Most companies face hiring and staffing challenges ahead of the holiday season, but the past two years have been especially difficult with the pandemic’s ripple effect creating the toughest hiring seasons on record. For instance, reports from the U.S. Labor Department indicate nearly 4.3 million workers voluntarily quit their jobs this past August. Despite there being ample job opportunities with employers offering better benefits and higher pay, many people remain hesitant to return to work. Many continue to experience post-pandemic burnout, others cannot find roles with the flexible schedule they need to accommodate their new post-pandemic lives and responsibilities, and many more simply haven’t found a company that they feel shares their values and cares about its employees.
With the holiday season already in full swing, many companies are finding themselves struggling to provide a high level of customer service due to these labor shortages. But, with many shopping days left this holiday season, there’s still an opportunity to attract prospective employees by demonstrating an understanding of the value of work-life balance, providing them with the tools needed to do their jobs effectively, and bringing their values to life. Here’s how:
Show that your company cares
Mental health is top of mind for today’s job seekers with many candidates prioritizing it over compensation when it comes to evaluating job opportunities. One way to convey your company’s core values is to start at the beginning – the job posting. Job seekers read hundreds of job postings during their search so a generic description of the job and a standard company boilerplate just won’t cut it these days. Take the time to evaluate your current job postings and update them to ensure your organizational ethos is communicated. Whether it’s the benefits your company offers, or specific commitments made to ensure each employee’s well-being – highlighting these efforts on top of day-to-day job tasks will illustrate how you care for employees.
According to a recent survey from my organization, TELUS International, mental health resources provided by employers are of utmost importance. When asked about the most helpful mental health and wellness resource that their employer provides or could provide, the top three included, access to a therapist, psychologist or counseling (39%); virtual workshops about health and wellness, and recommendations in a newsletter, and yoga and meditation classes (29%).
Pandemic burnout is real and the resources listed above can make a real difference to one’s well-being. According to McKinsey research, nearly half of employees surveyed say they’re feeling symptoms of being burned out at work. Burnout coupled with holiday stress, (88% of Americans believe the holidays are the most stressful time of the year), is holding many back from doing their job effectively, and some are expressing their frustration in online forums. These unflattering employee ‘reviews’, ratings and commentary can negatively impact your employer brand and stop individuals from applying. Today’s job seekers do their research, so companies should always prioritize engagement, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because your employees are the best ambassadors for you in the job market.
Use technology to make onboarding a breeze
Employees expect an organization to equip them with the right tools to do their jobs effectively. Leverage advanced technology to help streamline the hiring and onboarding process — and at the same time, show your prospective employees that your company is at the forefront of technology. For example, chatbots can be a great addition to your process. According to the same TELUS International research, 58% of Americans said bots would make the remote onboarding process easier and faster by handling IT setups and HR-related inquiries.
When it comes to onboarding, first impressions are critical. In a report that looked at employee onboarding as a global issue, 15% of workers turned down a job offer due to poor onboarding processes. Seasonal employees may only be with you for a few weeks or months, but their first impression of you as an employer will last forever. This means you have to make the most of your time with them to deliver a seamless and engaging employee experience – the right tools and technology will help.
Spread holiday cheer
Engaged employees are the foundation of a thriving organization. In an increasingly competitive environment, they can propel a company’s performance and drive innovation. So, despite the typical short timeframe in which a seasonal employee may be at your company, they should be treated as part of the full-time team, and be invited to participate in events and activities, team huddles and meetings, and recognition programs. It’s also important to keep in mind that seasonal employees are often the ideal candidates for future full-time roles. So make sure you’ve given them every reason to stay if the opportunity presents itself.
Engagement goes hand-in-hand with feeling connected. Humans want to belong, and supervisors and managers can help achieve this by scheduling time with their teams as a whole as well as 1:1 touch points. Providing feedback and recognizing a job well done is an important driver of engagement.
During the holiday season, consider offering special rewards to acknowledge the especially busy time and additional efforts put forth by employees. This not only shows them that you see the hard work being done, but encourages them and others to continue doing it. If possible, organize fun contests and activities for employees and their families. For example, last year we challenged our team members and their families to record themselves performing a holiday jingle and upload it to our internal social media platform. The family’s video that received the most votes won a professional photo session.
After more than 18 months, COVID-19 continues to affect a recovery of the job market. While employers may feel uncertain about what the future holds in this regard, there’s never been a more opportune time to review and update internal processes to recruit and engage new talent. By emphasizing company values, tech proficiency to better enable and support employees, and the prioritization of employee mental health, companies will be optimally positioned to successfully hire during the busy holiday season, and year-round.