How can you attract great employees in an (almost) fully employed market?

How can you attract great employees in an (almost) fully employed market?

Unemployment rates are at their lowest since the 1970s. Hurray! This is great news for anybody looking for a job. However, when you are the recruiter, it’s a different story. It means that you may have to start thinking outside the box a little in order to attract the top talent.

Now we would never argue that a fair salary isn’t important. Everybody wants to feel rewarded and appreciated financially, and after all, who wouldn’t like a few extra pounds, whether for a car, a holiday or to clear the credit card? However, a well-paid job that offers little else is no longer enough. The trouble is, if salary is all you offer to attract your staff, then you can always be outbid by another organisation who is prepared to pay just that bit more. Then you either get into a bidding war or you lose your candidate.

What makes a perfect package?

So, what elements go to make a perfect package? It will be different for everyone, but here are some things you can consider:

  1. Think about how you handle career planning. People tend to shy away from change. If you demonstrate that you can offer them a clear progression path, with high-quality training supporting it, any potential employee will realise that they have the opportunity to accelerate their careers without having to change organisations.
  2. Does your organisation offer a culture of flexibility? Of course, not all roles can be remotely based, but many can just as easily be done at home as at a desk in the office, particularly with the use of modern technology.   Time-shifting to accommodate a long commute, or allowing staff to leave early to pick up children or tend to a sick parent can make a big difference. It’s about recognising that your employees are human beings with personal lives and going some way to accommodating that.
  3. Somewhere pleasant to eat their lunch and take a break. It sounds so simple but a restful area where staff can sit and eat, away from their desk, is great. Not everyone can go as far as Google, who offer free breakfast, lunch and dinner in their own restaurant. But most workplaces can stretch to an appealing kitchen area or a breakout room with some comfortable seating. These types of environments are great for encouraging staff to interact too, helping morale and generating discussions.
  4. ‘Wellness’ is a hot topic, and as an employer, you can contribute to your employees’ wellbeing in different ways. What about providing something as simple as a bowl of fresh fruit that staff can help themselves to?   Or maybe subsidised gym memberships or participation in the Cycle To Work scheme, where staff borrow cycles and safety equipment from their employer as a tax-free benefit. You could even take a leaf out of the book of the Health Innovation Network, whose Chief Executive Tara Donnelly encourages staff to disengage with email at the end of the working day. As she puts it “we want to make sure people switch off, so we have a curfew for recharging. You need to be with your family and have a digital detox.”
  5. Give some thought as to how you can develop a culture of recognition. This can range from the more visible rewards of taking the team for a weekend away, through to a thank you card sent to the home address of someone who went above and beyond the call of duty. Schemes such as Employee of the Month may sound hackneyed, but they can work well if the voting is down to the staff and they are voting for their peers. We’ve heard of an organisation that gives a gift voucher to anyone who makes an original mistake! They are recognising that person for ‘having a go’ and understand that not every idea works – but that if you encourage people to try, terrific things can happen.

Word gets around

The great thing about developing an attractive package and positive employment culture around a job is that it not only attracts new employees but encourages loyalty from the existing staff. And word gets around – give someone an extra day off for their birthday, and they’ll be sure to tell all their friends – and probably post it on Facebook! Such positive PR may just have candidates knocking on your door.