Recruitment and Retention: What Employers Need to Know


Prior to the pandemic, employers were already facing the unprecedented challenge of recruiting and engaging a workforce spanning five generations – the youngest of which is the first generation of digital natives to enter the workforce, bringing with them an entirely new set of skills and needs. Add to that the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, the rising labor shortage and the digitization of the workforce, and employers are currently struggling more than ever to recruit and retain qualified candidates across almost every level, skill and department.

So now what?

Now is the time for HR leaders to re-evaluate their approach to recruitment and retention and ensure they’re tailoring their strategy to the needs and communications styles of current and prospective employees.

Based on a review of 2021’s top-tier business publications and HR-focused journals and reports, the following are the driving recruitment and retention trends employers and HR leaders need to be aware of in order to effectively reach and retain qualified candidates: 

Appeal to a range of generations

In the early days of the pandemic, nearly 30 million Baby Boomers left the job market and retired. Many of the positions they retired from remain open. It’s wishful thinking to hope younger generations will happily fill positions previously held by older generations without any adjustments on the employer’s part. Appealing to multi-generational candidates will be crucial in attracting and retaining a pipeline of top talent. Here are a few things companies should focus on to attract candidates of all ages in 2021 and beyond:

  • Societal good. Candidates are increasingly placing value on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG). Two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans reported doing more research into a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts than they did prior to the pandemic. Companies who prioritize CSR/ESG initiatives and showcase actual impact from those efforts will appeal to candidates spanning Gen X to Gen Z. To highlight their efforts, companies should:
    • Provide transparency into their CSR/ESG initiatives and practices in recruitment efforts and internal communications.
    • Continuously refine CSR/ESG efforts, including offering a safe space for productive internal conversations and practices.
    • Share purpose-driven messaging directly from leadership and employees.
  • Sharing educational insights on your industry. A number of hourly positions might be overlooked by recent graduates based on misguided perceptions or lack of understanding about the industry and role. Take manufacturing as a prime example. A recent survey found that 36% of young workers have a lack of interest in the manufacturing industry. This is at least partially driven by a perception that “manufacturing” is a dirty, dark and dangerous job – and a lack of awareness of the current diversity of skills needed for modern manufacturing positions. By providing information and insight into the business, opportunities for growth, etc., candidates can gain a better understanding of everything the industry has to offer, in turn sparking their interest in learning more about open positions.

Benefits beyond salary are important

Candidates are looking for positions that offer a robust benefits package beyond just a competitive salary. Benefits including comprehensive health care options, paid time off, and more are key to attracting high quality talent. Companies that offer a healthy work-life balance have the biggest advantage when competing for top-tier talent. 

Companies are adapting by:

  • Publicizing benefit-related information, including specific hourly rates/starting salaries, on job boards and in the career sections of their company websites.
  • Highlighting employee testimonials and information providing tangible examples of the work they’re doing to promote a healthy work-life balance for their employees.

Upward mobility and growth is key

No matter what generation a candidate falls within, career growth will always be a priority. Candidates are looking for companies who will help facilitate that growth by offering competitive training and professional development opportunities to support career advancement.

Companies are adapting by:

  • Prominently highlighting growth opportunities and investments in professional development on external facing channels.
  • Showcasing current employees’ journeys and testimonials. Recognizing and celebrating the successes of current employees demonstrates commitment to the growth and happiness of teammates across positions. This type of content also provides prospective candidates with a better understanding of the position they could fill if they joined the team.
  • Being transparent and forthcoming about advancement opportunities during the interview process. Providing information about growth potential to candidates prior to issuing an employment offer helps establish trust between the company and candidate, and reinforces the company’s commitment to transparency.

Health and safety on the frontline is still important

Throughout the pandemic, frontline workers experienced first-hand the importance of health and safety protocols. Moving forward, adequate health and safety benefits and practices will be expected. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Adequate break times. Offering employees time to recharge during their shifts will help with overall morale and autonomy over their day, when possible.
  • Comprehensive health benefits and paid sick time. This will encourage employees to stay home and visit a doctor when they’re under the weather and reinforce the company’s commitment to the well-being of its employees.
  • Foster a positive work environment and culture where employees feel safe and appreciated.

The future is digital

Technology and innovation will be crucial in keeping up with the most competitive talent market to-date. During the pandemic, all aspects of recruiting shifted to digital, and 70% of surveyed job seekers reported expecting the recruitment process to remain primarily virtual and/or hybrid even post-pandemic.

Notable candidate expectations regarding the recruitment process include:

Companies should consider:

  • Optimizing content for search (SEO). By including keywords relevant to the industry and job at hand, job posts are more likely to appear in searches and be more prominently displayed on job boards.
  • Leveraging niche online job boards when posting new positions. Using open job forums like Facebook Jobs in addition to industry specific sites (such as CDL jobs catering to driving/delivery positions) will help maximize your reach and increase the likelihood of engaging interested and qualified candidates.
  • Expanding their social media presence. Candidates are increasingly using social media and digital platforms to search for jobs and learn more about companies before applying. Maintaining an active presence across social media channels and review websites can ensure candidates have access to the most up-to-date information about your company, its values, mission and, ultimately, employee experience.

Key Takeaways:

While there’s no one-size-fits-all recruitment strategy, there are adjustments employers and HR leaders can make to navigate this turbulent recruitment landscape more effectively, including:

  • Ensuring recruitment-related content appeals to a multi-generational workforce.
  • Remaining transparent about salary and benefit information with an emphasis on employee well-being.
  • Promoting growth and mobility opportunities.
  • Understanding health is top priority to job seekers.
  • Digitizing your approach to recruitment and retention.