Employers Urged to Be Proactive with Hiring and Retention

By Toni Vranjes August 27, 2019

LONG BEACH—Low unemployment rates and other workplace issues are creating major hurdles for employers that want to attract and retain top talent, according to Jonathan Siegel, an attorney with Jackson Lewis in Irvine.

In this challenging environment, businesses should develop proactive and creative recruitment and retention strategies, said Siegel, speaking Aug. 25 at the Professionals in Human Resources Association 2019 California HR Conference.

The national unemployment rate of 3.7 percent is "extremely low," he observed, which should prompt companies to develop multi-faceted strategies.

Promote the Company's Culture and Brand

HR professionals should partner with the marketing department to define the corporate culture and promote the company's brand, Siegel said.

Also, it's important to create a mobile-friendly experience for job seekers, so make sure that potential applicants can easily navigate the employer's web site, he emphasized.

Another strategy to attract talent is to create short, engaging videos about the company and the job. This will give job seekers insight into the corporate culture, and it might spur them to apply.

Other strategies for attracting quality candidates are:

  • Incorporating artificial intelligence into the recruitment process.
  • Developing an employee-referral program, which typically leads to higher retention rates.
  • Using social media as a hiring tool.
  • Increasing gender and ethnic diversity in the workforce (which generally leads to better performance for companies).
  • Allowing for flexible work schedules.
  • Retraining current workers instead of laying them off.
  • Making positive contributions to the community and publicize these activities.
  • Recruiting older workers.
  • Considering job applicants with criminal backgrounds.
  • Evaluating workplace policies related to marijuana testing.

Siegel dug into the specifics of some of these strategies. There are many advantages to hiring older workers, he said. In general, they tend to be knowledgeable, experienced, motivated, dependable and have a strong work ethic.

However, an employer's recruitment process could pose major obstacles to hiring older workers. If a company's application asks workers to detail only their last five to seven years of employment, then older applicants will have to exclude many years of work experience. According to Siegel, employers would be advised to allow job seekers to list their entire employment history.

In addition, have an open mind when it comes to hiring people with criminal records. This is a huge pool of potential talent, he said.

Employers need to know the relevant laws on conducting criminal background investigations. Under California's "ban-the-box" legislation, employers generally aren't permitted to ask about a job applicant's criminal history before making a conditional employment offer. If the company decides that it doesn't want to hire a job seeker based on the results of the background check, an "individualized assessment" must first be done to figure out if the offense is relevant to the job duties.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Conducting Background Investigations]

As for marijuana, recreational use of the drug is now legal in California. Siegel explained that companies aren't obligated to accommodate marijuana use by their employees. However, because of the popularity of marijuana, companies should evaluate whether they want to change their workplace policies on not hiring people who test positive for the drug.

Develop Retention Strategies

Retaining talented workers is another struggle that employers are facing. Siegel recommended many different approaches to help solve this problem, including:

  • Developing formal employee-recognition programs.
  • Asking employees for feedback on specific problems at the company.
  • Creating mentorship programs.
  • Improving break rooms.
  • Allowing employees to take time off for volunteer work.
  • Having a casual dress code.
  • Encouraging senior executives to personally thank employees for their contributions.
  • Training managers on how to give positive feedback to employees.
  • Offering wellness programs to enhance health and finances.

One attendee who was drawn to the session was Hermosa Beach HR consultant Caryn Ratcliff. "The low unemployment rate creates a challenge to fill vacancies with the right talent, and it's important for employers to make sure that the talent they hire is the right fit for their environment," Ratcliff told SHRM Online.

"I'd like to gain more insight into how other companies are dealing with finding talent, with ban-the-box legislation, and with [managing] the process of hiring candidates with a nontraditional background," she added.



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