Amidst these turbulent economic times, companies all over the country are feeling the pressure to amp up their employee recruitment and retention game. But not everyone is responding in the same way. Hiring managers across frontline worker industries are feeling a little more than their fair share of the burden as job opportunities are now surpassing pre-pandemic levels, while the number of workers available and ready to take these jobs is steadily declining.
The story remains the same through the first half of 2022. There are more than 5 million job openings nationwide, and more one-fifth of them belong to hard-hit industries like retail and hospitality industries. The competition for reliable employees is leading to higher wages, better benefits, and a renewed focus on creating the right kind of work experience to attract workers.
There’s just one problem – money is tight in many businesses that employ wage workers. These companies must find a balance between charging a fair rate for their services and paying a fair rate for their labor.
This means that there is inherently a limit to how high those wages can go, leaving managers and HR to look for alternative incentives to sweeten the pot for their overall employee attraction and retention strategy.
So how do companies employing wage workers attract and retain new talent during these unprecedented times? There are a handful of proven steps you can take that can help you accomplish both these goals. Let’s take a deeper look at each of them.
Step One: Develop Candidate Personas
Despite the scarcity of available workers, it’s more important than ever before to focus on attracting the right people. In order to know what you’re looking for, you need to take a close look at your needs.
Think about these general employee characteristics as you develop your personas:
- Communication style
- Previous work experience
- Career goals
The employees that you’re looking for need to do more than check off the boxes for the job description. They need to be a good fit for the team that you are already developing. As you develop your candidate personas, survey stakeholders like experienced employees in the same position and supervisors for the position you’re hiring to get a sense of their needs.
Then, look at past trends in this position. Have you had a lot of turnover? Were there any similarities in the candidates who left? For example, if you operate a staffing firm, is there a specific type of employee – or a specific type of working situation – that sees a lot of turnover?
If so, could you look into issues with that position or situation that could improve retention? Or should you consider an alternate strategy to boost retention?
Once those are completed, you can start creating a value proposition aimed at these personas.
Step Two: Define Your Employee Value Proposition
Next, you’ll need to take the time to sit down and define what your company brings to the table. In years past, compensation and employee retention were linked, as pay was (and usually still is) the primary motivating factor in attracting candidates.
But today, priorities have shifted. A generation driven by a deep-rooted need for authenticity is calling the shots, and they’re demanding a deeper commitment from their employers.
How do companies add value for their job candidates? We’ve seen a slew of tactics, from a $500 sign-on bonus at McDonald’s to a resurgence in trade school programs sponsored by employers like construction and plumbing, both equally enticing to different types of candidates.
The takeaway here isn’t that you don’t necessarily need to add something new and shiny to your company’s employee package. It’s that you need to identify what you offer and communicate it.
Step Three: Review Benefits and Align to Candidate Needs
Now that you know what you are really offering candidates (beyond wages), it’s time to connect the dots and make sure that your benefits line up with the priorities that you’re communicating to candidates. The thing is, the word ‘benefits’ can be a bit tricky to define. To create a streamlined employee attraction and retention strategy, think about who your employees are.
So how do benefits affect employee retention?
The majority of employers default to a handful of fairly consistent benefits: health insurance plans and retirement matches for employee benefits. In fact, these benefits are so common that they’ve become expected compensation. But in industries like staffing, retail, and hospitality, most of the workforce is transient by nature and potentially less enticed by the long-term commitments needed to see these benefits.
Companies like Aldi and Costco have had good luck extending traditional benefits to part-time workers. Another approach is to provide solutions to real problems that your specific employee group faces.
If you employ a large number of low-wage workers, consider how many of them have access to traditional banking? Often, it’s more fundamental needs like being able to access the paycheck that you provide that can be a more meaningful benefit.
Could adding payroll cards that swipe like a debit card without the need for a bank account be a better fit for your workforce? Or would they value spending cards as bonuses more than tuition assistance? For many employers utilizing a pool of wage workers with an employee attraction and retention strategy, the answer is yes.
The lesson here is that you need to take a minute to assess that the benefits you’re offering are truly serving the job candidates you’re targeting.
Step Four: Follow Through with Employee Appreciation
While the focus is often on recruiting employees, the job doesn’t end there. If you don’t equally focus on retaining employees, you’ll spend a lot more time recruiting replacements. Recruiting and retention should work hand-in-hand to ensure that the candidates that take the job, stay in the job for as long as possible.
Tackle your company culture head-on with targeted efforts to show your gratitude. While every worker shows up to get a paycheck, the quality of their work is driven by how connected they feel to your company and its success. In plain language – show your appreciation, and your employees will happily work harder, and longer.
Common employee engagement and retention programs include:
- Merchandise Gifts
- Gift Cards
- Pay Bonuses
- Food Stipends
- Tuition/Trade School Assistance
- Team Outings/Service Projects
- Peer Recognition Programs
- Gym Memberships
- Mobile Phone Stipends
- Flexible Paid Time Off
- Wellness Incentives
- Pet-Themed Benefits (Stipends for Insurance or Other Costs)
- Childcare Stipends
You need to find meaningful ways to say thank you for your effort.
Step Five: Provide Growth Opportunities for Long-Term Retention
The difference between an employee that stays one year or less and those who commit to longer lengths of employment, garnering multi-year service awards, isn’t the promise of a plaque. It is the presence (or lack) of growth opportunities that will often cause great employees to look for greener pastures.
The big picture in an employee attraction and retention strategy is that you need to actively create internal pipelines that help upskill your workforce. This way companies provide growth opportunities for them and receive a steady supply of qualified workers.
For industries that have a flat structure, like home healthcare, it takes some outside-of-the-box thinking to meet wage worker growth needs. Instead of thinking of it as a vertical progression, adopt a lateral view that focuses on developing more technical skills. Home care aids can start with basic care and earn additional specialized care certifications for more intensive services.
Similarly, other industries like construction, where many workers are not destined for leadership roles can grow through the development of specialized technical skills like certifications in different roofing materials. As another example to consider, cleaners can develop specialized skills in floorcare or window washing and staffing agencies can use a skill-badge system to recognize employee growth and better service their clients with the right workers.
The Bottom Line on a Successful Employee Attraction and Retention Strategy
Even with the worst of The Great Resignation likely behind us, it remains an unprecedented period of time where employees are leaving their jobs in droves and exceptionally difficult to recruit.
Employers need to take action to stand out from the crow. Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to be that ‘something better’ for your job candidates.
It all comes down to your messaging. We’ve laid out a path to treat your candidate recruitment and retention like a formal marketing strategy. Put that strategy to work for you, offering relevant perks that truly fit your candidates’ needs.
Juice Financial offers an easy and convenient way to amplify your wage incentives into better benefits. Instead of handwriting and dealing with the administraitve overhead of payroll checks and leaving your low-wage employees burdened with turning it into spendable money, solve both problems with reloadable payroll cards from Juice.
Get started for free with Juice’s Quick Start for Employers today!*
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