Guidance for recruitment, retention and development of staff in a candidate-led market
I am sure we have all heard of the phrase ‘The great resignation’ by now, but what does it mean and why is it relevant to you as a hiring manager, and to this article?
The great resignation can be defined as an ongoing economic trend in which employees have voluntarily resigned from their jobs en masse, beginning in early 2021 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the most cited reasons for resigning include wage stagnation amid the rising cost of living, limited opportunities for career advancement, hostile work environments, lack of benefits, inflexible remote-work policies, and long-lasting job dissatisfaction.
I liken the great resignation in the Scottish senior finance market to a big game of musical chairs, with lots of people making moves in the last 24 months amidst a myriad of other conflicting factors. There have been fewer CAs coming through the graduate schemes (although I recently met with the Managing Partner at one of the Big 4 who suggested they are ramping up graduate recruitment to combat this), many people are taking early retirement through the pandemic period, and Brexit is impacting the number of European nationals able to work in Scotland. This combined has created a perfect storm where we are job heavy and candidate light. This article aims to explore the ways in which businesses can combat this and continue to successfully hire, retain and develop staff.
The recruitment process
It can be difficult in the current market conditions to source top calibre candidates using internal resources alone. If you are looking for external recruitment support, it is vital that you engage with a recruitment partner you can trust, and then form a strong professional relationship with them. It is important to partner with someone who believes in your brand and is therefore able to engage the right calibre of candidates. Seek referrals from other leaders and your own network, note which brands are partnered with relevant professional bodies and look for businesses that have recently filled relevant comparable roles to yours. For an external recruitment agent to be successful, they need to have the network, the influence and capability to get targeted individuals excited about an opportunity and be fully bought into a process.
Whether you decide to engage with an external resource or an internal one, arguably the most important part of any recruitment process is having your employee value proposition (EVP) nailed down. An EVP is the balance of rewards and benefits that are received by employees in return for their performance at the workplace. An EVP must be unique, relevant and compelling if it is to act as a key driver of talent attraction, engagement and retention. Typically, an EVP is composed of 5 different driving factors: compensation, benefits, career development, working environment & culture.
Once you have found an appropriate external partner (or are using internal resources) and you have nailed your EVP, the recruitment process itself becomes key. To run a successful process, the first thing you need to identify is the timescale. The best way to do this is to work backwards, starting with when you need someone to be in post. For a senior role, I would set aside three months for notice periods, two weeks for the interviews and two weeks for sourcing. Defining your timelines before you start the process, then working to them, is critical to maximising success. You can then have handover periods with current staff, increasing new employee impact, and you are able to effectively manage the expectations of the candidates in the process and by extension you protect your own employer brand. Once you reach the conclusion of the formal process, it is vital that the offer phase is managed appropriately; you should have an idea of salary/package expectations prior to a process kicking off, and make sure when you do identify the right individual, you don’t low-ball an offer - this is a sure-fire way to make someone feel under-valued before they have even joined your business. Make sure to benchmark salaries internally and with your appointed agency partner prior to the end of a process, so that all parties are on the same page and your offer is aligned with market value and candidate expectations.
It goes without saying that hiring the right people is a goal for any organisation, but once you find them, how do you make them stay?
With the challenging market dynamics at present, having a clearly defined EVP is just as important with regards to retaining staff as it is when hiring them. Companies that are successful in engaging with employees will have nurtured loyalty and pride in the brand. To be truly authentic, values and culture must be consistent and visible at every level. If managers are not aligned with these, it will be hard to retain good people, as they will feel mis-sold on EVP and will look for a better match elsewhere.
Three key factors to consider when looking at the retention of staff and EVPs are as follows.
- Personal development: Having clearly defined development plans with regular appraisals and 1-to-1’s. Professional development is a key pillar of a robust EVP, and employees with a clearly defined track of progression are unlikely to be considering external options.
Here are a few ideas to consider regarding professional development:
- Make sure you give your employees regular access to both internal and external training.
- Set competency framework structures for promoted roles and create an internal mentor structure whereby someone can have a mentor while also mentoring junior members of staff themselves.
- Schedule quarterly/yearly personal development reviews, with light touch catch-ups every month focused on actions and development points as aligned with the development plan set out at the start of the year.
- Package and benefits: It goes without saying but if there are financially undervalued individuals within a business, they are likely to consider external options, especially against an increasingly bleak economic outlook with a rapidly rising cost of living. Make sure to do regular salary surveys and external benchmarking exercises; if you are unsure where to start with this, having a trusted recruitment partner who can provide this insight is a good place to start.
Beyond salary, employee benefits need to be bespoke for everyone. Not everyone wants or cares about parental leave, for example, and not everyone feels the need for a gym membership. It makes sense to curate a selection of benefits that employees can choose from. As building loyalty is part of a retention strategy, some of these benefits can actively reward loyalty and engagement.
- Working patterns: I think it is clear to all businesses that hybrid and flexible working is here to stay. Offering no flexibility puts businesses at a clear disadvantage in the labour market. This is something we see with our clients as this lack of flexibility can be perceived as a culturally stagnant organisation. Having experienced working from home, many now resent the time lost to commuting.
Making autonomy and flexibility available are going to be standard expectations for EVPs; it points to an employer that trusts its people, giving them more agency over how they structure their day and get their work done. According to our recent survey of jobseekers, one in five (20%) say they would look for another job if they didn’t have the option to work from home.
Beyond these 3 key points, businesses should also consider these factors:
- Focus on purpose and values and regularly communicate these to the business.
- Hire people that are aligned on purpose and values; another sure-fire way to recruit successfully.
- Make sure you create an inclusive culture, considering corporate social responsibility, employee wellbeing and having a focus on the communities you engage with. This can help successfully create an inclusive feel within an organisation.
For a confidential discussion with Rutherford Cross around your recruitment needs, please get in touch with the team.
More information on some of the key areas mentioned in this article can be found via the links below:
This blog is one of a series of articles from our commercial partners. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ICAS.