Hook, Line, and Sinker: Fishing For Employees in the Midst of a Shortage


The last two years have been legendarily tough for all of us. A rapidly mutating respiratory disease has traveled across the country, leaving disaster in its wake and forcing businesses to either close or adapt. Many of us have had to quickly reconsider how we do business, either making sure that our businesses are operating safely with enough precautions to prevent a superspreader event taking out most of our staff or switching to a remote, online-focused business model that allows customers to shop from home and employees to work from home. For many of us, that switch was implemented in a staggered, ineffective way, a way that may have put employees off: yet at the time, it was the best we could do. 

Most CEOs and recruitment officials expected people to come back when pandemic restrictions were lifted prematurely, so starving for a taste of the pre-pandemic normal that they led their appetite for a healthy bottom line cloud their judgment. When the pandemic hit, employees were laid off en masse, and those that weren’t were forced out into a virus-infested public that either didn’t believe the virus was real or didn’t care enough to take precautions on behalf of themselves or those serving them. 

Businesses believed that cutting operations down to a skeleton crew was their best chance of surviving the pandemic, and while they may have been right, they didn’t think about the message all of this was sending to their employees: that they were replaceable, that they weren’t integral to the businesses’ running, and that businesses didn’t care if they got sick, only about their bottom line. Even if that wasn’t the intended message, that was the one employees across industries got while working amidst the pandemic: one that was reinforced when (when pandemic restrictions were lifted amidst the spreading of the Omicron and Delta variants) safety precautions were eliminated, and they were expected to act as though they weren’t still in danger. 

For people who have been working low-paying jobs or jobs that they didn’t particularly like, the conditions in the midst of the pandemic were the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak: now, businesses across industries are having to deal with a widespread shortage of employees, as those same employees reconsider what they want from their jobsOpens in a new tab..  

Employees are looking for, among other things, higher pay, better benefits, COVID-safe precautions despite a lack of government regulation, and for employers who will recognize the good work, they’re doing properly, not treating them as replaceable or looking to pay the minimum amount for the work they do. 

If you’re having trouble attracting or keeping employees, instead of blaming the workforce for a perceived “laziness,” you might want to reconsider your employee value proposition. 

Employee Value Proposition: Why Should I Work For You?

Your company’s employee value proposition is, put succinctly, what draws employees to consider you a great place to work, including corporate culture, benefits, pay, and anything else that may prove compelling to an employee. It’s important to remember that in today’s world, amidst this labor shortage, companies are required to sell themselves to would-be employees as much as (if not more than) those employees are required to do the same. 

Think of your employee value proposition as the corporate equivalent of a resume: ask not what your employee can do for you, but what you can do for your employee because that’s really all they care about (and for good reason). 

Here are some things you should consider when evaluating your employee value proposition (EVP), especially if you’re having a hard time keeping would-be employees hooked:

  • Pay, especially when compared to your competition. Remember, in a would-be employee’s mind, none of the other factors of your EVP hold a candle to whether they’re going to be able to keep a roof over their head or put food on the table. And sometimes, it’s not even necessarily about that: sometimes, it’s just about whether they’re getting paid an appropriate amount for the work they do. If you’re paying less than your competitors for the same job, you’ll want to give your overall pay scale a significant bump: this can also help you keep the employees you have, making sure that they stay happy, energized, and productiveOpens in a new tab.
  • Corporate culture. Have you done your part to cultivate a supportive corporate culture that encourages learning and growth in its employees? Good corporate culture is more than just a talking point: it’s a reality that’s demonstrated by how many employees you’ve retained, how many have advanced from entry-level positions into greater-responsibility positions, and the kinds of reviews your company has aggregated on platforms like Indeed. If you notice that you have high turnover rates, that very few employees ever advance, or that you have a lot of employees quitting a short time after you’re hired, that may be a sign that the truth of your corporate culture needs to be re-evaluated. 
  • Are your corporate values talking points, or present in how your company does business? You should be able to explain to would-be employees how your corporate values inflect every aspect of your work, as a failure to do so might leave would-be employees feeling as though your corporate values are just hollow words. 
  • Interview current employees. How are they feeling about their workplace? Do they dread coming into work every day, or are there issues with the workplace that they’ve voiced that they don’t feel have been addressed? Taking the temperature of your current working staff can also be a great starting point to working out some of the unseen kinks in your work environment: make sure that they have a platform from which to voice those concerns without retaliation, and you may get a lot of useful input to act upon. 

Getting the Word Out: Evaluating How You Recruit New Employees

Once you’ve done the hard work of evaluating your EVP, the next step will be to take a look at the tools and means by which you actually recruit others. You could have the strongest EVP amongst all of your competitors and then some: it won’t matter if you aren’t able to get the word out effectively. For that, you can hire a recruitment agency like NAS RecruitmentOpens in a new tab. to redesign and rework the means by which you recruit candidates, or you can work on your messaging yourself. 

When evaluating the tools through which your recruitment is done, you want to ask yourself a few questions: how easy is it for applicants to fill out an application? Are there redundancies in the process? Do you have a mix of traditional and digitally-based recruitment methods at my disposal, and is the word about your company’s EVP getting out there as far and wide as it possibly can? 

If you find the answers to these questions to be unsatisfactory, you’ve found a hole in your recruitment strategy, one that may have resulted in top talent falling through the cracks and out of reach. Recruitment agencies can be helpful in this regard, as their staff of professionals is trained to recognize and plug these holes: if you recognize that your recruitment infrastructure is lacking, give a qualified recruitment agency a call, and they might be able to save you a lot of time and effort. 

Recruiting top talent in the years to come is only going to get harder, as there’s a very slim chance the workforce will ever go back to the way it was pre-pandemic. To survive, your company will have to adjust with the times, making changes to its EVP and how its recruitment marketing is done. It’s a lot of work to do, and you don’t have much time, so contact a recruitment agency today and get started working out the kinks in your strategy. 

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