Competition for the best employees is fierce, which has led to a war for talent. Companies are now faced with a dual challenge – attracting top talent to join their organizations while providing enough motivation to retain their best employees. As different employees are attracted by different incentives, this makes the task even harder. There is no one-size-fits-all policy.
However, there is some common ground when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, and much research has been done in this area. What’s clear across the board is just how important it is for any company to find the best employees and keep them. So what are the most effective ways to do this?
The majority of the research into attracting employees and retaining them points to the importance of company culture. A top priority should be creating a workplace culture and environment that appeals to the talent you are looking to attract.
Your employer brand relates to how employees perceive you, much like a customer would. Having strong employer brand values such as nurturing employees, providing career advancement opportunities, being sustainable and fostering workplace learning all help to attract future hires. The way you brand yourself as employer is on par with how you brand yourself to consumers and partners.
While a competitive salary is an important lever, so too is giving employees the opportunities to grow and learn in their jobs. Learning programs that allow them to develop new skills and transform their careers are powerful tools, especially when it comes to retaining talent.
Offering career enhancement opportunities is vital, but it’s also crucial a company makes new hires aware of them. This is why experts recommend putting these features in job descriptions when hiring. You can also encourage existing employees to share their learning experiences on social media to help promote your corporate culture externally.
There are many ways to create a culture of learning within a company. One simple way is ‘lunch and learn’ sessions. These are short sessions that dive into a range of subjects and bring a social element to learning. Identifying quick learners and rewarding them also helps cultivate a strong learning culture.
Other ways include setting aside an hour a week for a learning activity and allowing employees to bring their own devices and learning apps to work.
The COVID-19 pandemic encouraged a more flexible style of working, and many companies have continued to offer remote working options to employees as they rethink work–life balance.
Flexible working is now seen as a right for employees, rather than an attractive perk. Those with young families really appreciate flexibility when it comes to working, which means that a failure to offer it could be to the detriment of your attraction and retention goals.
Flexible working isn’t just about whether staff are in the office or at home, though. It also refers to more flexibility in the hours employees work, allowing some to start or finish later or earlier depending on their preferences. Job sharing, part-time and four-day working weeks are all options to offer employees looking for flexibility in their roles.
Research has shown that when people change jobs, almost half of them do so because of concerns about the lack of opportunities for career advancement. Good employees look for new challenges. If they can’t find them at their current employer, they will look elsewhere. Therefore, firms need to think harder about the career paths that entry-level employees can take.
While all generations value career progression, gen Y and Z employees are particularly keen to grow their careers. Promoting from within also helps employees feel recognized for their efforts and can have a significant impact on retention. And hiring externally costs more than promoting from within, so it makes clear financial sense to train and promote the staff you already have.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a war for talent in many in-demand sectors. But the health scare caused many employees to rethink their careers and their attitudes to work, leading to what has been termed the Great Resignation. It became easier to work remotely, become a freelancer or change career. At the same time, hiring became more difficult. The Great Resignation was a wake-up call for employers to do more to retain their staff.
While it has always been more expensive to hire new employees than to keep current ones, the time and effort needed has risen in a post-pandemic work environment. Financial incentives like bonuses and performance-related pay are still vital to attract and retain top talent, but this is not the only consideration for either prospective or current employees.
It takes time to build a culture where employees feel fulfilled and valued, and given opportunities to grow as well. This involves a series of small steps to transform the workplace into an environment for learning, growth and new opportunities. While a long-term commitment is necessary, the result will be a workplace culture where employees are fulfilled, engaged and enthusiastic about building a career.