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“We all know that work will never be the same, even if we don’t yet know all the ways in which it will be different.”Stewart Butterfield, CEO and co-founder, Slack

COVID-19 has had an enormous toll on the global workforce, and ultimately, it’s changed the business landscape forever. In labour markets across the world, there has been an “acute talent shortage”, which has affected the UK, US, and beyond. In particular, the candidate experience is now radically different, and the global pandemic made many reassess their priorities and expectations. Therefore, employers looking to attract and retain top talent must ensure what they’re offering is now in line with peoples’ needs as free coffee and pool tables will no longer cut it.

We’ve compiled six key factors you should consider implementing and highlighting to ensure you’re viewed as a desirable employer in a post-COVID world.

1) Flexibility

Globally, over a year after the pandemic began fully, the percentage of people wanting to go back to the workplace either partly or fully is now at 78%, according to Randstad.

The way we work will never be the same again, with hybrid working now dominating the demands put forward by employees. A blended approach to office work is popular and one that many employees wish to have where 85% of people want some kind of a flexible work arrangement.

All you need to do is browse LinkedIn to see the sheer number of people advocating for either full-time or part-time remote working opportunities. Executives are increasingly praised for offering flexible approaches to office work, and hiring managers are continually offering situation-dependent location work. Embracing hybrid employment is just one way that employers are changing how they operate and the kinds of favourable benefits they use to attract (and retain) prospective employees.

Whilst some employees prefer office work, if a business wants an competitive advantage in attracting top talent employers should ensure greater flexibility now and long into the future. This means that flexible working arrangements are neither a trend or a temporary benefit that employers should consider for talent acquisition. Rather, embracing these changes long term can improve retention rates and recreate the image of an employer as more ‘progressive’.

Flexibility doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing for every employer and employee. This thrust to a hybrid office, whereby employees are offered remote working opportunities, is now considered one of the greatest challenges facing employers.

2) Workplace stability

The stability you offer as an employer should be demonstrated in two ways.

Firstly, when looking to attract new employees, you must ensure that you’re showcasing the operational stability of your business.

As so many employers have had to shut their doors over the last year, understandably many are incredibly wary of joining a new company as they fear for its longevity.

Be sure to demonstrate the dominance you hold in your sector and the vision you have for the future.

Secondly, those joining a new business want security in their job role.

With unemployment rapidly rising, the fear of a department downsizing with little notice is a very real anxiety for businesses.

Like demonstrating the stability of your business, do the same for any job roles you’re looking to fill by highlighting potential growth, training and progression opportunities.

Show potential candidates that this isn’t a quick job for the short-term, rather a career that they can grow in and explore.

3) Transparency

Whether a new employee was previously unemployed or onboarding from their current position in another organization, they’re required to place quite a high level of trust in your business.

To repay this trust, you should be upfront and transparent with potential candidates. In fact, Tiny Pulse found that transparency is the number one factor contributing to employee happiness.

Don’t over embellish your business’ position and experience. If you’ve recently faced some challenges and had to make changes, it’s best to be upfront and give candidates the whole picture.

In the long run, transparency and honesty will do much more for your reputation and image.

4) Understand your younger talent

Employees of the Gen Z age (1996-2010) are those most struggling right now. Home working meant a lot of them were working in their childhood homes, in potentially riskier job roles and in newer job roles. They were also feeling more isolated and struggling with work , especially as wellbeing at work has become a considerable talking point over recent years.

Attracting Gen Z, the first generation of the internet, has become a new challenge, and with the proposition of remote work and no networking, younger talent is harder to attract and retain.

When it in doubt, focus on your operation’s stability and transparency. Connect younger talent with relevant people, especially potential mentors, within the business and bring them in to the office for networking.. While they are an internet generation, younger talent still values personal connections and a physical sense of culture that exists between colleagues.

Younger talent values wellbeing at work as a top priority, from mental health awareness to an increased focus on diversity in wellbeing. Younger generations value proactive, regular mentorship as this kind of scheme is a great platform for professional learning. For this generation, talent can feel like they’re in a drowning job market against an uncertain backdrop, and having someone experienced in their field to guide them and offer advice provides them with hope and a sense of security.

5) Create personal connections

Job hiring and talent acquisition happens increasingly less around digital job-boards and has become more focused on personal connections through sites such as LinkedIn and referral. Noted anecdotally at first, this trend has been confirmed through research showing that company websites are most popular for hiring, followed by professional social networks coming in second.

Finding talent is best done through networks and those who know candidates. A LinkedIn profile is much more personable than a job board posting, and allows a candidate to explore the company culture, people who work there as well as view information around the company.

The other bonus for recruitment here is the reduced cost, as LinkedIn can be used for free, with no need to pay. It also provides an interactive CV as such, and is used to understand the sort of topics a person is discussing and is interested in.

Connecting with people using an individualized touch is proving popular post COVID. It’s important to not only discuss your own personal interests, but ensure the company shares it’s wins and market differentiators. While COVID has forced some companies to steady the ship as such, now as we return to offices and open up again, it’s important to share updates to attract top talent.

6) Focus on retention

Talent management is often prioritised on acquiring new talent, such as onboarding younger employees to diversify the skills available to an organisation. Whilst ongoing talent acquisition can be beneficial for a business, especially one that has a demand for innovation and new ideas, retention can be a powerful tool. Focussing on your existing talent might mean readdressing your current benefit and compensation scheme and benchmarking it against the market to ensure that you remain competitive.

For many industries, such as retail, retention has become the immediate priority. Retention can play a key role in your growth strategy, as it focusses on nurturing and caring for loyal employees.

What employers should focus on, as the landscape undergoes even more changes, is how internal talent can be upskilled and trained to further drive your operation. Retention should be a project for any employer, as much as it’s a verb – that means actively working with your talent to inspire their work and how they develop professionally.

How IRIS HR Consulting can help

Taking into account these updated priorities alongside traditional benefits is no easy task, especially as COVID-19 is continuing to change everything at a rapid pace.

But don’t worry, IRIS HR Consulting is here to help, offering specialist guidance and support that we’ve developed from years of experience.

We’re experts in recruitment, and our team are ready to support with their vast amount of cultural knowledge and expertise. To find out how IRIS can help your business, get in touch today, or explore our service.