The pandemic has disrupted where work occurs and what employees want out of their jobs. To attract talent and keep people from leaving in a hybrid world, talent acquisition and HR teams must rethink their workplace culture.
This challenge is compounded by the huge percentage of workers looking to change locations. Last year, Microsoft found in 2021 that 46% of workers whose jobs allowed for remote work were planning to move. While that percentage dipped this year, Microsoft also found that 30% of respondents are considering a move even if they have to quit their job to do so. Simply put, the ideal culture that has attracted talent in the past won’t work with people looking for flexible work.
In our recent webinar, CareerPoint’s founder and CEO, Steve McIntosh, and Carmen Hudson, senior director of talent acquisition at ExtraHop, shared the elements companies need to create a winning hybrid talent strategy that attracts and retains high-quality talent.
Provide Reasonable Salary and Compensation
Inflation is high, including for food, energy and housing. In June 2022, the inflation rate rose to 9.1%, the highest rate in over 40 years. Higher prices have forced people to find creative ways to increase their income and save more. While remote work has reduced expenses for some people, it’s not always enough.
“We have sort of a market that may be heading into a decline, and we have salaries that are being pushed upward. And so I don’t know at what point any of this will give, but we have employees who are demanding that we look at our salaries much more carefully,” Carmen shares.
Most remote and hybrid workers like their setup, in large part because they can also prioritize other elements of their lives. However, they still need a salary that aligns with industry standards and their local cost of living. And financial stress has affected many workers, whether physically, emotionally, mentally or socially. According to the 2022 PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey, only 42% of participants said their compensation has kept up with the cost of living.
Some companies view remote workers as a way to save money on compensation, but the better approach is to pay them reasonable salaries and elevate other benefits. “One thing that plays into the remote versus in person is that if your salary is worth less, then other things have to be worth more,” Steve explains.
Prioritize the Four P’s of Talent Acquisition
As a veteran of the talent acquisition world, Steve has always considered talent acquisition through four P’s: package, place, purpose and prospects. These elements are essential for employers to keep in mind when working to attract and retain talent.
Package refers to “your remuneration and your health insurance benefits, and so on,” says Steve. Every employee cares about the benefits package, whether they are working remotely, in-person or hybrid.
Free weekly lunches and other such perks are no longer enough. Employees want companies that will invest in them rather than look at them as just a number. Your benefits package should also be adapted to the work structure and location of your employees.
For hybrid workforces, for example, a benefits package could include a stipend for a work-from-home setup and covering the costs of work-related travel. The more your benefits package aligns with employee needs, the more success you’ll have in recruiting and retention.
Place describes where an employee works, whether that’s hybrid, remotely or on-site. “That’s a huge part of the value proposition for employees and for candidates,” Steve says. Millions of Americans are working from home or looking for remote positions, although some large companies such as Netflix have required employees to return to the office.
Flexible work is increasingly important to many workers, especially those reprioritizing their well-being and seeking schedules that enable that lifestyle.
Some workers can find it difficult to readjust to in-office work schedules after being remote throughout the pandemic. Hybrid schedules can ease this transition while acknowledging and accommodating your employees’ needs so that they can be at their most productive.
“People want to work for a company that has a socially driven mission, that makes a positive impact in the world,” says Steve.
A recent study by Gartner found that 56% of people want to contribute more to society since the pandemic began. At work, this mindset means employees increasingly want to understand the “why?” behind their work and how it contributes to the values and mission.
Employees, regardless of their work location, want to be at organizations that values diversity, gives back to society and contributes to the greater good. Employers can demonstrate this not only through values statements but also through actions.
“They want to work for companies that can show that they’re doing the right things for ESG,” Steve notes. This means that robust environmental, social and governance reporting can also be an effective recruiting tool, as potential hires can see the company’s purpose in action.
Ensure that your values and mission are clear. When job candidates go through your interview process, they are also assessing the who, what and why of your company.
“When I was in recruitment, I used to ask clients, ‘What would the next job after this one be?’ So I’m asking the client, and most of the time, they don’t have a good answer to this,” Steve says. “And the reason was that they just hadn’t thought — ‘Well, we’re trying to fill this job.’ So that’s what their focus is.”
Hiring teams are trying to find and onboard talent, which is important. But companies can’t forget that talented people “want a career move,” Steve says. They want to see how employers will acknowledge and support their career growth through development opportunities.
“Most of our positions are one, two, three. You come in as a level one, you progress up, and then you move into level two and three. And we do a lot of thinking about how that progression looks,” Carmen says. “What we don’t do a lot of thinking about is — probably where we spend a good chunk of our budget — is on those threes.”
Those talented people are looking for the next stage of career growth, Carmen says, and if they can’t find it at your organization, they’ll leave. “If we can figure out how to get them more engaged, if we can think about the next move in their career, help them think about it and move with them and perhaps offer that to them, then we get a lot more value from the relationship,” Carmen says.
Retain at Scale
“The very best recruiters that I know, they serve as career coaches from the very beginning,” says Carmen, “And it’s a natural role for us to play as recruiters because most candidates don’t have a resource outside of their workplace.”
The challenge is for employers to build a scalable system of career development that encourages the most talented employees — the “level threes,” as Carmen puts it — to stay. One of the challenges, as Steve points out, is that busy managers with many direct reports don’t have time to regularly meet with employees and explore their growth.
What CareerPoint does is “flip the script so that instead of putting all the emphasis on the managers to help their employees develop, you develop the employee’s self-advocacy and career advancement skills so that they know how to … have the career advancement conversation with their manager,” Steve says.
Another benefit of encouraging self-advocacy is that it helps employees see the potential career paths within their organization. Research shows that most employees want to grow within the organization, Steve says, but most also don’t know how to do that — a point that Carmen echoes.
“I will say that today’s young people have a lot more resources than I probably had, but still, it’s not very clear,” Carmen says. “It’s not very organized, and you need someone to help you guide that direction that you take. And you need to have an informed conversation about what direction you should take.”
Attract and Retain Talent as a Team
The job of attracting employees and helping them discover career opportunities is an organizational responsibility, not just up to workers. However, Steve warns against pushing top-down initiatives such as annual appraisals “because, no matter what’s pushed from the top down, it tends to become a box-checking exercise of, ‘Well, we’re being asked to do this, so we have to do it.’”
Instead, organizations should support cultures that encourage bottom-up advocacy. One way managers can do this is by encouraging employees to write down what they’re working on, what they like and don’t like, and what they hope to accomplish, Carmen says. “If I can help you, then then great, I can help you, but at least, let’s put it out there. “
Hybrid working requires that HR be proactive in supporting employees and paying attention to their needs in and out of the office. Hybrid work isn’t going away. In fact, Steve and Carmen believe it’s the future of work.
“I think we will work most of the time from home, but we will have that time when we go in and we connect with other humans and we spend some time with the folks that we work with,” Carmen says.
To attract talent in today’s hybrid world and keep them around, organizations need a workforce strategy that addresses the 4 P’s while meeting employee expectations around compensation, location and career growth.
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