Employee Recruitment and Retention During All-Time Low Unemployment

Employee Recruitment and Retention During All-Time Low Unemployment

Written by Jill Gerrick, Human Resources Manager, Walman Optical

Many employers are struggling to fill key positions in their workforce this year and are pointing to historically low unemployment as a reason behind this struggle. While it is a valid concern, there are several strategies that can be implemented to help employers overcome this obstacle.

An important aspect of employment is employee retention efforts. Keeping qualified and productive employees happily engaged in the workplace will help ensure they won't search for new opportunities and leave.

How do you find out what keeps your employees happy and engaged? Ask them! Some employers are making "stay interviews" an annual part of their employee communication efforts. For "stay interview" example questions, see below. Other employers use employee engagement surveys to try to gather similar data. Some employers complete exit interviews for departing employees and receive data through that feedback for possible changes, too, but this form of data collection does not help retain the employee. Whatever data you uncover, make a plan to act on it or communicate to your employees what solutions you are implementing in the future, or why you are unable to implement the changes.

Communication is just one of the keys to engaging employees. Highly engaged workers often state their manager or supervisor listens to their ideas, they feel comfortable with their coworkers and share the same values as their company. To achieve a highly engaged workforce, it takes continual focus by leadership on the things that matter most to employees. According to Gallup Research, only 30 percent of workers are actively engaged, 52 percent are not engaged and 18 percent are actively disengaged.

Engaging with employees is NOT about...

  • Having material things in the workplace
  • Having the best of every amenity in the workplace
  • Avoiding tough decisions
  • Pleasing everyone all the time
  • A "catch-phrase" for training programs

Engaging with employees IS about....

  • People
  • Relationships
  • Alignment
  • Shared responsibility for creating business success and a great work environment
  • Continuous communication
  • Opportunities for performers
  • Individual development

The highlights of your work culture should be communicated and celebrated, whether you recognize employees for years of service, idea generation, safe work practices or volunteering – it's important to promote your programs. Solicit feedback from your employees and involve them in engagement improvement efforts. Employees help support work cultures that they have the opportunity to play a part in creating, and many engagement programs don't have a high cost to implement. Employees that are proud of their organization will help drive engagement.

Once you have created a satisfying work environment, it is much easier to recruit people to join your team. Your employees become ambassadors of your brand and spread positive messages to others regarding their place of work. If you are still struggling to get applicants to come through the door, here are some other options you can try:

  1. Offer a referral bonus to your current employees for referring new employees. For example, offer a $1,000 bonus in two installments after the referred employee successfully completes four months and twelve months of employment.
  2. Build a relationship with your local high school or technical school. Most are searching for career paths for their students and would love to hear from you.
  3. Network. It isn't uncommon for managers to hire talent from outside the industry, so it's important to make a good connection with peers who could help you in these types of situations. Think about the "informal recruiters" you know in your life who can ask around and suggest someone they know who is looking for a similar position who could be a good fit. This could be friends, family or even customers.
  4. Use applicant tracking systems. Through these systems, you're able to tell applicants about your company and culture in the job posting which allows both sides to determine if goals are similar.

Creating a highly engaged workplace can be the solution to your employee retention issues and your recruitment difficulties.

"Stay Interview" Sample Questions:

  • What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning? What makes you hit the snooze button?
  • What would make you leave our company for another job?
  • What kind of recognition is meaningful to you? Do you get enough?
  • Are you being allowed to reach your maximum potential? How?
  • How can the company help you be more successful in your role?
  • If there are three things we can change around here that would help you and others realize their potential, what would they be?
  • What is something new that you would like to learn this year?
  • What aspects of your job do you like the most and the least?
  • What would be the one thing, if it changed in your current role, would make you consider moving on?
  • If you were to win the lottery and resign, what would you miss most?