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How to Recruit Top Talent (and Keep Them)

Recruit Top Talent

The challenge to recruit top talent has intensified. We are in one of the strangest labor markets in modern American history. The Washington Post reported on two economic anomalies: demand for workers came back stronger than ever while, despite companies going all out with hiring practices, millions of people chose to remain unemployed. Simultaneously the Great Resignation era dawned and top talent has been playing musical chairs with their employment in hopes of finally landing their dream job. So, how does a business recruit top talent and, more importantly, retain it?

Compensate Generously

The writing’s been on the wall for a while now. Smart employers have been gearing up for wage increases. According to the Conference Board, employers are setting aside an average of 3.9% of total payroll for wage increases in 2022, the largest increase since 2008.

“Right now, we are seeing salaries and hourly pay around 15 to 25% higher than it was six months ago,” Claire Reese, The HT Group’s Vice President of Sales, told us recently.

Many factors are in play when it comes to the demand for wage increases, but at the top is the increased cost of living. We’ve reached the fastest annual pace in about four decades as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our supply chain while consumer consumption has increased. In short, economic conditions are making it hard for people to make ends meet. Does that mean you need to keep pace with inflation? No (we explain this paradox to job seekers here). But you do need to keep pace with the competition.

Higher pay isn’t the only perk you can use to recruit top talent, either. The last two years have forced us to weave together work and life, changing the needs of many workers. To better support their employees, business leaders need to expand their benefits packages to match those needs.

Providing a variety of flexible benefits that can be utilized when the need arises has become increasingly important as people continue to struggle with work/life balance. For example, providing an allowance for home office supplies when remote work is necessary, fitness membership at a gym or via an at-home app, and access to mental health support services.

If you hire temporary or contract workers, offering the same benefits can be tricky. Partnering with a reputable staffing partner with enough resources—like The HT Group—can help by putting temporary workers on their payroll, which makes it possible to extend a full slate of benefits and perks, including unemployment. 

“We can shoulder that burden for you and take care of onboarding, training, and other administrative duties, too,” says Stephanie Grubbs, Regional Managing Director of The HT Group General Staffing Division. “So, as long as you can offer attractive pay and a good work environment, together we can check all the boxes that valuable workers want to see.” Learn more about how The HT Group makes it happen here.

Don’t Drag Your Feet

These days, the race to recruit top talent moves at warp speed—if you snooze, you lose. Top talent will not wait around for you to make a decision and extend an offer. Working with a recruiting partner can be a critical way to speed things up. Austin Business Journal recommends you review your recruiting process and make these changes to streamline it (reputable recruiting partners have each of these moves down pat) :

  1. Consider adding text and social media messaging as a way to communicate with candidates. Traditional emails or phone calls are considered too slow these days.
  2. Automated systems such as scheduling, onboarding, and candidate sourcing can eliminate a lot of back-and-forth that sucks valuable time away from the hiring process.
  3. Rethink your interview strategy and shorten the timeline from interview to hire. Employers should also use technology to their advantage and time block interviews when multiple people are involved.
  4. Make quicker decisions and be prepared to make offers that are quick and strong.

Align Your Company Culture with Your Recruiting Efforts

A company is only as good as its people. When you get it right, it’s like solid gold. But when you hire a bad apple, a team’s balance gets thrown off or morale is ruined.

To help improve your hiring, look past your candidates’ skills or experience and recruit prospects who align with your culture and will move your business forward. When you find recruits who share your company’s values and vision, the chances of them bonding with their team, being a productive member of your company, and staying with the company for the long haul are exponentially higher.

Be Clear About Work Arrangements

When it comes to buying a house or business property, location is the name of the game. But when it comes to hiring these days, does location really matter?

Office leases in major markets are up 89% compared to the fourth quarter of 2020 according to commercial real estate services firm Savills. The largest lease signed last quarter was Meta Platforms’ (formerly Facebook) newly signed lease for all the office space in a 66-story, mixed-use tower in Austin. Meta will be joined in downtown Austin by Google, who signed a lease for an entire 35-story tower.

You might assume this means that the big companies are moving away from a remote model, but it’s really an indicator that they’re doubling down on hybrid. Recruits will want to have a full understanding of your workplace policy to see where you stand.

“Many employees are much more productive and comfortable at home. But they also understand and appreciate office space for in-person collaboration,” says Dave Benjamin, Practice Director-Professional Services at The HT Group. “We are seeing the top job candidates putting at least a hybrid workplace (if not fully remote) at the top of their wish lists and they’re making it non-negotiable.”

Take Diversity and Inclusion Seriously

A core component of increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and creating a safe and equitable workplace starts with your recruitment strategy. Remember, your company is only as good as the people it hires. But recent studies show that while DEI is widely supported among executives and that they’re willing to back those efforts with funding, the picture begins to blur when it comes to how exactly those efforts will take shape. One such study reveals 51% of talent leaders don’t have a process for setting DEI goals with their hiring, leaving the door open for bias to creep into the recruiting process. We outline other challenges here.

“When it comes to diversity, every organization should be casting a broad net to catch a rich, resilient, varied bounty of talent,” says The HT Group Executive Advisor Michael K. Francis. He adds, though, that it takes consistent effort to transmit DEI efforts into muscle memory. Understanding how culture fit and diversity balance out is imperative to the process. Blindly hiring with a weak understanding of culture fit can lead to a workplace devoid of diversity. 

Focus on Retention from Day One

As with dating, first impressions make or break your ability to recruit top talent. Despite the competitive job market, take heed not to oversell your company, its culture, or the job you are hiring for. It’s not uncommon for an employee to quit a new job within 90 days of starting because they feel they were sold a bill of goods.

Job candidates have re-evaluated what they want their careers to look like and many now prioritize a job that will offer work/life balance that fits their lifestyle and/or family. This shift is forcing organizations to move their efforts from recruitment to retention. All departments from HR to leadership to management must show that corporate culture is the #1 priority. Some companies are going so far as to hire a Chief Retention Officer to ensure that new talent stays for the long haul.

To recruit top talent, companies must shift their focus to creating diverse workforces and fostering a culture where people want to work (for the long haul). New processes and procedures must be created and consulting with a qualified recruiting partner will help ensure you not only recruit top talent for your team but keep them around as well.