The battle for employees today: how to attract and keep employees

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Fettig’s Grand Rapids office and main location. Courtesy Fettig

The tight labor market has been problematic for West Michigan employers. With no likelihood of it letting up soon, what changes can you make to compete? We can either believe the commentary that nothing can be done, or we can look inside our companies and identify what we can do to win. To win the battle, you have to realize competing for and retaining employees today is a battle!

Being that Fettig is a top employment agency in West Michigan, we see companies who are winning and others who are failing to attract and retain employees under these current conditions. We are granted this visibility by knowing our customers deeply and investing in their success. This visibility has helped us uncover the following tips and considerations to improve your recruitment and retention today.

Recruitment

If you think you’re only up against the factory next door, think again. Any nearby business that employs individuals with similar skill sets as you do is your competition, meaning the most qualified candidates have several opportunities to pick and choose from.

To stand out, the job post, interview and all communication in between must attest to your company’s uniqueness. This requires your interviewer to be a true spokesperson of company culture, values and benefits. However, none of it matters if your compensation isn’t in line.

Wage has been, and is, the number one priority for applicants applying to entry-level jobs and many midlevel roles. Paying the industry standard, or slightly above, is a minimum to gain ground in the recruitment battle.

We’ve seen firsthand that the quantity and quality of applicants increase incrementally as wage increases. In addition to wages, another area that can influence an applicant is improving the work environment, including lighting, breakrooms, paint, décor, ergonomics, etc. How can you improve your employees’ work environment?

Onboarding

It takes time and money to fill open positions, so to fall short on day one isn’t an option. Employees should receive a welcome packet with first day requirements and the training schedule, along with somebody to meet them when they arrive. Focusing on these details may seem minor, but they make a significant impact while setting a good tone for the week ahead. Are there areas to improve in your onboarding process?

After onboarding, the training of new employees is equally critical, as we never want to hear that employees don’t feel properly trained. We’ve seen success in standardized training programs that communicate consistent and clear expectations, both short and long term. This way, employees know what to strive for, which enables them to quickly become a contributing team member — isn’t that the goal?

Retention

Regardless of economic conditions, a solid retention strategy is crucial to keeping your most valued employees on board. We have found that employee perspective helps drive companies toward what needs to change to increase retention.

Many of our clients engage their employees through surveys to get their thoughts anonymously on what can improve. We often forget our employees are not necessarily seeking the same things as company leadership. After hearing their responses, you may be surprised to find that it’s not all about compensation.

In a recent survey, we found that Fettig associates view a comfortable work environment as a major consideration to stay with a company. While your employees may have different needs, their responses should guide your retention efforts. As employers, it’s in our best interest to balance the needs of the business with the needs of our workers. To do just that, we must uncover which changes are the smartest investment that will grant the largest returns.

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