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Strategies to Attract & Retain Employees During and After COVID-19

Your organization is most likely experiencing some level of economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the Pacific Northwest, we see companies struggling to keep up and stretching themselves in ways they have never experienced before or anticipated a few months ago. Including those that had to close earlier in the pandemic who are now finding their employees have gone elsewhere. How can companies navigate these obstacles to attract and retain good employees?

It starts at the top. As leaders, we all know that our responses and actions have never been more important. Employees are stressed and feeling a loss of control right now. As an employer, are you helping or making matters worse? In my June blog post, Fostering a Healthy Culture in a Post-Pandemic Workplace, I discussed four key considerations and actions that employers can take in the current and post-pandemic world to create a healthy and productive culture and environment for all stakeholders.

Communicating thoughtfully and with transparency, showing empathy, managing change, and taking decisive action are tangible ways to demonstrate your leadership. These will help you retain and engage your employees, especially top talent. There are also these strategies to consider:

Retaining Talent

Understand Your Employees’ Rights Under Paid Sick Leave, E-FMLA, etc. and Communicate Them

I know you might be thinking – what the heck does this have to do with retaining employees? But it has a lot to do with it. Companies that care for their employees, educate them on their rights and what is available to them, and are transparent with issues, have higher engagement and, therefore, higher retention rates than companies that don’t. Make sure you understand the laws and regulations coming out – and share them with your employees.

Here’s an example: Archbright was proactive when the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act (E-FMLA) came out in April, meeting personally with every employee with school-aged children, informing them of their rights, informing them of the pay available to them, informing them of other Archbright benefits that might play into their situation, and training managers to talk openly and compassionately with these employees about their needs.

Utilize Compensation Options

If you are able, consider any strategies and modifications that you can make to compensation that can enhance your marketability as an employer. Some ideas include incentives, sign-on bonuses, premium pay for extended hours or hazardous work, and considering a temporary or permanent increase of base pay for high demand roles.

The blog post, Compensation Practices During the Pandemic: Lessening the Impact, also provides suggested actions for employers to take to mitigate the negative impact on employees and better position themselves for financial recovery.

Work Alternatives

Instead of relying solely on recruiting, if you are finding gaps, consider your already available workforce. Can you offer project work to keep a good employee employed? Maybe flexible hours or schedules? Remote work? Many organizations before COVID-19 would have said certain positions could never be done remotely, but that tune changed when it became the only option. Could you reallocate employees or responsibilities? And, what about re-training or cross-training employees to cover gap areas?

Attendance Strategies

Be considerate of the stresses and challenges that we are all facing and consider offering flexible work schedules or work from home options, where possible. Consider other options like developing a PTO Donation Policy so that working parents could take off some additional time or offering opportunities for negatives balances in sick/PTO banks. And again, know your employees’ rights and the benefits available to them and communicate that information.

Employee Recognition

What are you doing right now to recognize the efforts, wins, etc. of your employees? At Archbright, we have a program that allows anyone to recognize anyone, requires that it be for a specific issue or incident, details the impact that had, and is tied to one of our six values. Employee recognition is key to employee retention.

Engage Employees in Improving Business Operations

This goes back to communicating effectively with your employees and effectively managing change – asking opinions, sharing information, and being open.

Attracting Talent

  • Go completely virtual in your recruiting strategies – from where and how you post to interviewing and hiring. Sadly, in a recent poll, only 16% of HR professionals indicated they were in a position to be able to do so. If you Google “digital interviewing platforms,” you will find several options for virtual interviewing and hiring.
  • Spread the word on social media – at a minimum, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn – and sites like doximity, Meetup, reddit, and even Care.com. Create posts that your employees can also share on their social media accounts. Every time we have an opening at Archbright, all employees receive an email, notifying us of the opportunity, and asking that we post on our social media pages, such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • Make it known you are open and hiring. The available candidate pool will gravitate towards those organizations that are active with their recruitment outreach.
  • Create a detailed procedure and share it with all hiring managers – considering system issues and technology.
  • Utilize your existing pool of candidates – they may be looking again!
  • Stay connected to talent – use LinkedIn and other avenues to maintain a relationship with talent that you weren’t able to hire previously – or that left and might be willing to come back. Think of it as an alumni association at a university.

In summary, as an organization, you need to take a hard look at what you are currently doing – or not doing – that is creating a work environment that people want to be a part of and that differentiates you from your competitors. The better you are at retaining your top talent, the more you will attract top talent. The word will get out on social media, sites like Glassdoor, and through Best Places to Work contests. Engaged employees can be your best marketers.

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Krisann Hatch, Director, Workplace Innovation

Krisann Hatch has been with Archbright for over six years, working with companies to strategize, innovate, and implement HR solutions, deliver employee-development training, and provide advice, consultation, and support on a wide-range of HR issues. In her new role in Workplace Innovation, Krisann plays a pivotal role in development of new services for Archbright members. Prior to Archbright, Krisann spent nearly 25 years at all levels in Human Resources with Red Lion Hotels, including being their Senior Vice President, Human Resources from 2002 through 2013. Krisann has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Eastern Washington University, an MBA from Washington State University, and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR, SHRM-SCP).