By David Gibbs
While Queenstown hasn’t been hit by the impact of the so called 'great resignation', we have been part of the trend that is seeing a number of workers leaving their jobs, having re-evaluated their priorities or simply because there are more opportunities elsewhere. We’ve also seen, I suspect, a relocation-drain as people leave the area for other larger markets or even to return to their home country in some cases. More people are leaving the area than arriving resulting in a smaller working pool of employees.
While there isn’t data to confirm this is happening in Queenstown, there is little doubt we have a chronic skills shortage that has given workers extraordinarily more bargaining power. I’m sure I’m not alone in hearing conversations in cafes and parks where staff are openly talking their bargaining approach in asking for more dollars, better benefits or less hours.
The shortage of staff coupled with the critical financial position that many businesses find themselves in has resulted in some very long shifts for many workers with little team support. This unrelenting pressure is also waring on staff who eventually can’t do it anymore and join those leaving or moving jobs. This isn’t related to just employees by the way; many owners are also working significantly more in the business just to fill some key roles and keep the doors open. Perhaps not surprisingly then, our 2021 jobfix.com research showed that a third or more of workers have moved jobs in the last twelve months and more are at least thinking about either changing or quitting their jobs since last year.
This amount of turnover and intended turnover can have a silver lining, however. Employers can step back and look at their recruitment as an opportunity as, one of the few things I remember from my physics class, for every action there is a reaction. After all, nearly every business in Queenstown is looking for staff if all the ads on jobfix and Lakes Weekly Sits Vac columns as well signs in windows can be believed.
Are we in the Great Recruitment? Think positively
The classic supply and demand world suggests that if more employees are looking for different or better employment, that will turn into more people open to making a move in the marketplace. For that reason alone, there is reason to look on the bright side and think positively of the opportunity that presents.
Of course, new employees aren’t always going to come knocking on your door. You, as the boss of recruitment (plus probably everything else in your business) have to dedicate quality time to the recruitment process, from candidate attraction, to developing the benefits package, vetting and hiring, to the use of language in the advert and promoting your business reputation and brand.
Ultimately, if you are looking to attract quality staff, you are competing with all the other companies in Queenstown including the big guys, the newbies with their shiny new toys and the ‘fun’ places. Don’t throw an advert together, place it in the Lakes Weekly and maybe Seek and hope! Spend time crafting something that is attractive, well written and clear.
MAKING RECRUITMENT GREAT
How then to ensure you are capturing the talent potential available in Queenstown and maximise the employment opportunity to build a great team that will stay. Here are our top tips:
- Choose your words carefully. Write inspiring, authentic job advertisements. If you can’t, it’s not your strength or you don’t have the bandwidth, get someone who can. A colleague, mate or even someone in your team. Please don’t use hackneyed sayings that simply make your ad look stupid! Things like 'amazing job opportunity', 'positive can-do attitude', 'superstar wanted' still regularly appear.
- Consider the headline carefully. What's going to get someone to stop and consider the role. Prior to Covid 99% of the job ads just listed what the employer wanted from the employee but this has completely changed. You must sell your company's culture, what will you do for the candidate – signing bonus, flexible shifts or hours, allowances, development, will you accept apprentices? Get these into the advert.
- Consider collaboration. You may not have a lot of benefits that your employees value but we are a small town and I’m sure you know another business that has attractive products, such as a hotel or an activity, where you could collaborate in order to build some benefits for your staff that makes it attractive to work for you.
- Be realistic. Create reasonable candidate specifications – put the hours in, consider putting the pay scale in, put in the business hours, will the person work on their own, remotely or in a team. At the moment perhaps even something about your protections to keep staff safe from Covid.
- Avoid making statements that are likely put off good potential candidates. They can include wanting extreme levels of skill, impossible attitude expectations and experience.
- Involve others. When designing the roles and company value propositions, get input from other business owners who know you, and current employees.
- Check the ad. And ask yourself or others in the team, would you apply for this role based on the advert?
Interviewing and reference checking.
- Don’t hire on just one interview and also if it's an important role don’t interview in the same location. Maybe the first time is over a coffee and the next in a more formal location - how comfortable is the candidate. Also, not only are they selling themselves to you, you are doing the same to them.
- Ask candidates what’s important to them. Listen and speak to their needs. How can you accommodate what’s important? Time to pick up the kids, flexible shifts or hours, parking, ski pass, education and development? Address these directly and honestly.
- Even in the current environment, do reference check and have your question written down prior and write the answers down. Include 'would you rehire' as a question and challenge anything evasive or odd. I’m always amazed at how many employers don’t check with past employers. Also, when reference checking don’t go in with the mindset that this is a list checking exercise and the candidate is a done deal. If it doesn’t come out to your satisfaction, it’s probably because you may want to pass and keep looking.
- Consider the context: give due consideration to reference check results – if a candidate’s last boss says he or she was disconnected in the end, perhaps it’s because they were already in a high state of turnover intention.
- Know your current team: be open to conversations about the attributes and attitudes of the person a successful candidate will be reporting to, and the team they will be working with. Are their holes you would like to fill.
- Provide clear pay ranges: if an applicant knows what the pay is from the outset, it saves everyone valuable time and energy.
- Be gracious: formally thank all candidates for applying – this can help ensure you retain them as future applicants and/or customers.
Conversely, there are some practices that not only undermine but entirely defeat the positive potential of a great recruitment, including:
- Above all we recommended thanking all candidates for applying, nothing frustrates candidates more than when they get no response or experience a sudden silence part way through the process despite reaching out. If the answer is no or you’ve moved on let them know.
- posting vague or corny job descriptions ('customer services expert' anyone?) that do nothing to excite or provide context for potential applicants.
Finally, If you don’t have a great benefits package, I’m not talking money here, to keep your employees glued in, if you aren’t treating your team well, talking to them and sharing how the business is doing, you are at great risk of having some of your current team join the great recruitment drive and become others valued employees.