by Lyndsay McGregor, award-winning journalist and Content Editor at Atomic.
Ireland is on track to reach full employment in 2019, and building a strong employer brand will be more important than ever to attract and retain top talent.
In an economy at full employment, companies are incentivised to offer perks that benefit their staff — and those that don’t, run the risk of losing out on the best employees.
According to the Hays U.S. 2018 Salary Guide, employers cited companies that pay more as their biggest competition in the quest for talent, even though only one in five employees said salary was the main reason for leaving their previous job.
That’s why competing on pay alone is not enough to win today’s war for talent; ultimately it’s the companies that can show they are a great place to work that will triumph. Here are six ways to stand out in 2019 as the recruitment market heats up.
1 Offer personalised benefits
In an era where just about everything is customisable, from footwear to furniture to fizzy drinks, it’s not surprising to learn that people want more control over their benefits packages, too. According to MetLife’s 15th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, 58% of employees want customised benefit options based on their personal information, while 72% agree that the ability to tailor their packages to meet their specific needs increases loyalty.
Here’s how it works: Companies decide how much they want to contribute to employee benefits and staff members choose what service to put that money towards, like medical expenses, education, transportation or retirement.
For instance, Irish company HubEx helps over 4,500 employers in Ireland and the UK — including Microsoft, Google, PayPal and Apple — to offer a range of benefits to staff through a bespoke centralised platform. Employees can see everything that’s on offer in one place, and pick and choose accordingly.
2 Make use of technology
Recruiters and hiring managers often receive hundreds of applications for a single role, which then have to be filtered through to shortlist candidates for an interview. It’s a tedious process that increases the time gap between posting a job listing and filling the role.
That’s where Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be a huge help. According to LinkedIn’s latest Global Recruiting Trends report, 58% of talent acquisition professionals using AI in the hiring process say they find the technology most useful when sourcing candidates, with 67% saying that it saves them time.
Google’s Hire platform, for instance, uses AI to turn repetitive, time-consuming tasks like reviewing applications and scheduling interviews into one-click interactions, which means hiring teams can spend less time trawling through paperwork and more time connecting with candidates.
Likewise, AI chatbot Mya communicates with applicants via Skype, email or text, streamlining the early stages of the recruitment process by pre-qualifying candidates to reduce the recruiter’s workload.
3 Widen your scope
In today’s tight labour market, it’s time to consider candidates who don’t have college degrees. In fact, many big companies have already ditched that requirement, including Google, Apple and IBM. The reason: transcripts and test scores do not reflect someone’s true potential or on-the-job ability.
Or take a leaf out of Lever’s playbook and banish “requirements” entirely from job descriptions: the U.S. software company now outlines what the new hire would be expected to already know and help others with, and what they would have to develop on the job, rather than a checklist that might discourage certain candidates.
This approach not only deepens the talent pool, but also keeps hiring and employment costs down because it means the right people are being put in the right roles.
4 Leverage social media to boost your employer brand
Employer branding matters now more than ever: LinkedIn’s Global Job Seeker Trends study found that 75% of candidates take an employer’s brand into consideration before even applying for a job.
Meanwhile, research by Brandon Hall Group discovered that organisations that invest in employer branding are three times more likely to make a quality hire. Basically, if your reputation isn’t up to scratch, you could be shrinking your own talent pool.
Not sure how to promote your employer brand on social media? Start by featuring your employees’ stories and testimonials. Irish tech company Intercom shares videos on LinkedIn of its staff talking about their roles and responsibilities, while Facebook interviews team members about some of the most rewarding aspects of their work.
Want to shine a light on your company’s CSR efforts? Irish outsourcing specialist Voxpro, which employs over 3,500 people across Europe, the US and Asia, encourages its staff to suggest ways to improve company culture, internal processes and employee engagement and then promotes the winning ideas — many of which become pilot projects — across social media.
5 Harness the power of employee referral programmes
Employee referral programmes are nothing new. And yet HireClix research found that while 71% of companies have formal referral programmes in place, only 2% of these are meeting their referral hiring goals.
With 97% of Irish employers currently reporting skills shortages, according to Hays Ireland, it’s high time that companies consider their employees’ networks as a serious source of talent. Not only do referral programmes nearly halve the time required to fill a vacancy, as LinkedIn discovered, they also increase employee retention. A recent JobVite study found that 46% of referred hires stayed for at least one year after they were hired, compared to one-third of people hired through career sites.
Rather than offering cash bonuses in exchange for referrals, follow InMobi’s lead and provide trips and gifts. The mobile marketing and advertising platform saw a two-fold increase in successful tech referrals when it switched from cash rewards to experiential ones.
Salesforce, meanwhile, organises recruitment happy hours and encourages its employees to invite the friends they want to refer. While the company does reward employees with a bonus when a referral works out, it also gives all programme participants the chance to win prizes as a token of appreciation.
6 Provide flexible working arrangements
Companies around the world are experimenting with shorter working weeks in a bid to improve their employees’ productivity and well-being. In New Zealand, for instance, wills and trusts firm Perpetual Guardian trialled a four-day working week and found that 24% of employees said their work-life balance improved and 7% experienced less stress.
Additionally, a YouGov survey of 1,000 Irish workers on behalf of McDonald’s Ireland found that 82% of people who are offered flexible working hours such as telecommuting or flexitime feel more positive about their job, while 79% said it was a reason to stay with their current employer for longer.
Though a four-day week isn’t feasible for most companies, there are ways of improving your employees’ well-being without cutting their hours. Drinks company Diageo offers employees the opportunity to work remotely as well as flexible hours, while many of the staff at Microsoft’s Irish operations work from home one day a week. Elsewhere, jobs site Indeed offers all full-time employees unlimited paid leave, so they can take as much time as they wish as long as their work is done and their boss approves.
Whatever route you choose to take in 2019, one thing is certain: traditional hiring methods are no longer enough to attract top talent. And as competition in the jobs market continues to ramp up, companies that step up their game will stand out.
About the author
Lyndsay McGregor is an award-winning journalist and content creator, currently serving as Content Editor at Atomic. She previously held editorial positions at various print and digital publications in New York and her expertise spans retail, fashion, HR, marketing, tech and sustainability.