With the unemployment rate steady around 8.2 percent, many have been wondering exactly what the culprit of the situation is. Some blame a communication gap between employers and job seekers, or the inability to locate highly-qualified candidates.
But what many fail to recognize is there are plenty of things employers themselves aren't getting right, and this is doing nothing to help the sluggish economy. If more employers would begin placing a greater focus on hiring and retention efforts, company culture, and overall employee happiness -- not just their bottom line -- we may see the positive effects have an impact on the economy.
So how can an employer improve its practices? Below are seven habits of highly effective employers:
1. Start spending the money you have on current employees and new ones.
You've probably heard the recession is over, but employment has barely improved. This may be because many companies are holding onto their cash instead of returning people's salaries to pre-recession rates.
One study by Northeastern University found during the first nine months of recovery, pretax corporate profits went up $388 billion, but salaries increased only $68 billion. So, the share going to corporate profits received 85 percent. To compare: during four recoveries since 1980, the share going to corporate profits averaged 19 percent. Thus, corporate profits are at their highest since World War II. Companies need to start focusing on investing in current employees while also setting aside money for new ones.
2. Give a second look to "overqualified" and unemployed applicants.
Some studies suggest there's a bias against jobless candidates, a problematic fact considering the recession killed 7.9 million jobs. Overqualified candidates also tend to be discriminated against--one study found 43 percent of employers feared an overqualified candidate would flee once something better came along.
As a result of these two circumstances, employers often end up being so picky about who fills their open positions that they end up not hiring anyone--and in the process, current employees remain overworked. Jumpstarting hiring often means looking at a candidate's skills and what they can give to your company, rather than focusing on aspects you may see as "baggage."
3. Write better job descriptions.
Aside from including basics like years of experience and educational requirements, ask yourself: what's the ideal candidate like? How can I describe the person I'm looking for? What's a day in the life of the new employee going to be like? What are the specific goals for the job? What are the top reasons they should work at my company? Think about culture, values, and mission. The more thorough a job description, the better!
4. Utilize new technology to make hiring faster, cheaper, and easier.
From social media to video interviewing and everything in between, there are a huge number of options out there to smooth out your hiring process. Consider using online recruiting tools to search for and organize potential employees, and scour social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn to locate top candidates. Technology has made hiring an easy and cost-effective process -- don't neglect to use it!
5. Develop a culture worth joining.
Developing a quality company culture means having a concrete vision, mission, and values that are integrated in every aspect of the company and hiring process. Rewards and recognition, company social events, internal communication, and adequate amount of feedback (on both employee and manager performance) can help to foster an attractive company culture. Remember, we spend a huge chunk of our lives at work -- make sure your office is a place actually worth spending time.
6. Train your hiring managers... or outsource hiring altogether.
There are various aspects of the hiring process that HR managers can get wrong -- maybe they don't follow up when they get a referral, or they neglect to check a candidate's online presence. Thus, it's important to train your hiring managers to identify the gaps and ensure your process is quick and pain-free for both managers and candidates. A poor hiring process can actually turn off what would otherwise be great employees.
7. Place an emphasis on professional development.
Before the recession, professional development and training were important parts of working at an organization. Companies cared about making sure their employees had up-to-date skills. Now, companies want everyone to come "perfect" -- with all the skills they might ever need for a position. This is very short-term thinking, and turns off candidates who may not exactly fit every aspect of the job description, but are willing and able to learn nonetheless. Recognition and rewards programs should be put in place, along with opportunities for skills development in the office, like webinars and workshops.
It's my belief that if employers turned their emphasis away from profit only and focused more on company culture, hiring practices, job creation, and employee development, it would have a notably positive impact on the state of employment in general. Remember, employees don't just want a job -- they want a place where they can learn and grow. Putting these habits in place is just the beginning.
Follow Heather Huhman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/heatherhuhman