However, the Great Resignation has taught business owners that money isn’t the only driving force in employee satisfaction, or in many cases, even the main one. Employees are now much more willing to supplement their steady income from their “real job” with the aptly termed “side hustle”, as long as they are happy and content in that real job.
It Starts with Company Culture
It is simple. Every business, whether they like it or not, currently possesses a pervading Company Culture. As a business owner, if you are unable to identify just what that culture is, it is time for you to open up the lines of communication.
You and your management team, if you have one, should consider sitting down one-on-one with every employee to discuss what they perceive to be both the positive and negative aspects of the current culture. What is their favorite thing about working in your environment? What is their least favorite? What is on their wish list for things like engagement, benefits, and employee development? What have they seen or heard of in other businesses that they would love to see implemented in your business?
In all likeliness, some employees will use these meetings as a gripe session. But that is fine too. Learning the pain points of individuals on your team provides you a better understanding of some of the often-unspoken challenges of negative workplace dynamics.
Be sure to record this insight and review it for clarity with the employee before ending the meeting, if necessary. You might also consider asking the employee to rank their answers by importance.
Create a Company Culture Worksheet
The complexity of a working Company Culture document is up to you, but it really doesn’t need to be overly fancy. Create a spreadsheet with that data you recorded during those employee one-on-ones. One column can include a list of positive work environment and culture attributes your employees shared. A second column could list qualities or challenges, while a third might include items on that wish list you discussed. Identify then highlight in yellow some of the recurring themes or great ideas.
Then it is time to do a little soul searching.
As you evaluate your Company Culture worksheet, ask yourself if there are positive characteristics that you can best enhance, encourage, and embrace. Are there negative characteristics that appear on this spreadsheet more than a few times? If so, why do you suppose that is? How about that wish list? Is your competition offering better perks or other attractions related to an enhanced workplace and Company Culture satisfaction?
Based on your spreadsheet, it is time to make your own list. Record what you deem to be the top five (or more) positive aspects of working for your business. Can you commit to incorporating some of those wish list items onto the list? Then record the top challenges your Company Culture faces, again based on the employee data you recorded.
There, you have a pretty good start.
Turn Feedback into Action
Geared with the knowledge of what your current employees like and don’t like about working for your business, along with your own list of what your business can reasonably offer, you can then leverage that information to attract new employees, not to mention retain the ones you already have.
- Incorporate the positive attributes into your Company Vision, Mission Statement, Employee Handbook, social media profiles, and website.
- Share your goals for Company Culture and your commitment to a positive workplace environment with your entire team. Get buy-in, however that might look to your team.
- Infuse your job postings with your enhanced messaging regarding Company Culture and positive workplace environment.
- Commit to continual attention and improvement regarding employee satisfaction.
- Address the challenges and be sure not to let negativity fester. It costs far more to acquire a great employee than it does to retain one.
- Ask your team for referrals. You might be surprised what a great resource your current staff is for recommending new hires.
Attracting Employees Is a Long-Term Endeavor
While all this Company Culture legwork might sound like a lot of effort, the ability to acquire and retain top talent is essential to the sustainability and growth of your business. Furthermore, the employee satisfaction information you gather now, and the effects of how you leverage it, can also positively support other aspects of your business down the line, like valuation and salability.
But most importantly, creating a positive environment in which people want to work for your business will always be a key ingredient for attracting top talent.