There are two sides to every coin. On the surface, record unemployment in the United States has been a blessing for individuals. Workers have great career options, high earning potential, and more ladders to success than in recent memory. The flip side of that shiny coin? Such a robust economy and job market becomes a serious challenge for companies and HR departments who are tasked with keeping positions filled with top-quality employees.
Currently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes a historic supply of 6.6 million open jobs. As personnel managers scramble to fill these positions, other employees continue to hand in resignations and move on to other opportunities, leaving additional vacancies in their wake.
In this new market where scales have tipped in favor of applicants, recruiters shoulder what legal experts call the “burden of proof.” Not only do they have to prove to candidates the value of their corporate missions, but they also must showcase their willingness to support work-life integration. Job seekers increasingly want to partner with businesses that put an emphasis on health and social consciousness.
It’s a tricky balancing act, even for experienced human resource executives. After all, in today's job market, top talent can now afford to be choosy in sometimes surprising ways.
The job candidate's perspective
Workplace superstars may be open to the possibility of moving to another company, but their loyalty is tough to snag. They’re looking beyond paychecks, scrutinizing potential employers for red flags. If they spot them, they’ll move on without hesitation because they have choices in a buyers' market.
What types of warning signs catch great workers’ eyes when surveying a workspace? First is a clutter of unnecessary tools and equipment. Bulky workstations in crowded offices smack of inefficiency. They’re a dated remnant from old-school ways of working, not the streamlined preferences of modern teams.
Secondly, Millennials are especially looking for a positive culture. Deloitte interviewed 10,455 workers across 36 countries for its 2018 Millennial Survey and found that a majority (52 percent) consider a positive workplace culture "very important" when choosing where to work. That figure was second only to financial compensation. Furthermore, one-third of survey respondents listed wellness programs and incentives as a top priority. When they see static office setups, they inherently turn away. Why should they resign themselves to a landscape of cubicles, stationary walls, and sit-only desks when there are better options?
First impressions matter, often more than salaries and standard benefits packages. When a prospective employee walks into an office, his or her experience sets the tone for whether there will be a “second date.” Consequently, corporations of all sizes need to strategize to woo and retain amazing talent.
1. Focus on super high functionality.
Find out where the kinks in your system are. What’s not working? Your recruits want to see that your business operations are smooth and streamlined. By adding sit-stand desks and other flexible furniture pieces, you can begin to encourage energy and collaboration. As time goes on, remain open to closing any gaps related to functionality, whether through new equipment or a change in office design.
2. Turn furnishings into everyday tools.
Having a 300-pound monster desk straight from the “Mad Men” set isn't practical. The same goes for any weighty items that serve only one purpose. Instead of decorating your office with trinkets, make sure everything you bring into the space has multifaceted uses. High-top tables can turn into meeting spaces, movable walls can create huddle rooms — be innovative. Your team can participate in the process by explaining the resources they need in order to be empowered and do their best work.
3. Prioritize a wellness culture.
At our headquarters, we have an on-site gym complemented by pristine shower facilities. This tells candidates that we don’t just talk about health; we invest in it for our own employees.
While you don’t have to emulate us, you should always consider ways to build activity into your spaces. Activity encourages movement, and movement begets imagination, innovation, and cooperative working. Recruits feel a natural buzz when they walk into a company that’s alive with motion and optimism; it’s a terrific way to “sell” them on your workplace without saying a word.
Even if the job market weren’t as crazy as it is today, investing in internal changes for the future is never a bad idea. Besides, being known as an innovative, forward-thinking organization will add another benefit to your recruitment efforts: People with stellar résumés will start coming to you, giving you the pick of the bunch. That’s a surefire recipe for a top-notch team.
A lifelong entrepreneur, Jason McCann has over 20 years of experience building and running successful companies. As a founder and the CEO of VARIDESK, Jason’s mission is to help companies reimagine the workspace. VARIDESK started with one innovative product and has grown to be a global leader in workspace innovation with products found in over 130 countries.