It’s not just about how you find the talent for your organisation – it’s about how you keep it, finds Helen Swire
For nearly a decade employers have been able to take a relatively laid-back approach to recruitment and retention: since the 2008 recession, the job market has been such that many people have been taking whatever jobs are available and not even considering taking a career risk.
But that is changing: a more stable economy and increasing job availability is giving workers the opportunity to be more selective. With the average person having 11 jobs in their working life, employers need to consider how to recruit the best talent and to keep them on board.
A value-led process
So how to attract the cream of the crop? Benefits packages are the new deal breaker for younger members of the workforce, according to research from healthcare specialist Bupa – a pay rise is of less importance to those under 25, who are more motivated if a company treats them well. Company culture and values are also becoming increasingly important.
“When recruiting, it’s important to look beyond the skills of the candidate and find someone that is also a good cultural fit for the organisation,” says Andy Campbell, human capital management strategy director at Oracle. “It’s not just about discounted gym membership, free coffee or subsidised canteens – employees are now more concerned about the social conscience of a company. We’re seeing a growing demand from prospective employees for details of our corporate social responsibility credentials, charitable initiatives and workplace mentoring programmes.”
Behavioural science is also now playing a significant role in the recruitment process.
Speaking about research from the consultancy Hymans Robertson and the London School of Economics, Gill Tait, people director at Hymans, says: “Behavioural science moves us into a more sophisticated way of targeting specific audiences and making sure we attract as many high-quality applicants as possible. It’s a great opportunity for recruiters to broaden their skills and approach recruitment from a strategic, market perspective.
“Can we do more to segment the recruitment market along factors such as age, career stage and attributes – and then use different communication channels to interact with them more effectively?
“We’ve more choice than ever, so it’s important we develop a greater understanding of who engages with different channels and what style of language, content and imagery works best.”
However effective the recruitment process, the engagement and retention of employees remains a challenge: especially in the younger generations. Bupa’s research shows that a third of younger staff are more likely to leave their jobs for an organisation with better benefits.
And there’s the challenge of a multigenerational workforce. Employers must also consider the needs of older staff: from caring for children or parents to wanting critical illness cover or needing help preparing for their retirement.
“The important point here is tailoring plans on an individual basis,” says Campbell. “By understanding strengths, weaknesses, interests and motivations employers can develop a personalised programme for each member of the team that keeps them happy and committed to the company.”
But is integrating your workforce the answer to retaining staff? Or offering them individual and relevant reward?
“Whether someone decides to stay at an organisation will, of course, be influenced by pay and the benefits, but good communication can have a far greater influence,” says Steve Sykes, head of business development at Gallagher SHILLING.
“After all, what good’s a fantastic benefits package if staff don’t fully understand it so can’t really value it? Good communication can make sure employers actually achieve a return on their benefit investment in the form of improved retention.”
He adds: “The role of communication goes way beyond just benefits. The way an employer communicates can be the difference between an employee fully embracing the values and behaviours of an organisation, being vested in its vision and ultimately feeling engaged in the success of their employer, and with that their own opportunities for progression.”
With the progression of HR technology, the use of data analytics may shape the picture of recruitment and retention.
“Career development and progression, collaborative colleagues and a professional environment that still allows you to have fun builds loyalty, and this accumulation of many small benefits and initiatives creates the overall culture that causes people to stay,” explains Tait.
“And beyond the cultural aspects, an in-depth knowledge of your business and the profile of your people through the use of data is crucial and can give you leading indicators on where you might want to nudge change.”