Talent attraction & retention – How to find talent and keep them

When I reflect on the past two years, I never imagined it would lead us to where we find ourselves today – scrambling to find talent and desperately trying to hold onto the talent we have!

No one imagined the world could effectively stop spinning on its axis and international and domestic travel paused indefinitely.  The repercussions of this event, like a ripple from a stone thrown in a lake, keeps on expanding outwards in the most unlikely ways.  The effects being our lowest unemployment rates in nearly half a century and confidence to travel internationally remaining low in the short-term adding stress to a stretched labour market with decreased immigration and shortfalls in an itinerant transient workforce.

In Talent Attraction & Retention: How to Find Talent and Keep Them we talk more about the three emerging trends affecting the Australian labour market and what employers can do to better attract and retain staff.

Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS reported in August, “the fall in unemployment reflects an increasingly tight labour market, including high job vacancies and ongoing labour shortages, resulting in the lowest unemployment rate since August 1974”.

(Channel Nine Archives – www.9news.com.au)

With the ABS reporting 3.4% unemployment nationally and 3.2% in Queensland, it is no wonder employers are struggling to find good people. As a result of these conditions, the market is experiencing a talent deficit which is driving up the cost to hire with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) research indicating an average cost to hire is $23,000 up around $10,000 on previous years[1]. In addition, we are seeing salary creep as demand for talent intensifies.

Turnover Hurts

As employers we know that you cannot think about the cost of turnover without considering both the direct and indirect costs of unwanted turnover. Whether you undertake the recruitment process directly or outsource to specialists, the direct cost of recruitment pales significantly when compared to other turnover factors such as:

  • an unstable workforce;
  • lost productivity;
  • knowledge loss as experienced employees leave;
  • low employee engagement;
  • opportunity cost of lost revenue;
  • increasing sick leave and lost time injuries as a result of worker fatigue;
  • reputational damage; and
  • quality and compliance risk.

Lastly replacing staff, especially within a tight labour market can lead to unsustainable upward salary creep which can adversely impact your cost of doing business.

Need help with recruitment and attraction?  Explore our Recruitment & Onboarding consulting services or get clarity around your staffing challenges with a free 15 minute phone consultation.

Four Key People Pillars to focus on

So, what can you do to hold onto those fabulous people you already have in your business and attract more high calibre talent to join your team? A simple way to approach this is through 4 easy pillars to focus on:

  1. Attracting your workforce
  2. Retaining your workforce
  3. Enabling your workforce
  4. Connecting your workforce

Attracting your workforce

Are you ready for the next generation? Generation Z (Gen Z) are people born from 2000 onwards and are notably the most tech savvy generation currently. It is important to adapt your methods of attraction which will appeal to these new entrants into the labour market[2]. Activities such as:

  • word-of-mouth with employee referrals (trusted source of endorsement);
  • presence across social media – don’t underestimate the power of FB or Instagram to get your messages out there – ‘going viral’ for the right reasons is free media;
  • sponsorship of local events in the community;
  • promotion in schools and universities.

It is recommended you focus on a number of key attributes when promoting opportunities to Gen Z such as:

  • flexible schedule allowing employees to achieve work/life balance;
  • the job itself – is it interactive, varied, exciting, communicative;
  • connected or involved with the latest in digital technology;
  • a strong image of the company as well-known, growing and dynamic;
  • opportunities for development and promotion/growth.

Quick and easy strategies to attract your workforce

We know it can be tiresome and expensive to think about innovative ways to find people – so we have come up with some stress free and low-cost options that might help you find your next talented employee:

  • launch an employee referral programme (monetary or non-monetary benefits);
  • contact past employees/inactive casuals for re-employment;
  • create videos (record on your iphone) with existing staff talking about their experiences and benefits of working at your organisation and then use this across your social media channels;
  • advertise across multiple channels including social media.

Retaining your workforce

It is more important than ever to keep your employees engaged with your Employee Value Proposition (EVP).  We hear a lot of chat around employee engagement and EVP but what does this really mean and why does it matter? Employee engagement is simply the emotional commitment the employee has to the company and its goals – they care about their work and your company.  EVP on the other hand is your stated people deal – the “Why work for us and stay with us” package of benefits that differentiate you from your competitors.

According to Insync[3] research on how to create a compelling EVP, an effective EVP can bring an organisation significant benefits, these include:

  • 24-47% increase in employees recommending your company as a workplace;
  • 28% reduction in annual employee turnover;
  • 29% boost in commitment from employees; and
  • up to 50% reduction in payment of premiums to new hires.

If you don’t already know your EVP then you should sit down and think about what it is that makes you stand out to potential candidates and your team.

Quick and easy strategies to retain your workforce

There are a few key things you can do relatively easily to improve your retention of employees in the short term:

  • launch an employee recognition program – this could be to recognise service anniversaries; birthdays; achievements – it could be with monetary or non-monetary benefits. You could simply do a monthly BBQ thank you to all your staff.
  • consider remuneration bonuses for identified retention needs in critical roles;
  • review your remuneration for competitiveness ensuring you balance affordability and sustainability in determining any wages.

Enabling your workforce

In Patrick Lencioni’s book – The Truth About Employee Engagement, he identifies three signs of a miserable job: Anonymity; Immeasurability; and Irrelevancy.  These signs will resonate if you have ever worked somewhere where you felt you were not valued; you lacked role clarity; or felt no one was interested in your personal or professional development.

Whilst we have already recommended employee recognition above, it is important to also enable your people to know how well they are doing.  Providing employees role clarity and role accountability with clear feedback channels is an important way for an individual to measure their success in a role. In addition, these feedback channels enable employees to see how they add value to the company.  It also facilitates performance development conversations to be undertaken and opportunities to identify future growth or potential.

Key strategy to retain your workforce

The number one thing employers can do to enable your workforce is to onboard your new hires effectively. Onboarding helps new employees adjust to their jobs by establishing better relationships to increase satisfaction, clarifying expectations and objectives to improve performance, and providing support to help reduce unwanted turnover.[4] With Gallup research indicating only 12% of employees believe their employer did a solid job of onboarding, this leaves you ample room to improve your onboarding program and capture up to 69% of employees who are more likely to stay for three years if they experience great onboarding.

Connecting your workforce

Do your leaders know how to connect with their people? If there is one area that companies can and should emphasise when it comes to management training, it’s active listening and communication. Employee dissatisfaction with their leaders is almost always the result of poor listening skills or poor communication skills on the part of the leader. People need to feel valued. What we are seeing is that authentic and empathetic leadership is required in a post Covid world.

Oprah notably said in a Harvard commencement address in 2013,

“…the single most important lesson I learned in 25 years talking every single day to people, was that there is a common denominator in our human experience…we want to be validated. We want to be understood.

I have done over 35,000 interviews in my career and as soon as that camera shuts off everyone always turns to me and inevitably in their own way asks this question “Was that okay?” I heard it from President Bush, I heard it from President Obama. I’ve heard it from heroes and from housewives. I even heard it from Beyonce and all of her Beyonceness. She finishes performing, hands me the microphone and says, “Was that okay?”

With this in mind it is important to ask yourself:

  • Are your values clear?
  • Are your values lived?
  • Do your employees understand their purpose?
  • Do your employees have role clarity and know their role accountabilities?
  • Do you survey your people for honest and open feedback?
  • Do you act on the feedback?

If you answer no to any of these  and your business strategy doesn’t recognise your companies’ number one asset, its people, then it’s time to update it.

At Harrisons we have recognised the value we can add to our client’s recruitment and onboarding processes through true and authentic partnerships.

Helping uncover your Employee Value Proposition, creating your own innovative go to market strategies, and supporting you every step of the way throughout the onboarding of your new talent and how to keep your current employees engaged – we can work with you to drive your people agenda.

Learn more about our Recruitment & Onboarding consulting services or get clarity around your staffing challenges with a free 15 minute phone consultation.

[1] PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) research (2022) study titled “The Future of    Work: What workers want: Winning the war for talent”.

[2] Sidorcuka, Irina & Chesnovicka, Anna. (2017). METHODS OF ATTRACTION AND RETENTION OF GENERATION Z STAFF. CBU International Conference Proceedings. 5. 807. 10.12955/cbup.v5.1030.

[3] Source: https://insync.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Insync-research-How-to-create-a-compelling-EVP.pdf

[4] SHRM. “Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success.” Accessed on 31 October 2022.


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