4 Keys to hiring and retaining employees in a challenging job market

LaVonne Olsen, Senior Vice President, Human Resources Director at Peoples Bank says there are many strategies to improve employee hiring and retention in a challenging market.

LaVonne Olsen, Senior Vice President, Human Resources Director at Peoples Bank says there are many strategies to improve employee hiring and retention in a challenging market.

By LaVonne Olsen, Peoples Bank

The pandemic continues to create pain points for small and medium-sized businesses — including new challenges in hiring and retaining employees. Labor shortages are disrupting almost every industry, primarily driven by the complexities of pandemic life, such as issues related to childcare, health and safety, and new perspectives. For companies like us that aspire to be people-focused, creating a welcoming culture and caring for employees can be especially challenging in a remote-work environment. There are no cookie-cutter solutions, but employers can make changes necessary to attract and retain quality personnel.

1. Increase wages and update benefits

This is the most competitive and unpredictable recruiting market I’ve seen in my 30-year career in HR. Peoples Bank just increased its minimum wage, which allows us to offer a living wage to early career professionals while also staying competitive. I’m very happy to see that more employers are providing a living wage environment. However, increasing entry-level wages could skew compensation for seasoned employees, so it’s important to find a balance. Signing and retention bonuses may be part of your strategy too.

Recruiters aren’t just competing against higher wages; they’re also competing against life and the balancing act of responsibilities employees are facing during the pandemic. Employers should consider offering other benefits that meet the needs of their employees, such as:

  • Added time off
  • Flexible work hours
  • Work from home options
  • Customized benefits, such as flexible wellness dollars for childcare, elder care, health, etc., or age-appropriate pension and student loan compensation.

2. Accelerate the recruiting process

To secure quality candidates, you must move fast. It’s crucial to get job postings and offers out quickly. In this time of remote hiring, it’s also critical that your brand is communicated effectively and consistently across all platforms, so prospective employees get an accurate sense of your culture from your job ad, website, social media channels, and interviews. This brand experience should continue throughout the entire employment life cycle, including after the candidate is hired and onboarded.

3. Support remote team building

Without face-to-face interactions, it’s harder to retain employees. How can you make new employees hired during the pandemic feel like they’re part of a team when they’ve never been in the same room as their co-workers? Training managers on how to interact effectively with people over video conferencing is one tool. Over-communicating with your team to ensure people feel heard and have a safe space for open conversations about their needs and fears can also help employees feel connected and supported.

4. Close the training gaps

Remote work has highlighted training gaps that weren’t obvious before. We took for granted how much employees learn and grow by having conversations in the office and asking spontaneous questions — it’s a lot easier to point over someone’s shoulder in the moment than share screens. Look at your onboarding process and create new training materials to fill in the gaps, so employees feel supported every step of the way.

LaVonne Olsen is Senior Vice President, Human Resources Director at Peoples Bank. Peoples Bank is a locally owned and operated, independent full-service community bank with 23 branches throughout Washington. Find your local branch and learn more at peoplesbank-wa.com.

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