Human Resources and Benefits, COVID-19

Attracting and Retaining Employees Amid Challenges from COVID-19

Attracting and retaining talent is often a top priority for HR departments. The effects of the current pandemic on the job market, have made this more challenging.

In a recent survey, only 1% of CEOs said “talent risk” was the biggest risk on their agenda prior to COVID. Now, 21% of CEOs rate “talent risk” as their biggest overall risk.*

Retaining top performers and attracting quality talent remain a struggle, worsened by COVID-19 and its effects on the workplace.

Here are a few tips to consider for attracting and retaining employees amid the challenges presented by the pandemic.

Expand Your Hiring Pool

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how quickly teams can adapt, with some workplaces shifting entirely to telework. After months of remote-working success, many employers indicate they will allow telework permanently even after the pandemic subsides. This flexibility allows recruiters to significantly increase the geographic search area of their hiring pools.

Adapt the Workplace Layout

Many workers are now more concerned about their health and well-being while at work. By addressing these concerns, employers can bring peace of mind to employees and, in turn, attract workers who may have held reservations about their safety.

Adapt workplaces to focus on employee health. This includes rearranging the office space to provide adequate physical distance among employees, holding virtual meetings, allowing flex scheduling, and offering telecommuting. At the end of the day, workplaces that demonstrate concern for employees will be the ones where people want to work. Conversely, if employees are forced to choose between their safety and their jobs, retention will suffer.

Embrace Flexibility and Work/Life Balance

According to the American Psychological Association, workers regularly report work-life balance as the main reason they will stay in a job. Supporting employees by providing options and programs that enable them to meet the demands of home and work can result in a positive outcome for all involved. Some options to consider include flexible hours, telecommuting, job sharing, time off from work, and workplace benefits and perks, such as an employee assistance program (EAP), and fitness benefits.

Learn how you can help employees achieve work-life balance.

Offer Competitive and Meaningful Benefits

The pandemic has affected everyone in significant, yet unique, ways. While all employees may be struggling in some way, their situations aren’t the same. You can help encourage your workforce by offering meaningful employee benefits.

Robust health care offerings may seem like an obvious one-size-fits-all solution, but voluntary benefits are a great option to consider as they allow employees to choose benefits that fit their unique situation and needs. Some voluntary benefits to consider include:

  • Life Insurance
  • Dental Plans
  • Vision Insurance
  • Accident Insurance
  • Critical Illness Insurance
  • Disability Insurance
  • Caregiving Assistance
  • Financial Planning Resources
  • Identity Theft Protection
  • Legal Insurance Plans
  • Travel Insurance
  • Medical Insurance for Pets

Other options to consider include increased paid time off and nontraditional perks, such as paid family leave, gym membership reimbursement, employee recognition (i.e. new hire welcome packages, rewards for years of service, achievement awards, etc.), tuition reimbursement, personal volunteering PTO days, company-wide service projects, “lunch and learns,” and employee purchase or discount programs.

Support Well-being

Show employees and potential recruits you are willing to invest in their well-being. Potential options include comprehensive employee assistance programs, one-on-one counseling, therapy sessions, and stress-reducing activities. Solutions don’t need to break the bank, either. Something as small as a weekly outdoor activity, virtual chitchat meeting, or group excursion could be enough to lift employees out of their funk.

Check out these articles for ideas on supporting mental well-being and creating an inclusive workplace culture:

Look for Talent Internally

If you are struggling to fill an important role with an outside candidate, it could be that you’re looking in the wrong place. Consider upskilling current employees and retraining them for more important positions. This can be significant for a few reasons.

  • Outside candidates would need to be trained anyway, so upskilling a current employee wouldn’t be any more burdensome. Since they’re already familiar with the workplace and its operations, it may even be easier.
  • Many recruiting teams are expecting big slashes to their budgets in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, shuffling around current employees could help save the bottom line.
  • Promoting employees from within the organization shows you are willing to invest in their career growth. This sentiment can go a long way in retaining top talent.

There are many creative ways employers can attract and retain quality workers. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, even small gestures can go a long way to distinguish an organization from others in its industry.

Reach out today to learn more about these and other workplace strategies.


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