Candice Harris & Jarrod Haar* – Internationally, and especially within the US, there has been a lot of talk about the so-called “great resignation” – the trend seeing large numbers of workers leaving their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, having reevaluated their priorities or simply because there are more opportunities than ever before.
While there isn’t enough firm data to confirm this is happening in New Zealand yet, there is little doubt a chronic skills shortage has given workers more bargaining power. Perhaps not surprisingly, research shows more and more workers are at least thinking about either changing or quitting their jobs since last year.
But this phenomenon – defined as “turnover intentions” – could also fuel what we’re calling the “great recruitment”. After all, as physics teaches us, for every action there is a reaction.
Calling it the great recruitment is obviously related to the sheer volume of recruitment activity that logically follows a great resignation. But it is also a reference to the related importance of a positive – great – recruitment experience for potential employees.
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Not a negative trend
Classic supply and demand principles tell us that if more workers are seeking greener employment pastures, there will be more ready-to-hire talent in the marketplace. For that reason alone, we urge organisations not to consider the great resignation a negative trend in the job market.
Of course, to be successful the great recruitment must be supported by businesses that prioritise the recruitment process, from candidate care to the vetting and hiring team, to the use of technology and protecting the organisation’s reputation and brand.
However, there are many practices that not only undermine but entirely defeat the positive potential of a great recruitment, including:
- “ghosting”, where candidates apply for a role but get no response or experience a sudden silence part way through the process
- posting vague or corny job descriptions – “customer services expert” anyone? – that do nothing to excite or provide context for potential applicants
- relying too heavily on quasi-scientific personality profile tests and asking questions that are at best tokenistic, at worst discriminatory.
Making recruitment great
We also see recruitment processes stumble at the last hurdle by engaging in Game of Thrones-style salary negotiations, where candidates feel like they’re challenging a noble family. This is particularly disadvantages women and ethnic minorities.
How then to ensure your organisation is capturing the talent potential released by the great resignation and maximising the employment potential of the great recruitment? Here are our top 10 tips:
- Choose your words carefully: write inspiring, authentic job advertisements. If your recruitment team can’t do it, get someone who can.
- Be realistic: create reasonable candidate specifications – wanting extreme levels of skill, attitude and experience is likely put off good candidates.
- Canvas others: when designing employee value propositions, get input from recruiters and current employees.
- Remember glass houses: recognise there is no such thing as perfect behaviour when using behavioural-based interview questions, especially given the organisation itself may be questionable in some of its conduct.
- 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.
- Go back to the future: be open to hiring past employees. Initiatives such as alumni programmes can be used to connect with and recruit former employees.
- Know your 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.
- Be technology wise: use automated recruitment technology (such as SnapHire, JobAdder or QJumpers) to enhance – not replace – an integrated people-oriented recruitment experience.
- 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.
With more talent in the market, those in recruitment will need to sharpen their games. Given much recruitment activity is outsourced and many recruiters will be booming in the current climate, organisational clients should have great expectations of recruitment professionals, too.
Employees face enough challenges in their working lives without having to endure a recruitment experience that is anything less than great.
Finally, the great recruitment must also account for future talent. Before we know it, the Roblox generation will be hitting the workforce, already adept at digital creation and collaboration, and expecting similar things from recruiters.
If we get it right, the great recruitment is a chance for employers to recast the great resignation as an opportunity for everyone to do better – now and into the future.
Candice Harris is a Professor of Management in the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law at Auckland University of Technology (AUT). She is also Head of the Management Department – home to 30 academic staff across three discipline groups: Management, Human Resource Management and Employment Relations, and Sustainability and Ethics. Her main areas of research are careers, gendered experiences of work (paid and unpaid) and advancement, discourses of work, and critical approaches to research.
Professor Jarrod Haar (PhD) has tribal affiliations of Ngati Maniapoto and Ngati Mahuta.
He is a Member of the Marsden Fund Council and is the Convenor of the Marsden Economics and Human Behavioural Sciences panel.
In April 2016, he became the Deputy Director of the NZ Work Research Institute.
His research approach spans broadly across a wide range of management topics, but with a strong focus on Human Resource Management and Organizational Behaviour, particularly work-life balance.