Long ago, you did not have to look far to find prospective employees for your organization. Even better, great employees referred friends and family and helped build a family atmosphere for many small businesses. Then 2020 came, and, like a nuclear bomb, everything that we knew and did to gain and retain employees no longer works, and the recruitment world was turned upside down. How can a brief work stoppage change everything? “Everything” may be a bit of an overstatement, but what DID change was how we worked, and we, as employers, reset expectations. Those expectations were then debated, torn down, reinterpreted, reinforced, and expanded by influences beyond our control like social media.
The Cost Of Living is Skyrocketing, but Wages Are Not
The cost of a roof over one’s head vs. established wage levels was one of the first battlegrounds in the new recruitment age.
Every market is different, but in our home market in Miami, one can expect to pay around $2,100 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in a good (not luxurious, but good) area. In 2019 this same apartment would have cost $1,300.
As a company, our employees have suffered massive rent increases, and prospective employees have had to consider these inflated costs when considering an offer.
While the dollars differ from market to market across the country, these increases have occurred nationwide. The explanation is a complex mix of interest rates, real estate inventory shortages, the pent-up demand from Millennials that failed to launch or go into the world at a “traditional” age, out-of-market investors, etc. Your rent/mortgage tends to be the most significant single bill a person pays, increasing nationally by 33% since the end of 2019.
Consequently, an expectation to keep a standard of living is that wages go up 33%, too, and there’s the rub. Wages don’t follow housing costs; they typically follow the Profit and Margins of businesses which is another issue.
The Two-Front War
2020 was a small growth year for many businesses, illustrated by the number of companies that applied for and received relief with Covid Federal Aid.
The reality is that 48% of the businesses that got additional funds did not need them or took advantage of the system’s numerous loopholes and poor program oversight. This resulted in thousands of companies getting a cash bonus and, in what would seem to be a “good thing,” many put that bonus to work by expanding or adding staff in late 2020.
In the tech industry, where many businesses don’t show an official profit as they live off investor dollars and what people say about them, many more than doubled their staff. This caused an unexpected social tsunami of posts about “how great it was to work remotely,” “free office furniture,” “fat paychecks”, “unlimited days off,” “free DoorDash Fridays,” etc. These promises created expectations that most employers cannot fulfill, let alone sustain.
Now we have a two-front war; unrealistic expectations at work and an unrealistic wage to meet the change in housing costs. This so-called war was aggravated further by remote workers now wanting to “live somewhere fun,” causing housing costs in some markets, like Miami, to outpace housing costs in markets like NYC.
Is There A Solution Or Relief On The Horizon?
We can only increase prices to a point where demand accepts it, and the recent changes in interest rates have put a big fat “X” on that as people are looking for deals.
Housing costs have dropped 5%, but more is needed to help adjust wages, and people are still looking for unrealistic conditions in the workplace. The good news is that while hiring quality staff has become more complex and expensive, there are still paths to fill positions.
To find the right person to fill a part, you need to first think about who you want and whether you are willing to take on a less qualified person and teach them or does this person need to be a high-level hire. While this may seem obvious, this helps determine the marketing cost per employee to find and hire this position.
Across the country, the average cost of hire is $1,500. If you need ten employees, hiring ten people could cost $15k in marketing and expense. This average includes Teachers and Nurses who can run $5,000 a hire and Quick Service Restaurant workers who run about $400 per hire. Based on the level of education or desired skills, you can hire for less, or if you need someone highly skilled, it might cost thousands more than the $1,500 average.
Don’t Waste Money On Finding The Wrong Employee
We’ve all tried and failed at finding prospective employees by loading a job into Indeed and hoping for a BOOM – Match! Not that it never happens, but we’ve all felt the cost of time and money going over all the unsuccessful matches and people that apply.
To help cut this down and create efficiencies, you need an employment landing page or a standalone site for employment. Here you can direct job seekers to answer some basic questions or take skill assessments to allow you to eliminate candidates that don’t fit without wasting a ton of time. You can also use a pixel for retargeting or following up on candidates with recruitment ad messages, text messages, and email notifications to prompt them to complete the application or move forward in the registration process.
Be clear in your position on wages. Suppose the hourly wage has a range or a set starting rate. Have that same clarity regarding salaried positions. It is easier to have people eliminate themselves than have you waste time getting excited about someone to find out they need double what you can offer that position.
Numerous digital marketing efforts are highly effective in finding candidates. These include Pay Per Click advertising in Google, Bing, and social media. Also, video advertising via YouTube or streaming TV. One tactic can be to “steal” employees from other employers. How to do this is to cast a custom geofence with ads over other employers with the type of person you want but might not be looking to attract. Use your benefits or wage to move them from Passive to Active job seekers.
Importance Of Valuing Employees
Over the last year, we have worked with Retailers, Medical, Government Agencies, and Industrial and Warehouse industries to fill thousands of positions. All of them need, typically the same 4 or 5 products to find success. Some require additional services because of specialty licenses or positions. Plan to fill your open positions over three months, plan for churn during that period, and build that into your recruitment plan.
Churn in today’s market is very high. Nationally, Amazon warehouses only have an average employee stay for three weeks. That high churn rate exists even with some of the highest wages and benefits in most markets. Churn can occur for many reasons, but the most increased occurrence now is due to burnout and feeling undervalued. Valuing an employee or a group is more than “Free Pizza Friday” or a Kudos board. Employees today want to feel heard and that their opinions and ideas matter.
At Orbit Interactive, we have seen great success allowing people we’d like to groom as future managers the ability to run a multi-department group. Inside of this, we hear suggestions on improving workflow, product, sales, and such. Many of these suggestions lead to even bigger and better ideas, but the employees feel they are part of the system, not just a cog in the wheel.
While we focus on helping you find the right people, remember it is essential to do what you can to retain your people.