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Recruitment crisis or retainment crisis? Which is companies’ biggest pain?

Raise your hand if you have heard this speech at least once in the past few months: “We want to hire great people at our company, but the talent pool is really limited.”

Maybe you heard someone on TV saying this, maybe you personally know managers going through this tough recruitment crisis, maybe you are one of those managers yourself, complaining about how hard it is to find the best people for your job openings.

Maybe you’re right.

Things have changed. Young people today expect to become managers overnight, they want raises after spending less than a year in your company, and they don’t seem to understand the concept of working hours. They generally have delusional expectations from employers, even before they’ve proved their worth to your company. And then they leave, when you least expect it, forcing you to start a new hiring process.

Managing today’s talent may be the hardest task for any manager, I’ll give you that.

But it’s really easy to blame others — HR, employees, candidates, the school system, society as a whole — for this high talent churn most companies have to deal with lately. Professional relationships are like love relationships: the recruitment process is like dating, signing a contract is like getting married. And when things don’t work out, it’s both parties’ fault. You simply can’t blame just one or just the other.

Recruitment is broken

There are many things a company can do to attract great talent. As long as they admit the traditional recruiting system is broken.

First, there’s the job ads. Too many essential requirements in a job ad are not that essential. They are just nice-to have. You know this (even if you don’t want to admit it), but plenty of possible candidates don’t. So they don’t even apply.

Or, the job ad is written in such a way it clearly favors a certain type of employee. So if they don’t identify with that type of employee, many great candidates don’t bother applying for the job, even if they meet all of the essential requirements.

Then, there are all those applicant tracking systems that only work around keywords. If a creative candidate doesn’t include in his/her resume the exact same keyword you set in the applicant tracking system, you won’t see that resume and neither the creativity of that candidate.

Let’s not forget about the career pages on company websites. If the website sells products or services, managers try to optimize the buyer’s journey as much as possible. But if job candidates quit the page in the middle of an application form, few people notice this, and even fewer do something about it.

But the cherry on top of everything is the actual interviewing phase. Too many times it stretches over too long a period of time, communication mishaps abound, some interview questions shouldn’t be asked in the first place, professional tests go over the limit. Any candidate with some level of self-esteem will leave the recruiting pipeline if they are mistreated during this interviewing phase.

And more often than not, those managers that complain about the limited talent pool and the recruitment crisis are the same that drive talented candidates away through the broken recruiting system they insist on using.

You may consider the recruiting process in your company doesn’t have any of the above flaws and you have no problem in filling in new job positions. If this is true, I’m glad for everyone in your company.

But even though the recruitment crisis may affect only some organizations…

The retainment crisis is real

And it affects all types of organizations, no matter their size. Private companies, NGOs or government institutions, hospitals, oil platforms, mining companies, factories, or businesses in the knowledge-based industries — they all have to deal with high employee turnover rates.

That’s because more and more employees realize how much power they have. The days when employers were mighty and employees were supposed to be happy just because they had a job are starting to disappear into the mist of the past.

The modern employees know their value on the market and have a few expectations from their employers as well. If their working needs aren’t met, they won’t hesitate to go somewhere else, or start their own entrepreneurial journey.

Today’s employees are both the fresh graduates that don’t know what to do with their lives yet, and those experienced people who tackle thorny issues at work, solve real problems and make their organizations profitable. If they don’t get support in their professional development, nor recognition for their hard work, they will sooner or later start looking for pastures new. They know they always have a choice.

So what are companies to do?

The answer is simple: they need to invest in trust, and they need to treat employees humanly.

But what is trust anyway, and what does “treating employees humanly” actually mean? How can all this be measured, and how can this shift prove to solve the recruitment and retainment crises?

Both these things are not at all measurable, but they’re vital to creating and maintaining great professional relationships between employers and employees.

Humanizing the recruitment process

In a recruitment process that treats employees humanly candidates are not required to fill in tens of fields in an online application form detailing their previous work experience, only to be asked to upload their resume at the end, with the exact same information.

Also, if they get to the interviewing phase, they shouldn’t be met with a series of scripted questions that sound more like a police interrogation than an honest conversation about how they can help the hiring company solve a certain problem.

Offering work recognition

And once they’re on board, their work shouldn’t be taken for granted. Recognition for a job well done goes a long way.

From a genuine “thank you for going the extra mile and solving this issue”, or “if it weren’t for how you’ve handled this situation we would be in big trouble now”, to a raise, appreciating the work of employees should not be something that happens once in a blue moon.

Allowing work flexibility

Allowing more flexibility in terms of working hours or places is another way of appreciating employees. This may not be possible for all companies in all industries, but all employees do have a personal life outside work.

As long as their performance doesn’t suffer, the exact number of working hours or the location of the desk they’re working from should not be top priorities. Some of the best companies to work for not only go for flexible programs, but they go as far as offering unlimited paid vacation days.

Supporting continuous learning

Continuous learning opportunities at work are another aspect that keeps employees engaged in their jobs. Professional development is a top concern for the modern employee.

Whether you enroll them in specific training courses through your company LMS or allow them to follow third-party courses that makes them get better at their jobs, they’ll seriously consider spending more time with the same employer.

Trusting your employees

Last but not least, don’t forget that trust is not something you can buy. You can’t expect your employees to trust you and the company you represent just because. In order to win their trust, you have to trust them first.

You hired them because they had great potential or because they proved they can help your company grow. They have skills that you don’t have. So you should trust their judgement and let them do their jobs as they consider best.

Trust is probably the best way to nurture great and long-lasting employee-employer relationships.

In the end…

All these things will not make employee turnover rates become zero. Sometimes, it’s best that some people leave. They may join another organization in a totally different industry, or they may join another team in a different department.

But if you commit to humanizing the recruitment process, offering work recognition, allowing more flexibility, supporting continuous learning opportunities and putting trust at the core of your organization, the recruitment and retainment crises will disappear into the mist of the past.

Recruiting and retaining the best talent can be the most beautiful and fulfilling task for any manager.