BY KELLY MANNING | Benefits & HR Advisor

Across the nation, unemployment is at an over 15-year low. In Indiana specifically, unemployment is 3%. We are currently in a job seeker’s market. With increased opportunity and available jobs, job seekers can be far more selective when choosing a place of employment than ever before.

It’s more than likely that your organization will have a hard-to-fill opening (or several) this year. Top talent will not only be more difficult to recruit, but also to retain. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3 million employees have left their jobs voluntarily each month since July 2017.

What this means for employers is that it is imperative to proactively differentiate themselves to maintain market competitiveness. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t want to make more money; therefore it is completely understandable that higher compensation attracts job seekers. For many employers, especially nonprofits, leading the market in compensation may not be a sustainable and/or realistic solution.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. Compensation is not the only factor that drives organizational competitiveness. In a competitive job market, employers can either compete with increased compensation or increased differentiation.

Differentiating the organization requires reflecting on what people truly want and need most from their employment, and how the organization can impact them accordingly. Compensation may be one factor, but others such as candidate/employee experience, culture, growth opportunity and work/life balance have proven equally important for employee retention.

Evaluate the candidate/employee experience:
Review your hiring practices. Review your website to ensure that it is engaging and that the application process is not overly burdensome. Act quickly and be responsive. Take feedback from both successful and unsuccessful candidates, and ensure that the process is positive. A poor experience leaves a lasting impression. Depending on your business, a candidate may one day be a potential customer.

Clearly define organizational value and culture:
A national staffing firm recently conducted a study of the things that draw employees to a new job. Culture was at the top of the list. Employees are seeking meaningful work and seeking employers with positive organization culture and shared values. Ensure that your organizations values are clearly communicated and evident within your employee and customer experiences.

Provide growth opportunities:
Employees seek out the opportunities to learn new skills and advance their career. There are plenty of ways to provide growth opportunies that don’t require promotion or transfer to a new opportunity. Cross-function working, assignment on special projects, and/or internal mentoring are all ways to encourage and support meaningful employee growth without breaking the bank.

Work/Life Balance:
Work/life balance can take many forms, ranging anywhere from remote work to benefit offerings. The important aspect here is to know your employee. Know what is important to them and what they value and how they define work/life balance. For many employees today, the opportunity to work remotely or with flexible hours is extremely attractive. For others, it may be the value placed on family with the benefit offerings.

2018 is a job seeker’s market. Have you identified what makes your organization different from other employers? Do you know what the people that you employ (or seek to employ) value? Do you know what sets your organization apart, or what you offer that your competition doesn’t?
Now is the time to differentiate. Don’t let your competition beat you to it.

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