Resources and Tips / Cracking the talent code: How to attract the right employees to level up your business

Cracking the talent code: How to attract the right employees to level up your business

By SME Institute

The post-pandemic reopening of the economy has created one of the tightest talent markets in recent history. Both globally and in Canada, unemployment is at a multi-decade low and the hiring market is the most competitive it’s been since at least the 1970s.

In such a strong job market, employees are looking for more than just job security and decent compensation. Increasingly, job seekers are looking for companies with corporate cultures that align with their values, and are showing a preference for employers that are invested in the same things they believe in. This is especially true for millennials, who now make up the majority of the workforce.

Workers are also seeking more flexible working hours and better work/life balance, opportunities for growth and development, and companies that stand out when it comes to benefits and perks.

After several decades of the shoe being on the other foot, it’s certainly a lot for employers to adjust to. Read on to learn how to attract the right talent to level up your business.

  1. Lean into your brand

    Get noticed by potential hires by promoting a vibrant company culture. That includes a culture of belonging, flexibility and growth. In one study, 46% of employees said their top need when job seeking was working in a place where they feel valued and appreciated.

    Canvas your existing staff to learn about what excites and energizes them about the company. Leverage them as ambassadors for your brand, by sharing the job posting through their networks, or on LinkedIn.

    Make sure your social media branding is consistent with your values. Share what makes you passionate about your work, your product, or the service your company provides. Genuine enthusiasm is a powerful recruitment tool.

    Seek to be acknowledged in a “Best Places to Work” ranking. There are often local associations that take applications. Simply going through the application process can help you think a lot about why you think people would want to work at your company.

  2. Offer opportunities for growth and development

    Today’s job seekers continue to value internal career mobility more and more – in other words – they want to know there is a clear path of career progression for them in the organization they choose to work for. Millennials especially are prioritizing opportunities for growth, even over compensation in certain circumstances.

    Be specific and use positive language in your job description and interview process. Be prepared to answer questions like “what learning and development opportunities do you offer?” and “what mentorship opportunities are available?”.

    Give examples of career progression paths for current members of the organization. Have a plan for how a new hire will develop the skills they need to progress to the next level. Talk about how you recognize your existing staff.

    Employees tend to be happier, healthier and more engaged when they’re supported to learn new skills and given new opportunities, so not only will a solid growth plan help you attract good candidates, it will also help you keep the talent you already have.

  3. Encourage a healthy work/life balance

    Today’s young workforce values work/life balance more than previous generations. To appeal to the best talent available, it pays to be flexible when it comes to working hours and schedules.

    If you’re willing to be flexible, indicate so on the job posting, and be prepared to have a constructive discussion with potential candidates about how it will work in practice. Flexible working hours are not only popular with job seekers, but two-thirds of managers in one study reported an increase in productivity after a shift to flexi-working.

    One Toronto-based SME, for example, decided during the pandemic that they wanted to show appreciation for their staff by giving them back some of their time. What started as a temporary trial, with workdays ending at noon every Friday, quickly became permanent company policy when it proved overwhelmingly popular and didn’t impact productivity. The “Longer Weekend” policy is now a key part of the business’ recruitment strategy as they seek to expand.

  4. Offer unique perks

    In certain industries, particularly tech, employees have come to expect subsidized or free drinks and healthy food options. This is certainly not the standard for all SMEs, but simply having some fruit or protein bars available can go a long way towards making potential hires feel that the workforce is looked after and treated well. Having an onsite cafeteria where staff can interact is a big win too, as it can lead to increased morale and encourage mental health breaks during the day.

    Fringe benefits are not limited to snacks and drinks of course. Many employers now offer lifestyle allowances as part of their benefits package. These can be used on gym memberships or recreational activities or equipment. Like healthy snacks, reimbursements for lifestyle expenses show employees that the company cares about their mental health and physical well-being.

    Smart recruiters target their fringe benefits to the position they are seeking to fill. A candidate for a more senior position might be more interested in child care assistance or vacation allowances, while a younger candidate might prioritize social benefits.

  5. Embrace diversity in your hiring process

    Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is an inclusive approach that values the qualities and backgrounds that make individuals unique, such as race, age, religion, disabilities and ethnicity. A DEI-centric hiring plan will not only help you attract the best talent available, but also improve the performance of your team: numerous studies have shown that companies with more diverse management teams have higher revenues, are more likely to be innovative, and are better at problem solving.

    Ask yourself if there are any implicit biases in your job descriptions or interview processes. Are there any elements that are biased against certain parts of your community?

    Global companies with leading talent management programs are working quickly to implement and strengthen their DEI plans. The lesson: if you want a more diverse candidate pool, eliminate the barriers in your hiring practices.

    Putting all these elements together will help you strengthen your recruiting pitch and make your business more attractive to potential employees. Time to level up!

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