Let’s be honest. The last two years have been brutal. The COVID-19 pandemic continues, a lot of us haven’t seen a majority of our co-workers in person since 2020, and many businesses continue to cut back, not by choice but as a result of the hard hit they’ve taken to their bottom line. What, if anything, can save the day or even morale during a time like this? The power of public relations. In today’s Plain Talk article, we look at how you can once again get your organization back on track with recruitment and retention while also continuing to advance your brand.
The Gap Widens
Here’s a not-so-fun fact: millions of men and women have left the workforce since the pandemic began. In February 2021, data from the Labor Department showed that 2.5 million women and 1.8 million men dropped out of the labor force during the pandemic. Whether for childcare issues, layoffs, or just feeling like we’re all part of the movie “Groundhog Day” one too many times, some took a step back to reevaluate.
However, it might not only be these workers who need to refresh. What about your organization? Now is the perfect time to look closely at what your business has to offer new talent and how to truly stand out. Sure, the talent pool may seem slimmer than normal at the moment, but that will eventually change as many of these workers find the right time to head back to the workforce. And when they do, you want to be prepared. Not only that, but you also want to retain the employees you currently have. It’s time to stop thinking of recruitment and retention as just a human resources issue. HR and PR must work together to really create a solid strategy to keep you ahead of the game.
Advancing Your Brand
Hiring the best of the best, especially during a global pandemic, doesn’t have to be tricky. But it should be strategic. According to Betterteam, 48% of CEOs said their companies have lost money due to inefficient recruiting. I think it’s safe to assume that nobody, especially now, has time, or even the extra budget, to make a bad hire. That’s why your HR and PR teams should be joining forces to help build your overall brand awareness and lessen the likelihood of this happening.
Here’s how your organization can get started:
1. Talk about yourself. Now is not the time to avoid talking about the great things you have going on with your workplace. Your organization just won a big award? Consider a press release. You made a significant hire in your industry? Consider a press release. You have big news to share? You get the hint. Don’t be afraid to talk about it because there will come a time when you have an opening and you need strong, quality candidates, and what your organization has said about itself will matter. If it’s very little, don’t expect to stand out. But if you’ve invested in public relations and social media, and you’ve made sure to consistently talk about the great work your organization is doing both internally and externally, you’re setting your organization up for success.
2. Stand out on social media. When it comes to recruitment, are you effectively leveraging your social media channels? It takes more than posting “every now and then.” It takes strategy. Some of the best social media brands like Wendy’s or Airbnb, make it look so easy. Their content is consistent and strong. Wendy’s will give you a good laugh. Airbnb will leave you in awe of their photography. But these two brands, which are very different (chicken nuggets vs. a vacation rental), actually have so much in common. They understand the value of strategy and have clear goals for their posts. And they stand out from their competitors.
What does that matter, you may ask? According to Glassdoor, 79% of job applicants use social media in their job search. Potential employees are looking at your pages and deciding if they can see themselves among your team. It’s taking them just a few minutes to decide if they are the right fit, and from there, they’ve made up their mind about you. What do your social media pages say about your workplace? Does your brand even stand out? How the potential employee perceives you will largely be in part to what they find when stalking you online, so make sure you have a good story to tell. Make sure the content is there. (For more on the importance of social media in your marketing plan, check out an article we wrote last year: click here)
3. Don’t forget your current employees. Sure, you want to hire the best of the best in your industry and be prepared for when that wave of talent that left the workforce decides that they will return, but don’t forget the employees you already have. According to the Harvard Business Review, employees expect continued flexibility after the pandemic ends. They also want to feel supported. As a workplace, what do you bring to the table to keep employees engaged and happy? Are you just maintaining the status quo? Because if so, you’re likely falling behind.
Many people feel as if they’ve been in the same routine for two years now, and to be honest, they are burned out. They are looking for a change, and watching to see what, if any, policies or updates workplaces enact to tackle important issues like mental health, burnout, working from home, flexibility, etc. This doesn’t mean you have employees who are necessarily about to jump ship, but it does mean you should be doing all you can to right the ship if you’ve done nothing so far to help with burnout or morale.
Remember those fun, in-person events you once offered people before the pandemic? Find ways to get that engagement going again. For instance, during the first year of the pandemic, we were so tired of working from home, and many people felt isolated from the rest of the workplace by not regularly seeing colleagues. Our leadership decided to surprise all staff by placing appreciation signs in our yards at home. Our CEO personally drove around to homes and placed them there, along with a top-secret team he pulled together to carry out the surprise. What difference did the signs make? A big one. People felt valued. They felt that their workplace cared. And they were proud to work for them.
Yes, we continue to battle a never-ending (please end soon) pandemic, but there are still ways to engage your employees and show that you value them. Mental health is a topic you should be talking about if you aren’t already. According to a Society for Human Resource Management survey of 1,099 employees, more than 40% of employees were feeling hopeless, burned out, or exhausted as a result of the pandemic. Look for ways to not only boost morale but to tackle issues like mental health and exhaustion. What will this do? It will show your team you are listening, are supporting them, and ultimately, will make it harder for them to leave a job if they know they are truly valued.
Time for Strategy!
If you’ve gotten this far in the article and can say you are doing all these things, recruitment and retainment should be a piece of cake for you. But if you are like most organizations out there, there is always room for improvement. What goals do you currently have to bring in the best talent and keep the strong talent on your roster? How are you going above and beyond to make your team feel valued during a global crisis? What else can you do? First, start with strategy. It’s time to bring your HR, PR and marketing team together to map out the next 12 months. Align your communications and HR efforts, and watch your brand continue to grow.
If you have any questions or need assistance supercharging your recruitment and retention strategy, we’re here to help. Give us a call at 502-499-4209 or contact us here.