Thursday, 10 January 2019

Companies are finding that they need to work harder to attract and retain talent in a tight labor market.

The U.S. unemployment rate dipped to 3.9 percent in August. Meantime, the rate of people quitting their jobs jumped to 3.6 million in July, more than double the 1.6 million layoffs for the month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The high number of people voluntarily leaving their jobs is an indicator that people are shopping for better jobs and appear confident they can find one.

Given the statistics, it's not surprising that finding and retaining employees has been challenging. In an annual survey of global CEOs, about three-quarters said they see the search for key skills as the biggest business threat and say they are taking steps to attract the talent they need. This has been the same goal for years, indicating that not many companies are making the changes they need to.

Winning the talent war means making internal changes not only to bring in new talent but also to retain and leverage existing talent. With that in mind, here are seven strategies companies have successfully used.

Focus on retention

Having the best people on the job is about more than recruiting, it's also about keeping and developing the employees you already have. Losing existing talent means lost productivity and institutional knowledge.

Engage and develop current employees

Paying attention to career development of current employees is good for both morale and productivity. Investing in training for employees boosts the likelihood that they'll stay with the company and increases their productivity. A recent Vistage survey found that one of the top ways companies are tackling hiring issues is by training existing workers to qualify for new higher level positions.

Raise wages

Raising wages, along with training existing employees, is a classic way to recruit top talent. A recent Gallup poll found that 44 percent of employees said they would consider taking a job with a different company for a raise of 20 percent or less. But higher pay in and of itself isn't enough, companies need to keep employees engaged as well.

The Gallup poll also found that only 37 percent of “fully engaged" employees would consider leaving their job for a raise of 20 percent while 54 percent of disengaged employees would do the same.

Improve benefits

Much like raising wages, competing on benefits can give companies an edge. Benefits such as healthcare, 401(k) matching, parental leave or vacation time are important to existing and prospective employees. Though there's been headlines about the increasing popularity of snack bars, game rooms, or gyms, especially at tech firms, those are more perks, not a replacement for solid benefits such as healthcare.

Bulk up recruitment efforts

Top talent is usually not actively looking for new positions, so companies need to continually work on recruitment and create a pipeline of potential hires. These days, putting out a generic ad on a job posting site won't go very far.

Social media sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook are increasingly important for recruiting. That means companies need to reach out to candidates on the channels and use social media to stir up interest in their company and available positions.

Build relationships with candidates

Many company career websites just show just the bare basics with listings of job openings. Social media handles could also be fairly bare. That's a missed opportunity when it comes to attracting top talent. Career pages are a chance to reach out through branded content that provides information about specific roles and encourages candidates to leave their information for follow-up.

Companies can also leverage social media to feature content or existing employees, positioning them as brand ambassadors. Companies that are able to create and nurture talent pools, whether through the website or other means, are a step ahead.

Rethink human resources

Human resources can make improvements to improve the quality of their interaction and aim to treat employees more like consumers. One place to start could be by providing more comprehensive high tech and in-person support during common situations such as joining a company, transferring roles, and answering questions about payroll or parental leave.  Anticipating questions, such as these, creates a better experience.  

HR can also use analytics to uncover trends such as likelihood of employee attrition after several years without a manager title and help to improve workforce performance.

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