If your company’s planning to hire this year, you’re not alone. The labor market is in a streak of record growth, with 101 straight months of job growth as of February. Unemployment rates have fluctuated between 3.7 and 4% for a year, which is the lowest percentage since 1969. And in some states, the unemployment rate is as low as 2.4%. Keep reading to understand what the tight job market may mean for your company.
Employees are in Demand
Companies had the upper hand in the hiring process during the 2008 recession and the long recovery that followed. There were 6.4 jobseekers for every job opening at the peak of the recession in 2009. But today, job openings exceed the number of unemployed people seeking work.
American workers voluntarily left their jobs to find better ones last year at the highest rate since 2001. Although wages are growing faster than inflation, wage growth has remained relatively sluggish by historical standards. Thus, many workers may see a new job as their best shot at a raise.
Prime-age American workers, especially women, who gave up on their job hunts during the recession are jumping back into the labor market, which has helped keep job growth strong. And applicants can afford to be picky when it comes to jobs.
Job Candidates Have High Expectations
The majority of recruiters (86%) and employers (62%) agree it’s a candidate-driven job market. And jobseekers have higher expectations than they have in recent years. In a survey of 1,138 employees commissioned by CareerBuilder and Silk Road, 68% of job candidates say the hiring experience reflects how they’ll be treated as an employee. Nearly one-third (31%) of candidates expect employers to send them a customized message when they reach out with a job opportunity. The majority (82%) of candidates expect employers to provide a clear timeline and keep them updated throughout the hiring process. And 55% of candidates say they’ll move on to another opportunity if they don’t hear back from an employer in two weeks.
More and more hiring managers complain about being ghosted. Ghosting, which is slang for abruptly cutting off contact without an explanation, usually applies to Tinder and other online dating apps. The truth is, ghosting has always existed in the hiring process. But while employers used to give job candidates the silent treatment, the tables have turned. Now applicants cease communication halfway through the hiring process or never show up for their first day of work.
According to Meredith Wise, executive director of the Employers Association of the Northeast, prospective employees in all sectors and every level, from entry to senior positions, ghost employers. Recruiters at the global staffing firm Robert Half have noticed a 10 to 20% increase in ghosting. And in a CareerBuilder and SilkRoad survey, 67% of employers reported that nearly one quarter of new hires did not show up for work the first day. Ghosting may be especially common in industries with a shortage of qualified applicants, including IT, tech, and digital marketing.
The average company spends 24 days and $4,000 to recruit a new hire, according to Glassdoor. That’s a lot of money and effort to spend on a no-show. With the tight labor market expected to continue through 2019, employers may need to refine their hiring processes and improve some key measures to compete for the best talent.
How to Attract the Best Employees
Your business can attract top-notch employees even when hiring competition is fierce. Make sure you offer what employees want, including these must-haves.
- Improved candidate experience
Your job candidates are likely interviewing for multiple companies. It may be time to optimize their experience during your hiring process. Many companies have room for improvement. More than half (60%) of jobseekers have had a negative candidate experience, and 72% of them shared their negative experience with people online. To improve your candidate experience, write clear job descriptions with straightforward language, and provide simple and clear application instructions. Send confirmation emails when you receive applications, and provide an accurate timeline for when candidates will hear back from you. Update applicants often about where you are in the hiring process. And send polite rejection emails when employees aren’t a good fit. Consider also asking job candidates for feedback on their experience with your company. Only 25% of employers do so, and it’s a great way to improve your hiring process.
- Exceptional benefits
Do some market research to make sure you offer competitive wages and don’t neglect your benefits package. The majority (79%) of employees would prefer new or additional benefits over a pay increase, according to a Glassdoor survey. More than half (55%) of employees in a Randstadt U.S. survey have left a job because they found a new job with better benefits. In 2018, nearly three quarters (69%) of employers increased their benefits packages, according to a Society for Human Resources Management survey. Which benefits do employees value most? Health insurance is non-negotiable for many workers. The majority of job candidates (88%) say they consider health insurance benefits when choosing a job. Paid time off, a retirement plan, and flexible scheduling are also at the top in most surveys.More and more candidates may also seek paid-parental-leave programs. More than one third (35%) of U.S. employers offer paid maternity leave, including the top 20 biggest companies in the U.S. And nearly a third of (29%) employers offer paid paternity leave, up from 8% in 2016.
- Competitive perks
Free food in the office has become “almost obligatory”, according to Priya Krishna reporting in the New York Times: “Businesses go to extraordinary lengths to provide food without charge, or at a sharp discount. The offerings have grown in size, scope, and specificity. ”In a survey, 87% of respondents said non-traditional perks were important when they were evaluating a new job. In addition to free food, many companies offer other innovative perks. Financial education and student-loan repayment are increasingly popular with younger workers. In a 2017 Gartner survey, 40% of companies offered their employees summer Fridays, days off, or reduced hours on Fridays during the summer. Most (69%) companies offer their employees general wellness programs. And an increasing number of companies offer pet-related benefits, such as pet health insurance or “pawternity care”.
- Engaging company culture
Your company culture is your company’s personality. It describes how your employees relate to and experience your company’s mission, values, ethics, expectations, goals, and workspaces. A strong company culture is linked to how satisfied and productive employees are. More than one-third (35%) of employees in a Glassdoor survey said a company’s culture influences their decision to apply for a job there. To improve your company culture, make sure your workplace, benefits, and practices reflect your overall mission and goals. For example, if you own a pet-care brand, your workspaces and benefits package should also be pet-friendly. Look to big brands for inspiration. Airbnb’s offices and benefits package are travel-inspired and Etsy’s are DIY-inspired.
- Great employee experience
While company culture is about the atmosphere of a company, employee experience is about the day-to-day experience of actually working there. If you’re trying to improve your company culture, you may offer your staff free food. But if you’re trying to improve employee experience, you may also want to encourage them to eat together. That’s because having friends at work makes a big difference in people’s day-to-day lives. In fact, 70% of employees in an Officevibe study said work friendships are the most crucial element to a happy working life. To improve employee experience, encourage your employees to collaborate and have fun together. And offer them opportunities for career growth, authentic rewards and recognition for hard work, and the productivity tools they need to succeed. Investing in employee experience often translates to better customer experience because happy employees are more likely to give exceptional service.
Hiring in a competitive job market is challenging. Employees are in demand, and job seekers have high expectations. But your company can attract the best talent and hold on to top-performing workers by improving your candidate experience, company culture, and employee experience and offering competitive benefits and perks.