Though we’re far from calling the COVID-19 health crisis over, the American economy is starting to ramp back up. And that means some of the nation’s biggest employers in the retail, service, and medical spaces need to rebuild a workforce that was downsized in response to the pandemic. This is no easy feat; never before have companies needed to hire so many people so quickly. But the real challenge will lie not in the number of people who need to be hired — although to be sure, this will tax your HR teams. The trickiest part is that all your competitors will be trying to hire those same people at the exact same time.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, employer brand “significantly affects the volume and quality of applicants a company attracts, and it makes a difference to employee productivity, job satisfaction, and retention.” Making strong investments here is where you can get ahead in the hiring race.
We already know that in a time of crisis, big bets by employers make the news. But over the long term, companies that treat employees well also build goodwill among employees, which leads to word-of-mouth marketing that’s hard to buy. There’s also plenty of data to back up that a strong focus on employee experience leads to stronger bottom lines, and even better performance than other similar businesses.
“Employer brand significantly affects the volume and quality of applicants a company attracts, and it impacts employee productivity, job satisfaction, and retention.”
But when it comes to benefits and services for employees, the bar has risen — and it did so quickly. Workers have seen during COVID-19 that companies are fully capable of doing more to secure the physical, mental, and financial well-being of workers. The news has been plastered with stories about companies taking bold action to help workers, even when not required to do so by legislation. So as an employer, how can you rise above the competition and become the most attractive option for job hunters?
The service sector will be at the center of most rehiring through the summer; 2.5 million jobs were added in May, most of them in “people-facing” roles. But the people who fill these jobs have challenges that go far beyond just looking for work again.
With schools not opening yet, and questions remaining around whether they’ll even be open come fall, many working parents have childcare to consider. When forced to choose between caring for children or taking a new job, people will of course choose their children. This disproportionately impacts women, who have already borne the brunt of the economic and health impacts of Coronavirus. Employers can help by offering programs and services that help workers pay for childcare — such as discounts or subsidies — and ensure new and existing employees have family-friendly schedule options.
Many workers are also confused about whether or not it’s safe to return to work. With conflicting information from federal, state, and local governments, and inconsistent corporate policies, this is a real and valid concern. Workers aren’t just concerned about themselves; they’re worried about exposing their children and partners, and whether they have the financial means to access treatment if someone falls ill. To gain worker trust, companies need to ensure the equipment and policies are in place to ensure a safe and sanitary workspace. Employees also need to feel confident in their ability to take time off to tend to their own health, or that of their families.
“72% of millennials and 71% of Gen Xers are more likely to be attracted to another company that cares more about their financial well-being.”
Then of course there’s the simple fact that many workers have fallen far behind financially. With unemployment topping out at 16.3% for May and supplemented unemployment scheduled to end in July, many workers are wondering how they’ll make ends meet moving forward — if they’ve even been able to thus far. The people you’re trying to hire will prioritize employers that give them ways to get paid on demand, save money, and build stronger financial futures for themselves.
As an employer, you’re well positioned to help employees with their most pressing concerns. Discount and tax savings accounts, subsidized child care, better health insurance and on-site care, and stronger financial wellness benefits are all things that can help employees. The companies with the strongest offerings in this area will attract more consideration from job hunters.
Financial benefits in particular can make or break an employment decision. PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 72% of millennials and 71% of Gen Xers are “more likely to be attracted to another company that cares more about their financial well-being.” This helps explain why some of the nation’s largest employers like Walmart, Albertson’s, and Target put finances at the center of their COVID-19 response efforts.
Consumers, too, watch for the way companies are treating their employees. For example, Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer showed that 73% of people believe a company can act in ways that both increase profits and improve conditions for employees. That same survey revealed that 87% of respondents believe that stakeholders, not shareholders, are most important to long-term company success. So beyond helping you attract and retain the best candidates, investing in your workforce pays off with consumers as well.
The big takeaway is this: By investing heavily in making life better for your employees, you’ll attract and retain stronger talent, which then strengthens your business and allows you to keep scaling. While many of the people you’re looking to hire may have escaped the medical impacts of COVID-19, far fewer were able to avoid the financial repercussions. To rise above other employers your candidates are looking at, focus on financial benefits that help them create savings, avoid predatory lending products, and build stronger financial futures.
Get updates around new research and findings in your email.