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Need to Recruit or Retain Employees Right Now? Rethink Your Approach.

Put your rethinking cap on. Qualities that made your workplace desirable in February may not apply anymore. The pandemic is altering what makes businesses attractive to both jobseekers and current team members. Is your business best positioned to recruit and retain staffers right now?

What is leadership’s role?

Answers to that question may reside at the top rungs of your organization. Krisann Hatch, director of workplace innovation at Archbright, a Seattle-based company that specializes in connecting Pacific Northwest businesses with HR resources, shared in a recent Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific webinar that executive responses to current conditions directly impact reputations.

“The question is, as an employer, are you helping or are you making matters worse?” says Hatch. “It’s really critical how a leadership team and an organization respond right now as to whether or not they’re going to keep good people, and whether they can attract good people through their reputation.”

Building reputation through communication.

How well leadership lands their business on the “helping” side of the equation depends on how well they communicate with their staff. During times of unpredictability, messages should come often. And when they’re delivered, they better be transparent.

Jill Rodriguez, human resources generalist with BBB NW+P, encourages continuous, clear communication with staff, especially right now. A steady flow of information is an effective way of easing employee apprehension.

“We understand that our team members are feeling anxious in these very uncertain times,” says Rodriguez. “To help in that tug-a-war of worries, our organization can do its best to keep the workforce apprised of decisions and outcomes that affect them directly. And do this in a timely and relevant manner.”

But employing transparency may be easier said than done. Hatch recommended the following practices for infusing clarity into your organizational messaging:

Consider tone and language. Is what you’re communicating clear? Does it sound positive? Have a member of your team – possibly someone from HR or marketing – read the message first to confirm it meets those standards. Employees are likely stressed right now. What you communicate and how it’s delivered can alleviate those issues.

Make time for teaching. The people your leadership team manages require empathy, compassion and tact more than ever. Those are all skills that can be taught. So, make sure your leaders have the necessary resources for learning how to guide teams during a crisis.

Follow the feedback. There’s a lot of change happening as a result of the pandemic. Ask your staff for feedback on everything that’s happening. Those responses can guide future decisions and restore a sense of control some employees may feel they’ve lost over the past few months.

“We are asking and listening more than ever,” says Rodriguez. “We are acutely aware of the necessity to increase our engagement with our teams, listen to their needs and concerns, and take action to keep our team members and the organization moving in a positive direction.”

Transparency’s role in retaining employees extends to the types of information communicated as well. For example, keep your team up to date on their rights as an employee. Not only will your team feel more informed, they’ll feel like their workplace is looking out for their well-being.

“Companies that care for their employees, educate them on their rights and what is available to them, and are transparent about these issues have higher engagement, and therefore higher retention with their employees,” said Hatch.

Log in for better turnout.

But what if you need to grow your team right now? Beyond keeping your current staff on board, many businesses are looking to bolster their benches right now. Adding employees during the pandemic has presented a unique set of roadblocks.

“Our organization made the decision to go on a hiring freeze as one of the ways to cut expenses back in March,” says Rodriguez. “When we decided to re-open hiring a few months after that, the resumes did not flood in as we anticipated.”

The lack of response could be attributed to a variety of factors. People are more reluctant to make major career changes, increased unemployment benefits may have lowered the number of active jobseekers and some larger companies are hiring in bulk, which depletes the pool of available candidates. Those are significant hurdles for businesses look to add staff.

They aren’t insurmountable, though. From a recruiting perspective, finding success during the pandemic requires an emphasis on networks. Businesses should utilize online resources and access already-established contacts to bolster their workforces. Hatch offered some insight for making that happen:

Go completely virtual. From posting your position to interviewing candidates to making a hire, every step in the recruitment process should be performed online. Job seekers expect those capabilities. Invest in platforms that make those options possible.

Be open about being open. It’s difficult to attract good candidates if they don’t know your business is hiring. Traditional social media channels are great resources for raising awareness of a job opening. Look into posting on industry-specific sites as well.

Know who’s out there. Use your business’ existing pool of candidates that’s already on file. Some of those names might be looking for professional opportunities again. Also, connect with previous employees who you would love to see come back.

Learn more about your business can better recruit new team members and retain current employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Written by Ben Spradling

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