Attracting Top Talent in Today’s Evolving Workforce

Here are 4 critical hiring trends and the forces behind them for small and medium-sized businesses. 

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attracting top talent

A seismic shift is underway in today’s labor market. Not since the gritty days of the Industrial Revolution has the American workforce experienced such transformational change.

High unemployment, shifting demographics, a hot job market, severe labor shortages, and the shift to remote work are the forces fueling the dynamic. Prospects are bright for companies that pivot quickly and offer flexible arrangements.

Ankur Patel, Director of Product Marketing at Zenefits, identifies 4 critical trends and the forces behind them for small and medium-sized businesses. 

1. Greater flexibility and work-life balance

Working from home for the past two years allowed workers to reevaluate their lives and careers. Are they happy with their jobs? Are their lives balanced?

Employees are making bold choices in the pursuit of better work-life balance. The firms winning the talent game are responding with new options: higher starting salaries, sign-on bonuses, flexible schedules, broader benefits, and corporate cultures that reflect the diverse values of their workers.

An Accenture survey says 83% of workers prefer a hybrid work situation.

Managers are discovering that job prospects far prefer hybrid work arrangements and flexible schedules to the traditional 9-to-5 office jobs of the past. They increase productivity and attract talent. Companies that adapt and realize that the 4-day work week or the 2-3 day in-office model is rapidly replacing the traditional 5-day work week are the ones coming out on top in employee satisfaction and talent attraction.

Even with these changes starting to hit the mainstream, many workers are choosing to leave the corporate world altogether. They opt for early retirement or go freelance, taking advantage of emerging gig opportunities. At the same time, new work styles are emerging. The asynchronous work style has people working together across different time zones, taking advantage of the 3-hour time difference to accelerate productivity.

Bottom line: We’re never going back to “normal” pre-pandemic life. Companies will either adapt quickly and evolve or risk losing talent, market share, and relevance. 

2. A holistic approach to employee well-being

Traditionally, the benefits package was a critical element in attracting talent. Now, it’s even more important. Holistic approaches that encompass employee total well-being are being embraced, replacing the traditional offerings of a health and dental plan with a 401(k).

Many organizations are realizing the importance of adding additional offerings to their more traditional health benefits–including fertility treatments, mental health benefits, pet insurance, stipends for bills, and groceries. Today, employees seek a total compensation package, not just a salary.

Companies are also becoming more mission-centric, building cultures that resonate with the type of employees they want to attract. A hybrid arrangement allows workers to connect with a firm on their terms while feeding into the corporate culture.

Bottom line: This trend is expected to grow.  Total compensation addresses the total well-being of the employees as a pure standard.

3. Diversity and inclusion

Workplace demographics are changing. Diversity and inclusion are no longer lip speak; they drive and empower organizations.

As different generations (Millennials, boomers, traditionalists, and now Gen Z) converge within the same organization, each brings their own set of expectations, work styles, and skill sets. Employers must meet the demands of each generation, such as  pay equity, eliminating workplace discrimination, and achieving racial justice — which all form the employee’s holistic experience.

Employers are instilling practices to demonstrate they’re listening and aligning their actions. And companies who are implementing technology to help align their programs with their employees’ expectations are coming out on top. Tech tools are implemented to analyze compensation across the board, reduce bias or subconscious prejudice in the hiring process, and ensure fair and equitable pay.

Bottom Line: Companies that make these changes compete better, rise in rankings, and are more receptive to learning and growing. It’s a new age concept but should be standard practice.

4. Greater digital adoption

The most adaptable companies are utilizing new HR technologies in order to provide streamlined solutions to emerging trends. This includes technologies that help companies expand their outreach to candidates in less expensive geographic locations, address pay equity across the board while distilling industry information, automate tedious human resource functions, and allow People Ops teams to think more strategically in terms of building a holistic corporate culture.

74% of leaders plan to increase spending on HR tech.

Zenefits builds programs to scale your cultural needs and support your mission – handling payroll and the benefits footprint holistically.

Key takeaways for small and medium-sized businesses

The issues and challenges of the past 3 years created interesting opportunities for innovation. Employers learned quickly that differentiating and attracting top talent, while keeping employees happy, requires demonstrable change.

Here are a few tips to help small and medium-sized businesses attract top talent:

  • Create more flexibility. Adopt new practices and help employees find the right work-life balance.
  • Keep an open mind. To hang on to top talent, offer flexibility, be accommodating, and find the appropriate balance that ensures mutual value between the employee and employer.
  • Be ready for workers moving into contract roles. Contract roles are increasingly popular among all generations. 20% of Boomers, 53% of Gen Z have moved to contract roles.
  • Reevaluate your total well-being strategy. Think of your employee population holistically. Align processes, policies, and programs (i.e., 4-day work week).
  • Own diversity and inclusion. Develop standards that align with your company and employee values. Increase pay – it increases productivity and lowers worker attrition.
  • Set up focus groups within your firm to receive and assess honest feedback.
  • Lean into technology. Lessen the administrative burden so you can focus on more strategic initiatives, streamlining and automating processes, and growing.

For more of my interview with Ankur Patel on the changing workforce, please tune in to POPS! The People Ops Podcast, and be sure to share us with a friend.

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