As 2021 draws to a close with Christmas now just around the corner, there seems to be a heightened sense of excitement in the air.
After last year’s celebrations were somewhat overshadowed by the pandemic, this year looks set to be the year we can make up for lost time with family gatherings and Christmas parties back on the agenda (all in a COVID-safe way, of course).
THESE ARE CHALLENGING TIMES
But, without wanting to put a dampener on things, it can’t be ignored that this year has brought with it some very challenging times for employers. The media has been filled with headlines relating to staff shortages, seen in our empty supermarket shelves and mile-long queues for petrol stations. The labour crisis looks set to stay for the foreseeable future, so for employers it’s simply not a case of riding out the storm.
The issues faced by employers are two-fold, firstly in attracting new talent but also in retaining the talent they already have.
THE JANUARY RECRUITMENT RUSH
January is typically known as one of the busiest months in recruitment; high numbers of vacancies are posted as jobseekers fuelled by new year’s resolutions flood into the market. Couple this with statistics showing that as many as 40% of the global workforce (according to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index) are considering leaving their current jobs, and it could equal a tricky month for employers.
DON'T DELAY, TAKE ACTION NOW
Employers – if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to take urgent action. You could have the best attraction strategy in the world, but if you’re not looking after the staff you already have, you’re wasting your time. Your staff are your biggest asset; they’re trained and they know your business. What’s more, the staff you already have could even help give you the edge when it comes to recruiting newbies too. If they love working for you, they’ll tell other people how much they love working for you. And peer to peer recommendation is a very effective form of money-can’t-buy marketing.
BUT WHAT DO MY EMPLOYEES REALLY WANT?
Let’s start with the obvious. You need to make sure you’re compensating your staff fairly and at least paying the market average for their role in your area. That said, with the rise of remote working, ‘your area’ could now mean benchmarking against firms much further afield. It’s not the be-all and end-all though, a good salary won’t compensate for a toxic culture, for example. It’s also important to note that salary reviews should be a continuous exercise, especially in a candidate driven market such as now.
Devising a benefits package which is going to suit everyone can be a pretty impossible task, which is why a flexible program might be best; allowing employees to pick and choose what’s relevant to them. Of course, for some smaller organisations with less buying power, fancy benefit schemes and online platforms might be cost-prohibitive but actually, what employees often want doesn’t have to come with any huge outlay. Extra holiday, flexible hours, flexibility when it comes to working from home etc. are all things which now rank highly on employee’s wish lists.
Culture is strongly linked to employee engagement – in that a positive culture is more likely to cultivate engaged employees – but they are not the same thing. Culture extends beyond employee engagement to the business processes and ‘how we do things’. It’s also much more difficult to measure and therefore, can be more difficult to fix if it’s not right.
Here, your existing employees are a key resource – so use them! They’re the ones on the ground, so listen to them and take on board their feedback.
Feeling valued is a huge contributor to employee engagement and as such, is something that employers need to work on continually to ensure it’s firmly embedded within their culture. With value, it can often be the little things that add up; recognising and rewarding good work, regular appraisals, treats like lunch or cakes on someone’s birthday, offering opportunities to develop and learn new skills etc. can all contribute to making an individual feel valued.
Last and certainly not least, more and more it’s emerging that individuals have a desire to work for an organisation whose purpose and mission aligns with their own beliefs.
If you’re an eco-friendly business on a mission to change the world, this might be easy to do! But if you’re not, it doesn’t mean you can’t foster a sense of purpose within your workforce. Sharing positive customer feedback so staff can see how their roles contribute to the overall success is one approach or giving more experienced staff opportunities to mentor others within the business is another.
Another way is to allow employees time to take part in charitable or other projects with benefit your community whilst also providing fulfilment for them.