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Hiring is the #1 topic we are hearing about in the Solution Center, and it’s been this way for months.
It is no secret that many companies are struggling to attract and retain employees. With how much we’ve seen this issue come up lately, we realized we needed to start thinking outside the box and explore new ways to draw employees in. When you’re already offering what many consider “the basics”, such as higher starting salaries, medical and retirement benefits, and paid time off, what else is left?
As the hiring landscape changes, the basics are no longer the stars of a competitive benefits package. Employees are looking for benefits that have their well-being and growth in mind.The advisors in the Solution Center are not only receiving questions about hiring each day but are also hearing from employers who have ideas of their own on how to help their hiring process.
We sat down and fleshed these ideas out from an HR perspective, and brainstormed a few of our own. While some of these ideas are not feasible for every company, we hope that they can spark an initiative for a benefit of your own or be adjusted so that they can fit your practice.
First, we looked at job listings. Where are you advertising? Even if you’ve been using the same method for years, now is the time to be more creative in recruitment strategies. LinkedIn and Indeed should be go-tos.
Do you have the ability to provide relocation assistance? Even a couple thousand dollars can be a game changer, and this allows you to expand the area in which you are searching for employees.
Next, we looked at fringe benefits. One of the biggest factors we’ve seen affecting the hiring process is childcare. Benefits related to childcare can be a huge draw for new employees and can help retain current team members.
Another benefit that we offer at CEDR that has proven to be highly effective is a dependent care program. With this, employees can put a designated amount of money from each paycheck to use towards caring for dependents. These are tax free dollars that employees can then use to pay for childcare.
A few of our members have floated the idea of stipends. These could be in the form of childcare stipends, or even reimbursement for travel to and from work. Typically, we would advise against stipends since they can be difficult to administer. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t be done. The key to compliant stipends is to ensure that they are consistently offered to employees in a way that doesn’t inadvertently discriminate against an employee with protected considerations. If you are considering offering a stipend, reach out to your trusted HR partner, CPA or tax law specialist, or if you are a CEDR member, one of our Solution Center Advisors for further assistance.
Referral bonuses can also be a good way to bring in new talent, with the added perk that they already have a relationship with a current employee. Ideally, your current employees would only be referring top talent that would be a good fit for the office. If you do set up a referral program, we recommend splitting up the total amount and paying each part out after a designated amount of time.
A common system we see is the first half paid out after the new employee has been there for three months and the second half after six months. You could change the amount of time to your liking, but keeping it split into payments will increase the chances of both employees staying on longer.
Ambitious people want to work for companies that encourage and support their professional development. Providing continuing education opportunities as a standard benefit can help attract applicants and retain current employees. This might look like paying for CE events you’re familiar with, or even providing “tuition” reimbursement for courses employees chose to take on their own.
Encouraging and supporting employees also ties into employee engagement. As long as employees are feeling disengaged at work, turnover will stay high. And employee engagement goes beyond the occasional pizza party or staff outing. Are you communicating efficiently with your employees? Do you listen to their suggestions and complaints? Do you check in to see how they need help when short staffed or overwhelmed? These may seem like obvious yeses, but the truth is many employers fall short when it comes to creating an employee-employer relationship in which the employee feels heard and supported.
This doesn’t mean that every idea or change that an employee requests is right or should be implemented, but it does show you are willing to engage in conversations involving more than day to day tasks. You might consider setting aside dedicated time to have one-on-one meetings with your direct reports to help facilitate a clearer touchpoint for communication, as well as build trust and rapport with the team.
We also talked about the benefit of casting a wider net when picking applicants to fill the position you’re looking for. You don’t need to bring them all in for interviews at the same time but having a pool to pick from will make it much easier to find new candidates if your first choice takes a position elsewhere.
Similarly, if another employee suddenly quits or is let go, you now have candidates that you can consider right away instead of having to wait for more to apply. It’s important to treat all candidates respectfully, even when not selected initially for a position, as you may decide going forward that someone who was previously not a good fit now is a strong choice for another opening.
And circling back to the point of an employee resigning, we find that sometimes with further discussion about the reason provided for resignation, you and the employee might reach a conclusion together that they can still work, but in an adjusted capacity. What would have been a complete separation initiating the hiring process, might actually turn into a great compromise that saves you time and money and helps you retain a qualified employee familiar with your processes.
Finally, our last piece of guidance is to consistently follow your handbook policies, but don’t use your policies as a substitute for engaged management. We have seen countless cases of business owners reaching out to change their policies because they don’t like the way one employee is using them. While it’s fully up to your discretion when you change your policies and why, keep in mind that employees may see constant changes as a continuous effort to deny previously provided benefits or to single someone’s actions out.
Consistent application of your management practices helps build trust. Continuous, arbitrary policy changes break trust. Furthermore, when it comes to your policies, we talk a lot about reasonable policy application and flexibility. Conversely, there are areas where you might opt to be more flexible that what your policy specifically states in writing, such as considering more bereavement leave for a team member who has lost a close family member. Your policies are important for many reasons– they provide structure and clarify expectations, as well as outline your legal compliance with important labor laws. But remember that your direct reports are humans, just like you.