10 Ways to Get an Edge in the “War for Talent” – Pt 1

Cropped studio shot of a group of businesspeople using wireless technology while waiting in line against a gray background

Let’s face it, a lot has changed about hiring in the last 20 years. Anyone who’s been in the industry for a few decades or more has seen this transformation first-hand. Once, highly skilled job seekers would line up in dozens for a chance at a great position and a hiring manager’s job was to jump them through hoops until the best candidates naturally rose to the top. But with the retirement of the Baby Boomers and the undeniably independent spirit of the millennials, businesses across the world are finding themselves scrambling for a shrinking number of professionals still willing and qualified to take office positions, triggering what we all fondly know as the “War for Talent” If you want to win this war for talent, all you really need is to understand the one secret most recruiters don’t want to talk about: Where the talent went.

Where Has All the Talent Gone?

The talented tech professionals aren’t suddenly “gone”. In fact, millennials are the most technologically gifted and diversely talented generation we have seen so far, though their younger siblings the Gen-Zs may top them in the next few years. There isn’t a deficit of millennial professionals to take the place of their retiring Boomer parents. They’re just all freelancing. It was found in 2017, that 47% of all working millennials were freelancing instead of applying for traditional office jobs. They saw their parents work themselves to the bone, miss countless soccer games and recitals, and retire exhausted and Millennials have the power of mobile collaboration and design software. These two factors are game-changing.

While the young workforce is notorious for their unusually strong work ethic, this doesn’t show up in traditional ways. They want to hone their skills, contribute to projects with meaning, and be a part of the technical community. They also don’t like to be tied down or held to rigid lifestyle standards when they could be working at home in their pajamas making almost as much money with an infinite amount more free time. With the right positions, policies and hiring style, you can find untapped talent while your competitors are still trying to poach the current industry names out from under each other. In fact, with the right approach, you can even earn the respect and appreciation of the other half of young professionals still taking full-time office positions.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we do and are here to help.

Assess Your Company Policies

Making your company more appealing to the untapped well of young professionals is a lot like how a flower makes itself attractive to honey bees. The flower needs the right color, smell, shape of petals, and to be open at the right time of day. Your business needs to have a good reputation as an employer, a welcoming environment, and policies that support employee freedom instead of restricting it. A certain amount of professionalism, company policy, and decorum are appropriate but a lot has changed about employment in the last few years so it’s not a bad idea to completely reassess your company policies.

Look through the handbook and HR rules and start to identify anything restrictive or even negatively worded in a way that sounds more like an angry school principle than an understanding boss. An example of a policy that you would want to revise might be a dress code policy that was written to stop a particular behavior or outfit.

Offer Build-Your-Own Benefits

Employment benefits used to be based on the idea that every working person was likely married with children to support and their benefits needs could be completely predicted because of this. However, as healthcare and the modern family structure become increasingly more complex, today’s top professionals have shown a preference for benefits packages they control and can build for themselves over trying to side-by-side compare prebuilt packages from two or three different potential employers.

Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all package, or only a few pre-built options, let employees pick and choose the benefits they want up to a certain value that you would cover for any employee. If you still want your package-deals, offer them as just another part of the options.

Transparency and Retirement Plans

Retirement plans are another aspect of employment today that has changed drastically in recent years. Not only are people losing a certain amount of faith in things like 401Ks and Social Security, but young professionals are more interested than their older colleagues in controlling their retirement savings rather than simply allowing their employer to decide when and how deposits will be made and into what type of account. While you don’t need to offer anything in addition, consider making your retirement plan very transparent and easy to assess for both current and future employees.

In reality, transparency should become one of your company watchwords in order to adapt to the younger workforce’s attitudes about employers. Remember that half of the entire young workforce would rather be freelancing which means that the more you make them feel ‘free’ inside the corporate structure, the more freelancers you may be able to catch and transform back into employees. Therefore, transparency is key to making the enclosed office environment feel as comfortably open as possible.

Flexible Hours and Remote-Friendly Positions

Once you have a tempting and transparent set of perks that could be made available to any employee almost anywhere, it’s time to start thinking about your feelings on remote positions. Some companies have little to no problems adapting to the overwhelming preference of millennials to work when and where they want to while others are staunchly against any work every happening outside the office.

Let us tell you in no uncertain terms, offering remote positions, flexible hours, and partially-remote positions are the key to snagging incredible young talent where your competitors only see ‘slackers’. While your contemporaries are insisting on 9-5 commute jobs, you could be making use of the generation’s top minds simply by accepting that they’d rather access the office collaboration software from their favorite coffee shop than commute to the office every day. And they’re good enough to pull it off or they wouldn’t be making it as freelancers.

[To be Continued contact us ]