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The talent attraction challenge most companies are facing is not an HR problem. It’s a marketing problem. And if ever there was a time for HR to up their game in attracting (and retaining) the best talent, this is it. There are good people out there. But either they aren’t finding you, or you aren’t standing out as they swim in the sea of opportunity. Review your recruiting process against these tips. You might find the little bit of leverage that will make all the difference.
Hop on to this virtuous cycle. When a company has an engaging environment, people who work there are great people, which attracts other great people, which makes it a great place to work. It’s easier to hire the best talent if you have the best team. But how do you get the best team? It takes investment in mentoring and in training and relentless focus on talent.
How much money, time, and resources do you invest in keeping your equipment running smoothly? Do you schedule downtime for maintenance and repairs? Do that for people. Invest in upskilling and cross training. Gamify it. HR is about compliance – organizational development is about productivity. Invest in organizational development.
What problem are you trying to solve for the people you’re looking to hire? Yes, they need money. Maybe for necessities like food or housing. But they probably want more. Maybe they want to impress their neighbours? Or always fly business class for vacation? Or have the flexibility to attend little Suzy’s parkour demonstration. You need to pay people fairly for the work they do, but what can your company offer that differentiates you from your competitors beyond just money? Technology used to do this well. They needed to attract people that would work long hours on problems that required their focus. Yes, they paid them. But they also created campuses with incredible cafeterias and provided concierge service and personal trainers so the people that worked there could meet their other needs.
How much would it really cost for your company to provide great snacks in the break room? To arrange for a dry cleaner to pick up their laundry? To hire a babysitter to work in an empty office for a couple of hours to watch youngsters while their parents finish the last meeting of the day?
Maybe they don’t need to come into the office. Could the company invest in a vacation property that staff could win the use of via lottery? Free accommodation for a family vacation is a great perk. Could you add an extra week of vacation to every person by shutting down between Christmas and New Years? For two weeks in August? How much productivity would really be lost?
No one wants money. They want what money can buy. What do your ideal candidates want to buy with their money? Offer that.
If the usual fishing hole has dried up, it’s time to look for a new one. Find the industry that employs people with similar skillsets but pays a bit less or has a different lifestyle associated with it and recruit from that pool. Working in a kitchen can be gruelling work and means a lot of late nights and weekends. Maybe those kitchen staff would like to work construction, outdoors in the daylight. Still hard working, but a change. Those folks with master’s degrees in English? They’d make great proposal writers and could probably pump social media content on the side.
The best talent knows what they want, what they are good at, and what they want to be a part of achieving. How can they opt in to your company strategy if they don’t know what it is? A strong culture requires focused attention on strategy. Why you do what you do? What values delineate how your business operates? What do you hope to accomplish? If you don’t know, then your staff don’t know. If the staff don’t know the rest of the world definitely won’t know.
The consistent process part is both table stakes and rarely followed. A consistent process is documented, replicable across areas of the firm, and can be improved (because of the consistency piece). All positions don’t need the same process, but every organization should have one. Hiring labourers? Don’t worry about the interview as a first step. Bring them on to do a paid day of work. If they put their back into it, then it’s time to interview. Senior staff in marketing? Well, that’s different – we need to look at their portfolio along with their resume before we even think about an interview and testing their skills.
Once you’ve figured out a good process and it works, break it. Try new ideas, more outlandish ideas. State your hypothesis, try new ideas, and see if your hypothesis holds. If you are scientific in your approach, you just might turn your good process into a great process.
Which you can then break and improve again.
If you can’t find good people, you don’t have a recruiting problem. You have a marketing problem. Figure out what differentiates you as an employer and recognize it’s not basic compensation, or great dental benefits, or even a company vehicle. In a competitive market, all of those are table stakes. If you want the best people to fill the roles, you need to figure out your differentiators and then broadcast them consistently to the employment market.
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