Over the last 18 months, the traditional workplace has undergone one of the largest remote work experiments in history with close to 7 in 10 employees working from home. The pandemic—responsible for a significant shift in the way we live and work—created a workforce that is reassessing what they want in their professional and personal lives.
Remote work during the pandemic created opportunities for people to consider what they want to do for a living, where they want to live, and who they want to work for. Employers who previously had little trouble finding and hiring employees are now dealing with high turnover rates and struggling to find the right employees.
Employers today are finding success in hiring by:
Understand who the best recruits could be
Be creative with compensation and benefit offerings
Actively engage with onsite and remote employees
The Hunt for Talent
Start your hunt for talent by taking a fresh look at your recruiting models to make sure you are not stuck in old patterns that don’t reflect new trends. Acknowledging that you won’t solve your current hiring challenges by applying past solutions is the first step to breaking out of traditional and market norms, and it is key to finding talent. In today’s employment market, it’s important to understand who your best recruits could be and find creative ways to attract them.
In this year’s summer issue of VRM Intel Magazine, I wrote an article about competing for talent that offers many thoughts on how to attract and retain a seasonal workforce. I recommended you start by identifying one employee to take responsibility for managing the recruitment process to ensure timely communication with applicants and prospects.
The second recommendation I have for you now is to start hunting for talent where others are not. Like fishing, if you want to land the big one, you can’t always fish in the same pond as everyone else.
1. Focus your efforts on benefits that are attractive to female employees because women were the hardest-hit demographic during the pandemic.
Studies show that nearly 60 percent of the jobs lost in the United States as a result of COVID-19 were held by women because these workers became less available due to childcare needs. Consider the following to attract more women by implementing creative benefits for this demographic:
Offer staggered shifts with earlier or later start times to allow for childcare before and after school.
Partner with local daycare providers and offer to childcare services for employees.
Provide transportation services for children before and/or after school.
2. Shift your focus to recruiting a more diverse workforce.
Many organizations are overcoming the talent shortage by speeding up their recruitment processes and focusing on a more diverse pool of applicants.
Change hiring practices to remove barriers to entry such as education and experience requirements.
Remove pre-employment drug screening or consider the trend of removing cannabis from the panel of drugs tested. To date, 48 of 50 states allow for some form of medical marijuana (18 states have legalized recreational marijuana, and 37 have legalized medical marijuana), providing a majority of applicants with legal access to cannabis.
Conduct on-the-spot interviews by texting and video conferencing with applicants. Consider changing your availability to coincide with your applicant’s availability. The key is making it easy for the applicants to speak with someone in your business.
Work with local high schools and guidance counselors to educate students about career paths and opportunities in hospitality and the vacation rental industry. Companies are no longer waiting to recruit college students; they are now recruiting high school students for internships and on-the-job training opportunities to build a pipeline of talent.
Tap into diverse recruitment pools. Looking for talent outside your normal channels and pipelines is a great approach to successfully hiring talent in today’s post-pandemic world. Reach out to veterans and their spouses, partner with local businesses supporting disadvantaged workers, or seek out family members reentering the workforce and retirees. These untapped demographics make up a significant portion of the workforce.
Widen your searches to consider individuals with criminal records. Today one in three adults (70 million Americans) has a criminal record. Many employers are willing to consider candidates with criminal histories if they have relevant skills, good references, and a solid performance record. A recent survey conducted by Second Chance Hiring from the Consumer Standpoint stated that 79 percent of employees would feel comfortable working for an employer if a few of their coworkers had a nonviolent criminal record. The survey also stated that 82 percent of respondents would be comfortable patronizing a business that hires people with criminal records.
3. Embrace remote workforces.
Another trend to capitalize on is talent relocation. In 2019, less than 10 percent of the population moved, whereas recent studies show that 35 percent of the population moved during 2020, and 56 percent of the population has moved or plans to move during 2021. It’s time to be intentional about the work that can be done remotely as part of your talent strategy for attracting, engaging, and retaining your workforce.
Identify which responsibilities and tasks can be completed remotely, even if it means reassigning responsibilities or redefining roles.
Focus less on experience and more on capabilities by grouping similar responsibilities and tasks together (e.g., problem-solving, collaboration, agility, and adaptability).
Explore off-shoring and near-shoring resources through PEO (professional employer organizations) and international workforces.
Accepting that remote work must be a large part of your ongoing talent strategy.
Show Me the Money
Struggling to find talent is not new. However, the pandemic’s widespread effect on entry-level, hourly employees has resulted in companies paying higher starting wages. Companies are recognizing that there is no way around paying more in areas where the demand is greater than the supply.
Compensating employees today requires focusing on groups of jobs mostly filled by hourly workers and key professionals, including:
1. Jobs that are difficult to fill or jobs that have high turnovers such as housekeeping, maintenance, dispatching, and guest services
The hospitality industry has seen an average increase of $1.00– $3.00 per hour for entry-level and hard-to-fill positions. In addition to raising wages, companies are starting to provide pay increases at specific intervals based on the length of time in position, known as skill-based pay. Creating more transparency for workers with pay increases every three or six months during their first two years demonstrates opportunities for wage and skill growth. This practice is key to attracting talent to your business.
2. Jobs that are key to achieving business results
Think about revenue management, business development, property services, and sales. Working remotely during the pandemic created options for higher-skilled professional employees looking for new career opportunities. To retain these key employees, employers are bringing back retention bonuses, mid-year salary adjustments, and increased paid time off. To offset increasing fixed costs, some employers are using one-time payouts for special bonus awards or equity payments.
3. Jobs for which wages have experienced considerable inflation
Review your compensation and think about how much the position is worth to your business, then adapt that to local market factors. Your compensation strategy requires a new focus on internal equity to ensure that your entry-level wages are not bumping against your current “engaged” workforce. Transparency with pay rates is key to attracting and retaining your team. Pay close attention to local market factors for your direct workforce because employees are less prone to move or commute long distances for a new job.
Keep Me Challenged
Providing employees with the skills they need to grow and develop is fundamental for keeping employees engaged, focused, and happy. It’s about creating a culture of learning and development, so you can train for the skills you need today and in the future.
One year ago, I wrote an article, “Employee Retention Ideas for 2021 and Beyond,” for VRM Intel Magazine that spoke to creating flexible ways to manage your employees’ performance, the value of investing in training and development opportunities, and increasing remote-work capabilities as a way to engage and retain talent. The article addresses several ideas that are still relevant in today’s marketplace. When it comes to engaging and retaining talent, it’s important to consider the following actions:
1. Create career pathways to inform your employees what is required for them to move from one position to another.
What skills do they need to develop that will equate to additional pay and responsibilities? Utilize career paths to connect the dots for employees so they can easily see what they need to learn, how much experience they need, and what the salary ranges are for the new skills.
2. Develop the talent you can’t find by reskilling your workforce.
The best employees are made not found. Start by identifying the skills you need, and find employees interested in learning them. Provide employees with education assistance and time to obtain the skills.
Understanding your costs of hire and termination is key to developing your talent. The cost of reskilling is considerably lower than the cost of hiring and terminating employees. For example, if it costs you $5,000 to hire an employee and $2,500 to provide additional training and education to a current, engaged employee, it’s a win-win. You retain your employees’ institutional and subject matter expertise, and they bring more relevant skills to your business. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that the workplace is not limited to physical workspaces and has opened up broader environments for workers to contribute from. A significant percentage of the workforce is working from their home environment, car, or coffee shop while juggling personal and family responsibilities. Employees are looking for personal well-being, a sense of belonging, and a culture in which they can contribute their full potential—in a physical or remote workspace.
The war for talent is being won by companies that are proactive. Business leaders who define how the “new normal” might affect their work, workplace, and workforce are adapting, flexing, and adjusting their resources to create resilience and thrive-not just survive-during times of uncertainty and instability.