Lockdown has encouraged many organisations to reflect, take stock and lay the foundations for new ideas moving forward. When speaking to the market over the past few weeks, there have been resounding questions and concerns around recruiting, retaining and engaging employees, both now and in the future.
What is causing this?
There has been a shift in candidate behaviour where individuals who were previously active are seeking security and stability. This has caused the candidate pool to shrink as people hunker down and aim to ride out perceived uncertainty. With many companies recognising that there may well be a lasting legacy of reluctance for at least 6 to 12 months following the ease of lockdown.
However, COVID-19 has unfortunately left some people out of work. I have recruited for finance for the past 6 years and can confirm that the past month has seen a steep increase in immediately available candidates. Not only has the interim candidate pool increased in size, the quality of the individuals in this pool are incredibly strong with fantastic qualifications, experience, skills and motivations.
So, how can we attract talent through this period of change? Increasing your brand awareness is a great place to start. People are at home and spending more time online which is causing a media shift. Ask yourself the following:
- Does your organisation utilise all relevant social media platforms?
Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc.
A surprising number of companies are still yet to utilise different platforms in order to attract talent. Consider your proposition to the market and who you are aiming to attract. Where are they most likely to be looking at in their spare time?
- Are you creating relevant, engaging and attractive digital content?
When thinking about your content, reflect on what has been successful and try new things. Consider moving toward short videos, blogs and images of your workplace and colleagues. As a result of the pandemic, candidates will want to understand how you react to employee safety, how well your organisation is doing and how you are positively adapting to our current climate. Be wary of how your content will be perceived at this sensitive time.
- How many people are aware of your brand and what you stand for?
You can consider using Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, YouTube Analytics etc. to help understand who is interacting with your content. Addressing the above should increase these numbers and enhance your brand awareness.
COVID-19 has caused a change in most of our work lives, environments, processes and procedures. With non-essential workers switching on remotely from home, organisations that have previously not enabled or tested flexible home working can now see productivity in action. Many are considering the employee response to getting back to ‘business as usual’ and whether flexible home working will become the norm from 2020 onward. Should a business decide not to do this, and its competitors do, will they be able to retain staff long-term? Consider producing an anonymous questionnaire on these types of issues in order to understand your employee’s response.
It is vital to contemplate your employer reputation as a place to work, and your current employee value proposition. Over the period of the past 2 months, ask yourself these questions:
- Have you been transparent in your comms?
Being honest and open through times of change will help employees trust you and their organisation. Do not avoid the difficult questions and share the negatives as well as the positives. Your employees are smart enough to see through smoke and mirrors. How you react in times like these are remembered.
- Have you been authentic in the presentation of your business?
A genuine approach to your internal communication and media output will resonate with employees. We are all humans in this together.
- Have you put your company values into action?
Many organisations have values written. But when were they written, by who and how are they implemented into your organisation’s actions, approach and methods? Take this opportunity to reflect and decide whether your values are relevant and if they resonate with your employees. If your values are well established, ensure that in all of your actions, communication and processes you are acting out these principles.
All of the above will help you be consistent and establish your brand personality. This should resonate with your target audience and ultimately lead to heightened retention rates.
So, how can you re-engage your employees that may previously have been active on the market? You now have a window of opportunity whilst they anchor down to ride out this pandemic. You will also want to engage your wider audience considering customers and attracting new hires. Employee and customer brand affinity is something to reflect on at this point. Ask yourself the following:
- Have you given your employees or the wider market the opportunity to give their opinions on your organisation?
- Have you responded to feedback with action?
- Have you communicated your intent to action and expected benefits?
You want to build a relationship with your employees, customers and future hires. Create that emotional connection that will lead to increased brand loyalty. You must firstly understand how your business is perceived. You can then respond to the current changing market conditions.
Telling stories can be a fantastic tool to consider when looking to achieve this. True, accurate and positive business stories that allow an individual to empathise, buy into and trust your brand moving forward. When people care about your brand, they will feel engaged.
Having the personal touch will also establish greater engagement. Give your employees some meaningful one on one time. Listen, be open and non-judgemental. The likelihood that your staff will open up in this environment is high if you are authentic in your approach, thereby allowing you to understand how to help solve their problems and concerns in order to engage and retain.
All of the above should help establish confidence in your brand, organisation and people. This confidence will encourage passive candidates to re-consider their stance on pursuing other avenues at this time. It will also help you retain your current employees through engagement and affinity. We all have the opportunity to reflect, develop and grow at this time. Lets make the most of it!