In 2022, recruitment and retention require a new focus and approach
An acute labor shortage, a scarcity of skilled talent to meet the demands of the future, along with an unprecedented exodus of labor, dubbed the “Great Resignation” has made 2022 a year where recruitment and retention require a new focus and approach.
The solution? It begins and ends with your company culture. Today’s prospective employees are doing their homework, and they want to ensure that your organization delivers on expectations: a harassment-free culture that demonstrates inclusivity. Consider the recent SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey, where nearly 80% of workers said they want to work for a company that values diversity, equity and inclusion.
The Great Resignation or the Great Reshuffle?
As we roll through the first quarter of 2022, the Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM) offers this analysis on the scarcity of talent, “The Great Resignation continues along a historic path among all previously reported years of quits data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” Statistics show that “Last year, an average of more than 3.95 million workers quit their jobs each month, meaning 2021 holds the highest average on record, topping the 2019 average of 3.5 million.”
But there’s an important twist. Yes, millions of people are leaving their jobs and some of them are dropping out of the job market altogether (i.e., early retirement, child/elder care). But the vast majority are looking to switch to a job that better supports their needs and more clearly aligns with their values.
A study by SHRM found that while the turnover rate has jumped rapidly, most U.S. workers who quit in the last nine months didn’t do so rashly. Sixty-nine percent had lined up a new job before they walked out the door, the study showed. “People are searching for better compensation, better benefits or a better career path. They are not necessarily quitting just to quit,” said Ragan Decker, Ph.D., senior researcher of strategic research initiatives for SHRM.
That’s why some economists are suggesting that the Great Resignation is more accurately described as the Great Reshuffle. In other words, people are willing to put their livelihood on the line in search of work that can provide them with a better life. For companies, the way forward is clear: to stay competitive in this job market, organizations must do more than ever before to attract and retain employees.
Why are people leaving and what will make them stay? Your culture has a lot to do with it.
A harassment-free work environment is the platform for culture change
By its nature, a human-centric culture is attentive to the individual needs of the employee. It values diversity, drives equity, fosters a sense of belonging and supports inclusivity. It also puts the focus on emotional well-being. At its core, the well-being of your employees is based on having them feel safe, comfortable and able to bring their authentic selves to work.
Above all else, a healthy culture starts by ensuring that your work environment is harassment-free. Before companies can pursue the loftier goals of creating an elevated culture, they must first make every effort to establish and maintain a work environment that is not only free of blatant harassment but which also creates awareness of its critical precursors and gray areas that may be difficult to interpret. That includes such behaviors as microaggressions which may take the form of snide remarks, constant badgering, or other actions that may serve to minimize others.
Sadly, even with the many advancements organizations have made in these past few years, harassment continues to be an issue. Results of a recent survey with full-time US employees indicated that: 44% experienced harassment at work in the form of personal harassment and bullying, discriminatory harassment and bias, online harassment and cyberbullying; 48% have witnessed others experience harassment at work; 52% have not felt psychologically safe at work and 34% left a job because of unresolved harassment issues.
The power of the learning mindset
A framework that activates all parts of the organization
- Commit to, and then develop, a bespoke diversity, equity and inclusion strategy—Assess past DEI efforts to learn from successes and failures. Define what DEI means within the context of your organization. Establish your ambitions, goals, priorities and determine measurements. Get buy-in from leadership, include managers in your planning and set expectations for accountability. Create a listening culture where everyone feels valued and supported. Prepare to manage pockets of resistance.
- Build an inclusive program designed around employee experiences—Re-evaluate and adjust recruitment, onboarding and evaluation processes to ensure inclusivity. (See below for more on this.) Ensure that your plan is cognizant of dynamics and issues that underrepresented employees may face. Weed out microaggressions and focus on uncovering and harnessing the value of diversity.
- Create an enabling environment where all employees are part of the solution—Draw in employees by emphasizing that inclusion benefits everyone. Create an understanding that people can experience the same workplace in very different ways. Develop a common framework to understand and discuss how exclusion happens. Provide tools and strategies that help employees to trust and support each other. Realize that this is a journey and it takes work for people to fully value and incorporate the unfamiliar.
Adjusting processes to be more inclusive
- Broaden recruitment strategies—Target a recruitment pool reflective of diversity targets. Consider such strategies as looking for candidates at different schools in geographic areas that are rich with diversity. Expand your search by posting on different job boards and make use of social media for recruitment.
- Select the right recruitment tools—There’s a belief that AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools are automatically free of bias. Not so. Consider that people set up AI systems and as a result, some bias may be built in. Adjust and regularly check your AI recruitment tools to ensure they are designed with inclusivity in mind, such as avoiding exclusionary language or forcing choices about gender and race.
- Adjust job descriptions—Revamp your job descriptions to focus on job essentials. Do that by offering functional and skill-based descriptions that relate directly to the work. Consider whether requirements like a 4-year degree are truly necessary or just carry-overs from the past. Avoid painting a narrow picture of the perfect candidate, as this may screen out potential talent.
- Remove bias from the interview and selection process—DEI requires people to embrace differences, expanding beyond the comfort zone of homogeneity. Experts at McKinsey suggest, “Language can be an early red flag—for example, conversations about a candidate’s cultural fit. Always ask if there is any evidence that suggests something truly differentiates between good and lackluster performers. If not, it has no business being in the conversation.”
- Infuse inclusivity into onboarding—The employee experience with onboarding sets the stage for how they will view the company and whether they will gain a sense of belonging to its culture and attachment to its mission and vision. Ensure that those first few weeks and months are filled with moments that support meaningful connections with other employees, extending beyond their immediate team.
- Create equitable opportunities for advancement—Give everyone the opportunity to succeed based on value creation. Instead of annual reviews, consider implementing a process for ongoing coaching and support where employees and their managers can regularly check in on progress and direction. Create clarity for the employee around opportunities to advance and grow.
- Respond to individual needs of the employee—While company-wide policies are an important way for organizations to stay consistent and equitable, they must be balanced by affording flexibility to the individual employee whenever possible, based on both need and preference. That flexibility could be the difference between a valued employee choosing to stay or leave.