Attracting and keeping talent. A (more) positive follow up

Written by Stefan Kašanin

I wrote my first ever LinkedIn article a few weeks back and it did much better than I anticipated. It seemed to strike a chord with candidates and recruiters alike about some of the bullshit surrounding recruitment. The most annoying part? There isn’t any real reason that things are like that. We can change them.

I won’t lie, I wrote it after seeing another boring post moaning about how candidates had dropped out of a 3 stage, multiple hour-long and test-driven recruitment process – for a temp retail role.

It pissed me off. I thought “how the hell do people think that’s the best way to recruit?!” so I pointed out a few truths that a lot of recruiters and hiring managers need to know. It was a bit of a rant, so here are some positive nudges in the right direction.

1. Read my previous article.

Take your recruitment process and chuck it in the bin. Start from scratch and please TRY to put everything you think you know aside when you write your new one.

2. Ask yourself, are your current employees happy? I mean genuinely.

Spoiler alert: Aside from a handful of companies and teams, the real answer is probably not. They might not all be walking out of the door or jumping out the window but if I change the question to “is there anything I can do to make my employees happier?” then I’m pretty confident the answer will be a resounding yes.

Within reason of course – you need to make your company a better place to work. We don’t all work at Google or Innocent or Salesforce (identified as good to work for by a quick ask around the office) or places with slides and pubs and theme parks in our offices. That’s OK. It doesn’t excuse you expecting your employees to work in a boring shithole of an environment though.

Think practically and – I’m going to keep coming back to this one – ask your employees! Improve it for them and not only will you be doing less of that recruitment you hate oh-so-much, you might even get a few people talking about what a wonderful place to work it is.

This applies whether it’s a games studio, a bank or a cardboard box factory (I genuinely worked in one of these once. Ask me about it). Take a real hard look at your culture and environment, get advice from your employees or a professional or both and make a positive change. I can’t stress enough how much this will make a difference.

Your staff will stay longer, people will know your company is a great place to work. Who knows, maybe you’ll even enjoy things a bit more and that’s only going to have a positive effect. Be honest with yourself about this and put a bit of effort into it for everyone’s sake. No half-arsed beer fridges or pool tables, think outside the box.

3. Rethink your remuneration and benefits packages.

There’s so much talk about how money isn’t everything and doesn’t motivate people, but I’m sorry – it’s important. The main reason is people want to enjoy their actual lives. You know, those things people do outside of work? Have fun, travel, raise kids, buy a house. Hell, the cost of property alone should be enough to give salaries a well-needed boost across the board.

But seriously, if you’re paying below market rate you are having a laugh. If you can’t afford to pay market rate, review your business model because it’s not working. If the company’s going through a rough patch, chances are your employees will stick with you through it IF they felt valued in the first place.

Share your success, give people a bonus or raise – and here’s the important part – even when you think you can get away with not doing it. Don’t be a miser. If they don’t deserve a raise, why are they working for you at all? Don’t you only hire the best talent from your awesome recruitment process? (see point 1)

Aside from money – there are literally hundreds of things you can offer your employees. Don’t offer flexi-time? You’re missing out on who knows how many amazing people who also happen to be parents who want to see their kids. And why? Because everyone else works those hours and always have? Brilliant reasoning. If everyone else isn’t doing it, then now is the time to differentiate yourself – before everyone else does. Trust me on this one.

The same applies to remote working. Just stop having policies for no reason. Question everything and why it’s that way – does it have to be? Unlikely.

Put the things you know you can’t change aside, and make an effort to change the things you can. The difference will be huge. Again, ask your staff what they want. Don’t assume – it’s only going to waste your time and money on crap they don’t want.

4. Play the long game

This ties in with everything. You forecast everything else in your business and make plans, but why does everyone get caught with their pants down when they need to hire? You’re carrying on and hoping no one leaves. Then, when they do, your life gets hard because you have to start that recruitment process again. The one you’re an expert in but keep failing because it’s all the candidate’s fault (bloody millennials). You know the one.

If you’re looking after people, it’s really crazy but they don’t want to leave!

Of course, people will always move on eventually. But there are controllable factors.

  • You pay well? They won’t leave for more money.
  • You offer progression? They won’t leave for a promotion.
  • You offer flexible working? They aren’t going to go somewhere that doesn’t.
  • You offer remote work? They aren’t going to get sick of their commute.

The list goes on. Managing your talent is so much more than hiring the right person, it’s a long game. Stay 2 moves ahead.

Pro tip: employing a self-important HR Manager with ancient ideas who loves shitty processes is not the solution. You know the ones. If you’ve got one of those, get rid immediately and hire someone with some fresh ideas.

Oops, more recruitment! It’s an investment with fantastic returns. Trust me, I’m a Recruiter.

5. Lose the ego

It’s not just when hiring that you need to do this. Your people are your business, and you are not doing them a favour employing them. Having a job isn’t a luxury, having top talent is.

I know your job’s really hard and you’re so busy and such an expert, but don’t try and do everything. Concede that you’re not an expert recruiter.

It should be said, you know the way you think I probably couldn’t do your job properly? You can’t do mine properly. That’s your ego again. Put your hand in your pocket and get someone to help you. It doesn’t make you a bad boss. The recruitment industry wouldn’t exist if everyone was so good at hiring. Your 100 direct applications from indeed aren’t fooling anyone mate.

I’m not going to go on. I know this seems like so much work, and it is. But just like when you put off doing something at home and it becomes a huge job. Recruitment and employment ideas have stagnated for decades and are in terrible shape.

Stop doing things a certain way because that’s how it’s always been. The guys doing well at it have realised they need to think outside the box. Keep up – it’s only going to keep changing.

The rulebook needs to be rewritten. (and be subject to constant review as well as occasional burning and rewriting).

Seriously, look at this with an open mind. Practically every process gets improved over time, don’t think that getting and keeping the best talent is going to stay the same forever. If you care about your business, care about your staff – they are your business.

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