With talent shortages at an all-time high, companies are thinking outside the box to come up with solutions to hire and retain team members. LBMC experts recently weighed in on the challenges employers are facing when seeking new talent for their teams and how they are working to overcome them.

Here are some key tips and takeaways.

1. Offer flexibility when possible.

As more employers allowed remote work during the pandemic, much of the workforce got used to having better “work life integration.” Employees experienced the benefits that came from being able to put dinner in the oven or throw in a load a laundry and hop back on the computer to complete their work. Perhaps even more impactful was the elimination of commutes, which gave people additional time to focus on work and made their jobs more efficient overall. As a result, recruiters are increasingly finding that some candidates don’t even look at opportunities without a remote or hybrid option.

In general, the more flexibility a company can offer, the larger the pool of prospective candidates they will have. If you can offer them, providing remote, hybrid and flex options to new team members will go a long way in your talent acquisition strategy.

2. Communicate clearly and manage expectations.

For many employers, remote or hybrid work is simply not an option for much of their workforce. Some industries, such as manufacturing and health care, have roles that by nature have to be onsite to do their jobs. For these employers, navigating work arrangements can be particularly challenging if they also have roles, such as administrative or office managers, who are not required to be in the office to get the work done.
So how do employers with front-line workers handle the roles that could be hybrid or full remote? The key is communicating clearly, setting realistic expectations and explaining the reasons behind your decisions. Different work arrangements don’t necessarily have to be fair, but they should be equitable. Letting your team members know the why will help them understand the rules. Even if they don’t agree with your decision, they will be more likely to accept it.

3. Be open to one-off requests.

If you find a strong candidate for a role you are trying to fill, be open to special requests. Recruiters are finding that when it comes to hiring, taking the long view pays off. In a recent example, one company found success getting a one-off approval for a prospective hire to work a hybrid schedule when others were 100% in-office. The employer couldn’t afford to pass up the skills and experience of the candidate, and an offer was made with the option to work a partial remote schedule.

Take time to evaluate your policies and listen to your team members. In today’s market, providing options for your workforce may be more important to adhering to existing company practices.

4. Manage remote employees appropriately.

If you have team members that work remotely, make sure your leaders are trained on the differences in managing employees that are physically in the office on a daily basis versus working remote. Frequent, consistent communication is critical, and engagement is necessary to drive results and retention. Having systems in place will help ensure the work is getting done properly and on time. Set expectations on the front- end when hiring a team member in a remote setting, and make sure everyone is on board.

5. Remove the one-size-fits-all lens.

While much of the conversation over the last two years has been around remote work, it’s important to keep in mind that not all individuals want to work from home. Rather, a subset would prefer to be in the office. Some recognize they are more productive in an office setting, gain energy from being with others, or like to separate work from home for various reasons. Others also see the benefits of receiving mentorships and a potentially better chance of getting noticed for advancement opportunities more readily when face-to-face with management. As you look at your hiring strategy, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. It truly comes down to the individual.

6. Pay attention to market demand.

Another notable trend is rising salary numbers. In fact, one recruiter mentioned an approximate 20% increase in starting salaries for accounting graduates over just two years ago, while another panelist shared data on $60 – $70K starting salaries for B-level accounts payable positions. More experienced roles are also demanding higher pay.

Even for employers with increased budgets and the ability to pay higher salaries, finding talent at certain levels of experience is a challenge. As you look to fill positions at all levels, be aware of what the market will bear and determine whether you are willing to pay it.

7. Consider market adjustments for your team.

Employers are finding it may not be enough to look at salaries of new talent joining their organization; it’s just as important to review the current compensation of their existing teams. One tactic that is proving successful involves reviewing data around current market salaries across industry, geographic region, and even nationally, and making market adjustments to create better alignment. These adjustments are separate from annual performance salary increases and should be noted as such.

If you decide to go this route, make sure you document the adjustments in writing and show them as two separate line items, making it clear that a portion of the increase is a market adjustment and will not necessarily take place the following year.

8. Rethink roles.

While certain roles require a CPA, it’s beneficial to look closely at the actual work being performed in roles across your organization. For example, if the position requires a CPA, what percentage of the time is the employee spending doing CPA-type work? Look at the possibility of shifting the portion of more tactical, clerical, and repetitive work to a less expensive role. By realigning the work to meet the salary expectation, you will not only save money, but also increase retention.

9. Stay connected.

According to The Work Institute, candidates typically don’t leave a job because of money; most leave because they are unhappy with their manager/leadership or don’t see career development opportunities for themselves within the organization. The Work Institute also found there was a higher percentage of employee engagement during the pandemic, as employers showed care and concern and afforded the flexibility their teams needed.

As we came out of the pandemic and employee engagement dropped, employers should not lose sight of staying connected with their teams. Communicating regularly is key to a strong culture and will lead to higher engagement and retention.

For more information about how LBMC can help you with your staffing and talent needs, contact us here or reach out to one of our experts below.

Sherrie Whatton is the president and strategic partner-in-charge of LBMC Staffing Solutions, LLC, a Tennessee staffing firm that takes a strategic approach to recruiting – working closely with both candidates and employers to find the best fit for both parties involved in the hiring process. She can be reached at sherrie.whatton@lbmc.com.

Originally posted in the Nashville Business Journal