In less than two years, the U.S. unemployment rate swung from an all-time high to a labor shortage. In November 2021, a record 4.5 million Americans quit their job. This drastic shift has companies scrambling to recruit, hire and train employees to maintain productivity. Regardless of the labor statistics, it is critical to understand what candidates are seeking and what it takes to retain talent.
While competitive compensation is fundamental, job seekers and employees are also looking for a well-rounded employer. As the CEO of a company with nearly 300 employees and more than 20,000 independent service partners, I work closely with our HR department to create a corporate culture where employees and partners are valued and, as a result, become ambassadors for our organization.
Leadership’s approach to the hiring process and employee retention should mirror many critical elements that job seekers are looking for in 2022. Here are five key areas to consider:
While networking events, in-person meetings and team activities are valuable, the pandemic made it clear that employees can also be productive in a work-from-home environment. Before the pandemic, full-time attendance in an office or cubicle was typically mandatory five days a week. However, with sustained and often improved productivity, a flexible remote or hybrid approach could attract candidates from more regions and expand the talent pool.
Flexibility is no longer just a health and safety decision. Employees can work in physical offices some days, while other times, they can use tools and technology to produce, learn and grow remotely. According to a survey by Bain & Co. (via Bloomberg), U.S. workers indicate that flexibility is tied for second as the most significant motivator when evaluating a job, landing only behind compensation and benefits.
2. Inclusiveness And Transparency
With so much uncertainty in 2020, transparency from leadership was critically important to employees early in the pandemic. At my company, we didn’t hold back on what we disclosed to our team, and we plan to continue to overcommunicate our goals, mission and vision in the future.
Leaders should ensure that communication and messaging with all departments across all company levels is honest and authentic. Don’t just encourage feedback; ask for it from every employee. Communication and trust will strengthen in both directions once employees understand the “why.”
Equality goes far beyond following the laws against discrimination. It is about supporting and valuing differences among all of your team—whether those differences relate to gender, race, age, differing abilities, education, religion or orientation. Companies must proactively embrace diversity in an environment where learning, training and growth are available to all employees.
A variety of backgrounds leads to different perspectives, outlooks, creativity and discussion. New ideas are generated in a workplace that is safe and encouraging for all. Ultimately, fostering an equality-minded environment will improve a company’s ability to grow and relate to all backgrounds.
To build a community, companies must focus on internal goodwill and external philanthropy. Internal goodwill means taking a holistic approach to caring for your employees, whether on or off the clock. During the pandemic, my company, for example, found ways to impact employees and their families with virtual cooking classes and enrichment programs for our employees’ children.
External philanthropy should be part of the mission for any profitable business as well. For instance, my company integrates partner and employee participation to help guide where company time and resources are donated. Partners and employees often select donation beneficiaries in local communities where our employees and partners reside.
Each point above contributes to creating a desirable corporate culture that job seekers want to join and employees value. Building and maintaining culture is a daily mindset that aligns with strategy. A great culture requires a clear mission with the ability to address dysfunction.
With the right recipe of flexibility, inclusiveness, transparency, equality, philanthropy and culture, the quality of an employer’s candidates will expand, and more inspired employees will arise. The impact can be tangible. According to another study by Bain & Company (via Harvard Business Review), inspired employees are 125% more productive than an employee who is just “satisfied,” which means a motivated employee can produce as much as 2.25 satisfied employees.