Best Practices in HR

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Julien Emery
  March 1, 2018

Here’s What You Need To Do To Attract Talent in a Tight Market

The labor market is finally starting to pick up in most sectors. That’s good news for new college grads and those looking to move to another company. But if you’re an HR manager, it makes life much more difficult.

Attracting top talent in a tight market is hard enough, let alone one in which top applicants have their pick of potential new employers. So how can your company stand out and snag the best new hires?

Offering perks like free lunches or unlimited vacation might work for some companies, but these benefits don’t necessarily fit all corporate cultures. What seems to work for most companies, and what employees really crave, is a recognition of work-life balance, which can take many forms.

A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management found four major areas where employee benefits have increased over the past 20 years: professional memberships, legal assistance, wellness and resources information, and telecommuting. Keeping these in mind, here’s what you can do to bring more top talent through your doors, and get them to sign on the dotted line.

Cover the cost of professional memberships

The number of companies offering to pay for professional memberships for their employees has increased from 65% in 1996 to 88% in 2016, according to the SHRM report. There are several good reasons for this.

First, it’s a fairly inexpensive perk. Membership in these organizations is typically just a few hundred dollars a year. That’s not much for most companies, but it can save employees a fair amount of money. No matter what field you’re in, there are likely several different professional organizations employees may be interested in joining.

Second, there are the networking opportunities. Signing employees up for these memberships helps them meet influencers in the industry and bring new and exciting ideas back to your business. Ultimately, they empower your employees to help you with recruiting.

Finally, there’s the educational aspect. If you’re in a field that requires annual education, such as law, this is a great way to ensure employees meet their regular requirements. Even if your field doesn’t require regular education, these seminars can still be a great way to brush up on basic skills or learn new ones.

Offer legal assistance as a benefit

While legal assistance or services are still offered by a minority of companies, more businesses are embracing the benefit every year.

Only 13% of companies offered some sort of legal service or assistance program in 1996, but that number has nearly doubled to 25% in 2016, according to SHRM.

There are many ways that a legal assistance plan can work. Hyatt Legal Plans, a MetLife Company, offers one typical scenario:

  1. Through Hyatt, the legal assistance plan works much like health insurance:
  2. Employees pay a nominal deduction from each paycheck of about $20
  3. The plan covers common legal needs like buying a house or dealing with debt collectors
  4. Employees are free to hire any attorney covered by the plan

Local attorneys may also be willing to work with your company to offer a similar plan, or just come in periodically for presentations or to discuss legal issues with your employees.

Virtually everyone has legal needs at some point during the year, but they often don’t consult with an attorney because it’s expensive. A legal assistance plan is the type of benefit that many employees won’t know they need until it’s offered to them, and it could help tip the scales in bringing top talent to your company.

Increase Wellness Programs

Wellness programs are one of the best benefits to make life better for employees outside of the workplace. These programs are usually very affordable, and they have the added benefit of reducing health care expenses (win win!).

SHRM found that wellness resources and information programs increased from 54% in 1996 to 72% in 2016.

These programs can take many forms:

  • Sending out weekly tips on how to stay healthy
  • Offering seasonal flu vaccines, weight loss programs or gym memberships
  • Facilitating team outings to yoga classes or organizing a meditation class for employees

And while the benefits of offering employees free lunches are well-known, you could stand out from the pack by going out of your way to offer them healthy options.

SHRM found that these offerings have a huge positive impact in the workplace. More than three quarters of businesses with wellness programs reported that the programs were somewhat or very effective at reducing healthcare costs.

Offer the option to work from home

Who doesn’t love not having to come into the office?

The business world is still somewhat divided on telecommuting. While SHRM found that 60% of employers now offer some form of telecommuting (up from 20% in 1996), many older managers still scoff at letting employees work from home.

After all, if employees aren’t supervised, they must be goofing off, right? Not necessarily. One Stanford University study from 2014 found that employees who work from home are:

  • 13.5% more productive than their peers in the office. That translates to nearly an entire extra day of productivity each week!
  • Half as likely to quit
  • More satisfied with their jobs

The George Washington University in D.C. in particular has a strong commitment to letting employees work from home. The university finds that it promotes a healthy work-life balance, increases morale, and is good for the environment.

If you can run a business with a large number of employees working remotely or from home, it can save a ton of money in overhead and real estate costs. Plus, employees save money on gas and travel.

Telecommuting isn’t necessarily for every business (good luck running a packing company or manufacturing plant with employees who work from home), but for those in the information fields, it has huge benefits for both employers and employees.

To help you figure out if this benefit is right for you, here are the two most important skills for managing a remote teammate with a bonus 9-step checklist for managing a remote team.
Choosing to offer great perks and benefits isn’t just about rewarding employees

It’s also an important part of building your brand. The types of benefits you offer will speak to the type of organization you are and build on your brand identity, and that will shape the type of talent you attract.

  • Do you want to be seen as adventurous and outdoorsy? Offer great travel insurance, flexible vacations, and team activities like hiking or paintball.
  • Is your persona more refined and luxurious? Supply high quality in-house coffee, offer the use of a company car or vacation property, and take your team wine tasting or to gallery openings.

The people who value these perks will be attracted to your organization, and will help continue to build your brand in the direction you’re looking for.

When the hiring market is tight, employers need to rely on more than just a high salary to attract the best talent. Any of these benefits could make the difference in attracting your next great employee.

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