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6 tips for employers in an employee’s market

It’s one of the biggest challenges for company leaders for the foreseeable future: being an employer in an employee’s market.

Post-pandemic, many people are reassessing their priorities and personal goals. Some employees are switching to companies that better align with their preferences, while others are changing careers entirely and starting over fresh. There’s a lot of churn in the job market and, therefore, high numbers of job openings. As a result, the market is tilted in favor of job candidates.

To avoid losing people to post-pandemic turnover, companies are wise to step up their efforts to keep employees happy, engaged and motivated. And, of course, to take advantage of this climate and attract talented people on the move, companies must also figure out how to outshine competitors. That’s why recruiting and retention are major focuses in an employee’s market.

At the same time, there are other activities that are critical to company leadership in maintaining business growth and success. For example:

  • Setting goals
  • Conducting analyses
  • Formulating strategy
  • Networking and promoting the company
  • Procuring new clients and industry partners
  • Expanding and scaling up operations
  • Growing market share
  • Scenario planning

But when seemingly everyone has a narrowed focus on all things hiring and retention, it’s easy to understand why employers feel the pressure to shift their focus almost exclusively toward recruiting activities. Having too narrow a focus, however, can potentially cause you to neglect these other critical areas.

So, how can business leaders better balance the hiring market frenzy equally with other major business needs? Here are six tips to help.

1.      Adopt the right mindset for these times

Change can be overwhelming and stressful. Many employers have had to re-evaluate and modify their strategies around recruiting, flexible scheduling, benefits, perks and more – all within a condensed period of time.

If recent events have left you feeling negative and reactive, try to shift your thinking in a more positive and proactive direction. For example:

Reactive, negative mindset: “Ugh, I have to make all these changes and it’s been so disruptive.”

Proactive, positive mindset: “Isn’t it exciting that I get to make all these changes and enact much-needed improvements within our workplace?”

A pro-employee job market is an opportunity for employers to engage in reinvention and renewal, to consider what’s most important to workers and to evolve for the better overall. Seizing this moment and fully taking advantage of it can yield benefits far into the future.

This isn’t just part of cultivating a mindset of resilience during times of transition and turmoil – this is a good way to approach each day in managing people and a business. In some form or another, change is constant, and you need to be able to adapt without completely losing focus on the bigger picture or becoming mired in negativity.

2.      Understand your business at its core

Company leaders should know “who” the company is and what the company stands for. You need to understand, at a deep level, all the constants about your business – the things that are always true despite the external environment, including your company’s:

  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Values

It’s also critical that you understand the state of your workplace culture and continually work on enhancing it. Your culture should embody values that employees and job candidates prioritize, such as trust, respect, empathy, transparency and leadership accessibility.

Why is all this important?

  • Focusing on culture proactively and regularly makes recruiting and retaining talented people much easier – your company will be better positioned to attract exceptional candidates.
  • Your initiatives will always be rooted in your larger purpose, making it easy to clearly explain to employees why your company is taking certain actions – or why not.
  • You can allocate your time more wisely and make better, more thoughtful decisions that land well with employees who expect meaningful, purposeful work.

The lessons:

  • Don’t offer employees a version of your company that’s out of alignment with your mission, vision, values, culture and brand identity.
  • Don’t operate in reactive mode and make knee-jerk decisions that won’t be sustainable for the long term. In the long run, these types of mistakes are more costly to correct.

With any new initiative you consider, whether hiring-related or otherwise, ask yourself whether it aligns with your company’s identity and culture, and what purpose it will serve in supporting or furthering your mission, vision and core values. Take the time to thoroughly evaluate each one.

3.      Integrate hiring strategies into your day-to-day interactions

Employee experience is everything when it comes to generating positive word of mouth (recruiting) and encouraging employees to stay put (retention). Fortunately, cultivating a positive employee experience doesn’t have to be a complicated, time-consuming activity that’s separate from everything else on your plate. It should be very much part of your day-to-day management of, and interactions with, people on your team.

Hiring and retention strategies shouldn’t be a drop-everything-to-figure-out situation that boils up when the job market favors employees. Becoming and remaining an employer of choice should be integrated into the foundation of your company.

4.      Be intentional in setting aside time to assess your organization’s position

Good time management is a must.

To prevent your schedule from becoming too overloaded with recruiting- and retention-focused meetings and tasks at the expense of other responsibilities associated with running an organization, be proactive. On your calendar, block out time each week to attend to your most critical tasks.

And for that matter, you can also block out time to analyze how you’ve been spending your time and where you need to focus more or less attention. If necessary, work with a coach on improving your time management.

5.      Delegate and outsource human resource tasks

The reality is, you can’t do everything yourself. You’re one person, and there are simply not enough hours in the day.

In a company leadership capacity, you should focus more on the bigger picture. Trust your team to handle the day-to-day issues that fall within their areas of expertise. But also recognize when it makes sense to get help. For example, navigating the complexities of an ever-changing HR regulatory landscape – while staying competitive as an employer – can be much less daunting with the guidance and support of dedicated HR professionals.

You may want to consider partnering with a professional employer organization (PEO). A reputable PEO can work with you to put the HR strategies in place to help you attract, develop and retain the best talent.

6.      Invest wisely in technology

Assess your organizational needs and make smart investments in HR technology.

Integrated HR technology can streamline daily tasks for you and your team, saving you time to focus on leadership-level matters and shift into a more strategic mindset.

For example, deploying an applicant tracking system can improve the recruiting process by:

  • Integrating the many parts of the recruiting process into one centralized database
  • Automating previously manual tasks
  • Keeping track of (often hundreds of) candidates and where they are in the process
  • Facilitating timely communication with candidates

Furthermore, most of today’s robust human capital management (HCM) systems store all HR information in one place for the entire employee lifecycle, again automating many tasks, enhancing efficiency and minimizing errors – so you can focus your attention elsewhere.

On a more general level, make sure that you’ve adopted videoconferencing, collaboration platforms and other relevant technologies that will make your employees’ day-to-day work easier and more enjoyable. The last thing you want to do is annoy or inconvenience your employees repeatedly with cumbersome, outdated technology and processes.

Summing it all up

Being an employer in an employee’s market seems like a common challenge right now. As a business owner or leader, you may feel pulled to focus exclusively on a major source of angst for you and your peers: recruiting and retention. But if you do the following things well, you can better balance all your core business responsibilities:

  • Assume a positive, proactive mindset about adapting to employee wants and needs.
  • Understand your mission, vision, values and culture – and don’t adopt any new recruiting or retention initiatives that deviate from this identity.
  • Don’t think of recruiting and retention initiatives as separate from your management responsibilities – they are connected.
  • Practice good time management and become adept at dedicating time on your calendar for all core responsibilities.
  • Delegate and outsource HR tasks.
  • Implement technologies that make your business more efficient.

For more information about cultivating a workplace primed for success – where candidates line up to join and employees never want to leave – download our free e-book: How to develop a top-notch workforce that will accelerate your business