Vice President, Global TA Transformation, & Senior Client Partner, North America
High volume hiring is at a standstill for many organizations. Talent pools have dried up, and candidates, even ones that accept job interviews, often withdraw from the hiring process. New hires are no-showing for their first day or dropping out during onboarding.
As a result, talent shortages are plaguing businesses in every industry. In September 2021, more than 51% of all US businesses reported job openings they couldn’t fill — a record high number.
That’s before you combine high volume hiring woes with the Great Resignation, which has employees leaving in droves for new opportunities. The number of Americans voluntarily leaving their jobs rose by 164,000 people to 942,000 in June 2021.
To reverse the attrition, employers have started investing in ways to incentivize candidates to come on board. They’re raising wages and adding sign-on bonuses. They’re spending more on advertising. They’re expanding their recruiting teams — to the extent they can given the talent shortage.
So far, these tactics aren’t working.
Perhaps that’s because these solutions are largely financial and don’t get to the heart of the volume hiring problem: candidate disengagement. Instead, businesses need to start attending to candidates’ needs.
What will move the needle? A holistic effort to optimize your entire employee lifecycle, including recruitment, candidate care and onboarding, talent attraction and your employer brand.
5 positive steps that you can take to turn your volume hiring woes around
1. Focus on how to retain your volume hires
It’s a lot less expensive to retain a good employee than to find a new one. When you consider the value of your losses, including lost productivity and sunk costs in recruiting and training, you must also consider the loss of knowledge and trust of a known, loyal employee.
How to improve employee engagement and loyalty
To combat attrition, you have to not only consider how to retain talent — but you also have to improve their engagement and loyalty. Here are our suggestions for how to start.
- Consider your employees’ well-being. Many volume hiring candidates fall in vulnerable groups, and to them, safety is more important than a paycheck. To reassure your candidates and employees, share your safety protocol. But remember that safety goes beyond COVID-19. Consider shoring up your policies promoting work-life balance and employee well-being.
- Review your employee experience and value proposition. If attrition is high in a particular group, ask employees on the front line about their day-to-day working experience, looking for opportunities to improve. Then ask your high performers who love working for you to serve as your brand advocates. They can give your company an authentic, credible voice in the market.
- Evaluate the feasibility of flexible, more family-friendly working arrangements. Though many businesses are starting to return to work, many employees discovered during the pandemic that they enjoyed the flexibility of working remotely, and they value it highly. Many employees still want at least the option of a hybrid work environment that allows them to work from home some days of the week. If remote work isn’t possible, think about ways that you can use flexibility to motivate employees and accommodate employees with caregiving responsibilities.
- Look for opportunities to build in diversity, equity and inclusion. Communicate often about your goals to become more inclusive. Highlight the diversity you have and come up with new, tangible ways to improve your inclusiveness. To expand your opportunities for inclusion, try tapping into your organization’s employee resource groups and networks.
- Benchmark your compensation and benefits against the competition. In the volume hiring market, a difference of cents in an hourly wage can motivate employees to switch jobs. Make sure you’re offering benefits and other perks that compete with your peers and ensure employees recognize the total value of your reward packages. If your compensation and rewards have fallen behind, start rethinking your reward strategy and ways to add cost-effective perks.
- Reward employees for staying. To keep employees from jumping ship, some organizations are offering retention bonuses. You may also want to reward employees who bring in new candidates with an employee referral program.
- Recognize that performance management plays into retention. When thinking about employee retention, you also have to consider how you can develop your employees and manage their performance with their career growth in mind. Options to think about here include reskilling, upskilling and retargeting employees, which can motivate higher performance and build greater loyalty and engagement.
2. Rethink your volume hiring processes
The pandemic turned the job market on its head. Before, employers held the power and could require candidates to go through lengthy assessments and other burdensome hiring processes. Today, candidate tolerance for these processes has declined, and employers are struggling to convert applicants to hires.
Create a more candidate-centric experience
- Make it easier for candidates to apply. Simplify your hiring processes, looking for opportunities to eliminate redundancy and streamline your processes with technology. Make your process mobile-friendly, especially since many high volume hiring candidates prefer to use their smartphones to apply, and use texts and SMS instead of email.
- Shorten the assessment process. If you still need to qualify candidates, use shorter assessments later in the recruitment process, after you’ve built up some goodwill and candidate buy-in. Candidates who are new to your company are less likely to be willing to complete assessments than current employees. You’ll be most successful if you ensure candidates have an opportunity to get something back from the assessment, such as a skill evaluation.
- Don’t neglect your hiring managers. Hiring managers play a vital role in volume hiring processes. So, make sure your processes are easy for managers to follow. Make sure managers buy in to new methods, and keep them up to speed with changes through training and e-learning.
- Hire candidates instantly. Traditionally, volume hires could get a job by applying in person with just their ID or résumé and having a brief conversation. Today, employers are turning to walk-in events, such as open houses, where they deliver job offers the same day. Engaging talent faster in this market may give you better access to talent, if your HR team is open to changing some of its workflows.
3. Improve candidate care
Typically, high-touch candidate care has been reserved for “hard-to-fill” professions like software engineering. But now that high volume hiring has become a key challenge, companies need to cultivate and nurture all candidates, not just those in roles that are complex to hire.
5 ways to elevate the candidate experience
- Treat your candidates as if they were employees. Your relationship with a candidate starts with your first interaction. Spend time identifying their needs as candidates, then find ways to meet them. This can go a long way to relieving their stress and building their loyalty, especially in times of uncertainty.
- Offer candidates a preview of your jobs. Candidates who get a more realistic view into what it’s like to work for your company are more likely to apply and continue through the recruitment process. Make your process as real as possible so candidates can envision being in their workplace and role.
- Use smart technology. You can’t help candidates 24/7/365, but technology can. Use AI and chatbots to improve your candidate experience and give them a point of access throughout their hiring journey.
- Prepare and communicate the onboarding plan. New employees want to start on the right foot. Make it easy for them by sharing an itinerary that answers their questions and eases their anxiety about your onboarding process.
- Begin building a bond. Offer personal touches throughout recruitment that reassure candidates that joining your company is the right decision. Look for ways to share your culture and values. When candidates feel more included and personally recognized, they’re likely to feel more valued and continue through the hiring process.
4. Cast a wider net
When you can’t find enough candidates in your usual candidate pool, you have to fish elsewhere. We recommend that you look to these resources as you search for new volume hiring candidates.
Resources to help your search for volume hiring candidates
- Referrals from friends and family. Many employers don’t include hourly workers in their employee referral programs, because they didn’t have problems recruiting these employees in the past. Including them now sends the message that you value and respect these roles. And offering a referral incentive turns your workforce into an army of recruiters.
- Returners. During the pandemic, women have withdrawn from the workforce, often because of their additional childcare responsibilities. Many women are reluctant to return, but you may entice them if you offer the right mix of benefits, support and flexibility. Rooting out any potential biases or exclusionary processes in your culture will help persuade women that returning to the workforce will be a positive choice.
- Retirees. Younger employees who retired due to redundancy during the pandemic would welcome a job, a wage and pension contributions. If you’d like to return these employees to work, be sure to reassure them about the health and safety of your workplace. Also consider whether you need to rectify any problems surrounding the generation gap and ageism.
- Alumni. Build a strategy to turn your network of capable ex-employees into a talent community. You likely have many past employees who are disgruntled with their current situation, many of whom may have new skills they can bring to the table.
- Underrepresented groups. Your people want to improve representation and opportunity at every level. Have you enabled them to do so? For example, do you have employee resource groups that can reach out and engage minority communities? Do you have employee role models who can act as ambassadors?
5. Promote a positive employer brand and benefits
Infuse your employer brand into every aspect we’ve touched on so far: your employee experience and value proposition, hiring process and candidate care. Confirm with your employees that your value proposition is authentic, transparent and relevant. Your goal is to share enough insight that you inspire them to join your organization.
Inspire candidates to join your organization
- Update your careers website. Make sure your messaging shares your value proposition for the volume hiring market. Include testimonials from current employees to personalize your brand. And make sure there aren’t any unintended obstacles that prevent candidates from applying.
- Bring your brand to life on social media. Social channels are effective ways to reach job candidates where they are. Make it easy for candidates to find you by investing time in sharing your brand message and value proposition in the platforms they use day to day. Ask your brand ambassadors to share a personalized, authentic message that will beckon prospective employees to join your company.
- Review recruitment marketing messages. Make sure the materials you share — in every channel — reflect your employer brand. Your messaging should address candidate priorities and concerns to capture their interest.
The path forward for high volume hiring
It may seem impossible to prepare for an unknown future with an unclear volume hiring outlook. But while your competitors are trying to sort out the current situation, now is the time for you to get ahead by planning for volume hiring in the long-term.
The first step is to evaluate the agility of your recruitment function. Make sure that it’s scalable and that you build in flexibility around your talent acquisition methods and strategies. Next, start planning for possibilities.
We can guide you on how to navigate today’s candidate shortages and tomorrow’s new talent acquisition challenges.
First, download the full version of our article on howto handle volume hiring challenges during the talent shortage.
Then reach out to our experts, who are ready to help you chart a new route forward that will position you for whatever’s next.