How to secure top talent in a cautious market
With the working lives of so many Australians impacted by COVID-19, it’s understandable that candidates’ priorities are changing too.

Notably, job security has emerged as a strong focus for candidates. In fact, 2 in 3 candidates feel that because of COVID-19, job security is more important than salary, research conducted on behalf of SEEK shows. And 41% of candidates say they will be more nervous about changing jobs.

With this and other changes to what candidates value, plus an environment of ongoing uncertainty, employers face extra challenges in trying to appeal to top talent now.

Adjusting your approach can help you to attract talent despite these challenges. Here’s a look at what to consider, and how to ensure your people strategy stays strong.

Plan ahead and look inwards

While job security is the biggest driver, there are still lots of candidates passively seeking roles. Sinead Connolly, Director and Co-founder at Lotus People, says candidates are more considered than ever and diligently taking the time to assess whether it’s worth making a move for the right opportunity. That’s why forward planning is key.

At RMIT University, they recognise that the attraction phase in a candidate journey can begin eighteen months ahead of time. “That way, when candidates start to feel more confident in themselves and the economy, they have you as an employer of choice top of their mind,” says Global Employer Branding Manager, Quila Cervelli.

She also says it’s the perfect time to look internally and give opportunities to existing employees. “We consistently promote our exceptional learning and development opportunities as part of a rich internal mobility program.”

Make sure roles and expectations align

Connolly says that while candidate behaviour has changed, individuals still want to progress their careers. “Now more than ever, we are seeing candidates wanting to align themselves to their purpose, and to meaningful work,” she adds.

She says if you want to attract the best people in a nervous market, a hands-on approach is very important. A crucial first step is to understand a candidate’s motivations and drivers.

“After that, it’s about clear communication – describe the organisation’s current state, its growth plans and learning opportunities for the particular role,” she says.

At Lotus People, when working with top talent, they speak to candidates daily, update them on the process, provide guidance, answer questions and manage concerns, Connolly says.

Cervelli agrees that communication with candidates is key. “Be like an open book during the candidate journey – tell them what is happening on what day, when they will hear from you and what they should expect while they are waiting,” she adds.

Reshape your Employee Value Proposition

Cervelli says employers need to step up when it comes to communicating their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) now. Traditionally an EVP focuses on what someone can expect in a job or employer, but in the current climate, it needs to highlight how someone can personalise their potential work arrangements.

“This may include how prospective hires can work at home with children or even make the role part-time to work around their personal circumstances,” she says.

In risk-averse times, your EVP needs to attract a broad community. One way to do this is to highlight stories of employees that represent a range of communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, LGBTIAQ+ people, people with accessibility requirements and flexible workers.

“It needs to contain authentic stories that showcase what your organisation has built to foster community and career advancement and how enriching experiences have been created,” Cervelli says. This may include videos, blogs, interview content, live 1:1s or webinars.”

Connolly agrees and says that with such an uncertain environment, and with mental health a major concern, candidates are now looking to organisations with strong leadership.

“A genuine concern for, and willingness to invest in, wellbeing and mental health, the technology to do their roles well and the flexibility to work from home whilst their organisation maintains a strong company culture are key.”

Considering the things employees value outside of money such as purpose, learning and choice can also help shape the way you attract talent.

Why a strong people strategy matters now

Planning ahead, looking to internal talent, ensuring roles and expectations align and reshaping your EVP are all ways that your organisation could strengthen its people strategy now.

With candidate behaviour changing drastically since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia, a strong people strategy is essential.

It allows you to have focus and clear direction when it comes to securing the best people, identifying who your organisation will want in the future and understanding how you can bring your brand to market and create a strong pipeline of candidates for future hires.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4800 Australians annually. Published October 2020.

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