Over the last few years, there’s been a significant shift in attitudes towards workplace culture, which has been compounded by the current COVID-19 pandemic. This has resulted in certain sectors struggling to recruit new and existing talent. Coupled with the great resignation we’re seeing as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, industries are increasingly turning to recruitment agencies and their networks to find the right candidates. So, what’s going on? Are people really moving away from the traditional way of working, or could it be that other factors are at play? At Blue Chip we have noticed these changes and believe the issues are rooted in a few key areas of the recruitment process...
The Hiring Process
The Jobvite Recruiter Nation Report shows that the two top priorities for both in-house and agency recruiters in 2022 are improving the quality of hire and improving the time it takes to hire. For many years there has been a lack of awareness from companies about how candidates experience the hiring process, instead, they’re concerned only with making it work for them. Many companies talk about positive corporate culture in job adverts but fail to take into consideration the importance of a positive hiring process. This often results in a protracted and difficult experience for candidates. Office Vibe has shown that 64% of applicants would share negative application experiences with friends and family, 27% would actively discourage others from applying for roles within the same company, and 60% have quit a too-long application process. Ouch. So, what does this mean for companies?
Fixing a broken hiring process typically rests on two key areas - candidates’ time and the interview itself. Treating candidates’ time with the same value as that of the interviewers is a small but vital step in creating a positive experience from day one. A simple change to make is to respond to every applicant, even if it’s with an automated response outlining when they can expect to hear from you. Another relatively easy fix is, instead of running a process that stretches over several days and involves a large amount of travel and disruption for the candidate, to reduce the number of interviews to as few as possible. Instead of meeting their potential direct Line Manager and Senior Management on different days, why not organize a recruitment day whereby everyone meets all on the same day. It’s intense but involves much less to- ing and fro-ing for the candidate, thereby improving their overall experience. Another option is including video interviews as part of the process - as everything went online during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, people became more comfortable with using video technology in their professional lives. Why not utilize these skills and conduct video interviews as part of the initial stage of the hiring process to help cut down candidate travel time?
Another key area for consideration is the interview itself. Often candidates feel as though they’re undergoing an inquisition during interviews, putting them under unnecessary stress and pressure, resulting in those who are best at interviewing being taken on as opposed to those who are best for the job. Instead of treating candidates with suspicion and trying to catch them out, flip the script and use the interview as an opportunity to discover their strengths and get to know them. This helps further down the line too because it means you get the best people who will contribute positively to company culture. By varying your interview process and techniques you’ll see someone’s true colors.
Assess your benefits
It’s a sad reality that many companies are not providing competitive benefits packages and are losing out on top talent as a result. From a Bureau of Labor and Statistics March 2020 report, there are some interesting observations about the importance of benefits with today’s workforce. It’s important to assess whether the benefits you’re offering are in line with or exceed those of your direct competitors. We often see companies losing out to those that pay 100% medical or offer comprehensive healthcare plans, and unlimited paid time off - this is especially true in the tech sector which has done much to revolutionize company benefits. For many, COVID-19 has created an entirely new belief system that centralizes on flexibility, and the old way of 1 week of paid time off per year worked simply is not acceptable anymore. Candidates are shopping around to find companies that offer the flexibility they crave.
A significant change in approach is needed to shift from a culture of presenteeism to that of productivity. It’s true that although many of us were traditionally expected to work from the office 9-5 (or longer) we actually rarely fully switch off and it is common to check emails and take work calls into the evening. With this in mind, offering true flexible working allows people to capitalize on their most productive hours and shows that you’re truly embodying a culture of trust, not just talking about it. Another key shift that we observe is candidates moving away from being attracted by remuneration alone. It’s not enough to be offering the highest salary anymore, candidates are looking to join companies with a culture that fits with the things that matter to them while also offering the flexibility they desire.
We've advised some of our clients to offer 100% medical and true flexibility, in fact, we at Sales Recruiters have adopted that ourselves. We know that one of the best ways to keep our top talent is by offering something our competitors aren’t because it makes it significantly harder for them to be tempted away.
Your vision and values
Candidates have a sixth sense when it comes to whether companies have their best interests at heart and are more unlikely than ever to join a company if its vision and values do not match their own. Many candidates are researching, reviewing, and developing opinions based on online company reviews. These company reviews help create observations of culture. An interesting observation is that almost 2⁄3 of candidates are conducting research into the company before applying. This is being perceived and creating positive online information about your company. This is especially important when you consider that half of all candidates are unwilling to work for a company with a bad reputation.
This is especially true in sales where candidates are often used for their book of business alone. If you’re hellbent on a candidate bringing their book of business with them from their current employer and not doing so is a dealbreaker, candidates know you don’t really care about them. The reality is that a candidate’s ability to traverse through the market is far more important than their book of business because it’s this that gives them the edge with clients and allows them to develop an enviable book of business to start with. Companies that focus solely on this aspect typically have a high staff turnover, unhappy staff, and are not compassionate when it comes to life outside of work. How focused a company is on a candidate’s book of business gives you great insight into their wider culture.
The majority of Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work 2021 list feature reviews citing a good work/life balance, a focus on employee wellbeing, and how supported staff felt and continue to feel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Underestimate the importance of candidates who feel aligned with your company culture at your peril - there are companies I struggle to recruit from because they have such a positive company culture employees don’t want to leave; on the flip side, there are also companies that I know I can easily recruit from because employees feel zero loyalty. Truly caring about your employees and their happiness makes it incredibly hard for people to leave.
Artificial Intelligence during the process
Artificial Intelligence and automated hiring systems have their place and can be an excellent way to organize candidate information. The problem, as noted in a September 2021 article by The Wall Street Journal is that Applicant Tracking Systems and Customer Relationship Management Systems are often filtering out candidates unnecessarily. According to research conducted in an October 2021 study by Harvard Business School, more than 10 million candidates are filtered out by such systems, seriously reducing the pool available to companies. This means organizations are missing out on top talent purely because their resumes and application summary submissions do not contain the right buzzwords, or they have an easily explainable gap in employment. Automated hiring systems like Applicant Tracking Systems and Customer Relationship Management Systems can be an excellent way to manage applications, but they should never be used in replacement of a recruiter, whether in-house or from an agency.
In conjunction with the issue of automated hiring systems, there’s also the question of active versus inactive candidates. The reality is that many of the best candidates simply aren’t active on the market and aren’t responding to job advertisements, thereby reducing companies’ chances of attracting the top talent even further. A good recruiter understands that the best candidates need to be sought out and will maintain strong relationships within their network to do so. It’s this that allows them to fill positions with the right people.
As much as remuneration is not the be-all and end-all for candidates, competitive wages do matter and can often play a deciding role in whether they proceed with an application or not. The reality is that candidates often have a figure in mind when considering changing positions and this is even more true during a talent shortage. According to CNBC, there are multiple factors contributing to this labor shortage. Showing your employees that you value them doesn’t have to break the bank. An example, my high school son’s employer recently reviewed the value of the employees in the local labor market compensation trends. This informal yet effective exercise allowed the owner to determine local pay rates and structure. My son received a 25% raise. The business owner understood that keeping an employee who does a good job and is an asset to the company costs less than hiring someone new. My son drives past countless “we’re hiring” signs on his way to and from work every day but never considers leaving because he feels valued and is paid market- competitive rates.
If your company is paying at the bottom end of the market and experiences high staff turnover, it’s likely that low wages are playing a part. In a 15-year-old study from 2005 (that is still relevant today) MIT Sloan Management Review found that hiring someone new resulted in lost productivity of between 1% and 2.5% of total revenues, this figure is likely even higher now. That’s just lost productivity for the individual alone, without factoring in the actual cost of advertising the position, time taken out of management’s diary to conduct interviews, the training budget, or anything else associated with the hiring process. It shows that the importance of paying competitively cannot be underestimated, especially in a market where labor is tight. This is extremely timely in today’s labor market.
There are four main areas to consider when assessing whether you’re attracting the top talent - the hiring process itself, your benefits, company culture, whether the automated system you’re using is fit for purpose, and the wages you offer. The top tips? Don’t use an automated candidate system for screening, leave it to a professional; respond to every applicant; communicate with the people who apply, and you’d like to take forward; treat candidates with the same respect you’d expect yourself; and, when working with a recruiter, the more time you spend with them the better. On this note, it’s often believed that using multiple recruiters to fill the same position will result in more candidates and a faster hire; the issue is that if a candidate receives multiple calls about the same position, it makes your company look desperate and can be a real turnoff. Instead, focus on developing a trusting relationship with your recruitment consultant so you know they’ll only bring you the best available candidates.
What do you have to lose? Top talent is just a click away.
What do you have to lose?
Top talent is just a click away.