Hiring practices have not changed. Employers need to be creative
Our work habits and our relationship to work have radically changed over the past two years. Yet many companies are still trying to attract and retain people using the same approaches they took during one of the tightest job markets we’ve seen in decades.
Now we see the fallout of these contradictory approaches in the “Great Resignation” which apparently shows few signs of resignation itself.
We saw the lowest unemployment rate in 28 years in Australia in June at 3.5%, with some economists suggesting it could even fall below 3%. Vacancies have doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic.
So what should an organization do when it desperately needs great talent and is in competition with it?
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There are many other important and compelling levers that go beyond the obvious: competitive salary and bonus structures.
Indeed, one such lever is transparency and signaling active commitments to close the gender pay gap. We’ve seen examples of this recently among major consultancies, which publish salary levels in an effort to attract key talent and help close the gender pay gap. PwC released those figures in April, and KPMG also emailed its employees last month to reveal the lowest employee pay grade at each level, all in a bid to help attract staff. and to show that it is serious about closing the gender gap. Deloitte followed about a week later.
These are good examples of an immediate response in the professional services sector, which currently has thousands of jobs open across Australia.
All employers need to be creative
Companies of all sizes and in all sectors need to think about how they retain their staff – in addition to retraining them – and put measures in place to ensure that they do everything possible to provide a pleasant place to work. .
More importantly, companies must also ensure that they promote such measures and lead by example.
As our research and data on family-friendly workplaces tell us, promoting good workplace policies and procedures can have made a real difference in attracting staff and retaining team members.
We know that one of the first things a good portion of the talent pool will look at when considering applying for a role is what’s on offer to support their lives outside of work. This includes being able to work flexible hours, having more autonomy over where they work, and recognizing that life’s feel-good moments and other feel-good moments are important and must be taken into account and invested in
Reducing work-life conflict remains a common challenge that many employees struggle to achieve and they seek an employer who understands this challenge and is willing to help them achieve greater well-being at work and to personal life.
These candidates can search LinkedIn and other platforms to see what other company employees are saying about their work: including how they spend their free time, what purpose they pursue, what they say about work-life balance and any other clues that reveal their experiences about what it’s like to work there.
Candidates can look to diversity on leadership teams and boards, and look for publicly available information on gender goals.
But one of the first things they will do is research how flexible their work week will be. Since they may leave an existing flexible work environment for this new opportunity, return to the workforce after having children, or leave an existing employer due to a lack of flexibility, which they will discover on the flexibility will be everything.
Candidate priorities matter
Ultimately, applicants will be looking for a potential employer who can meet their immediate life priorities and personal goals.
McKinsey recently published research on what those priorities may include, undertaking a global study of six countries (including Australia) to identify five distinct talent pools and noting what the priorities are in each of those pools.
The discoveries are fascinating. They highlight the need for employers to take a multi-pronged approach if they want to attract and retain great talent. There is no single solution that will suffice to meet the available talent market.
The first thing to note from the McKinsey research is that the usual pay and career advancement carrots aren’t enough. From there, they named a number of key categories (with detailed explanations of their motivations and what helps them attract them provided here).
1. Traditionalists. This talent pool is “career oriented” and cares about work-life balance, but is willing to compromise for their job. Their motivations are competitive pay, job title, company status, and career advancement.
2. The handymen. This pool relates to autonomy and covers the largest part of the respondents to the survey. These workers value flexibility, meaningful work and pay, but ultimately flexibility above all else. McKinsey admits that attracting this cohort can be difficult for organizations, because in many cases they will have to show that what they offer will be better than what many of these workers have been able to create for themselves.
3. Caregivers and others. This pool is what McKinsey described as the cohort that sat at home. Some are actively looking for work, while others are passively looking for work and looking for the opportunity that may justify them re-entering the paid labor market. Always driven by compensation, flexibility is a top priority, alongside employee health and well-being and career development. A large part of the group has family responsibilities (for children, parents or themselves) and needs more flexibility than is usually offered in traditional employment. They may be attracted to companies that are willing to work their schedules: including part-time options, flexible hours, and four-day work weeks.
4. The idealists. This pool is generally made up of students and younger part-time workers, generally between the ages of 18 and 24. They are generally free of family responsibilities and mortgages. Compensation is lower on the list of priorities, with the cohort focusing on flexibility, career development and meaningful work.
5. Relaxants. This is the basin where the career no longer comes first. A mix of retirees, as well as those not looking for work, this group could be open to opportunities, given the right circumstances. Now, outside of traditional careers, money is less of a priority, so their motivations often focus primarily on the promise of meaningful work.
One thing that stands out clearly from at least four of these five talent pools is the need for flexibility. They are not looking for a traditional work week and environment. They want some control over their time and can define in advance how and when they can work without having to fill out an application form or ask for permission each time they choose to change their work habits.
It is no longer as simple as compensation. Employers must ensure that the flexibility they offer is real. That it is effectively picked up and demonstrated by senior managers and teams. They must ensure that team members feel they can progress while working flexibly, part-time or on four-day work weeks.
This research also clearly shows the value of meaningful, goal-oriented work, particularly to ensure jobs are “sticky” for team members and also to attract more top talent to their organizations. McKinsey suggests companies double down on what their employee value propositions really are and get serious about culture, purpose and values — and be “creative and authentic” in their approach to multiple pools. talent, because at the end of the day, “workers know the difference, and they vote with their feet”.
This article was first published by Women’s program.