The following article was written by Matt Heiden, Flexware Innovation’s Director of Talent Management, in support of a panel discussion at Rockwell Automation’s 2022 Automation Fair. Matt is responsible for finding and hiring Flexware candidates that fit specific roles as we partner with clients in solving their toughest manufacturing challenges. He also assists Flexware’s clients as they search for talented individuals. Matt has served in this role for Flexware since 2016 and has been responsible in hiring over 150 new Flexware employees.
Overcoming the Great Resignation: Recruiting Strategies That Look Beyond Skills
How would you describe your company’s culture? If you struggle to answer this question, in detail, then you’re likely reeling from the full effects of “The Great Resignation.” Culture is crucial to your organization because it provides stability and will guide you through trends and sways in the market, like we’re experiencing today. Spoiler; find people who thrive and are in alignment with your culture.
There are many reasons why The Great Resignation happened, and continues today. I’ve had a front row seat to this volatile market as a recruiting professional in a technology firm, Flexware Innovation. While some of these observations apply to any industry, clearly you’ll see some reflections through the lens of a technology company (this is especially true for the third point below). So, what’s behind The Great Resignation?
- It’s a candidate’s market
- Companies are hiring for skills and ‘warm bodies’
- Employees can work from anywhere
A Look at Traditional Recruiting and Retention Strategies
- It’s a candidate’s market. This is both perplexing and simple at the same time. The simple truth is that businesses are desperate for employees, so candidates have a choice where to go. Simple supply and demand is on display. If someone is not happy with at their current employer, for any reason, there is no shortage of companies standing ready to talk.
- Companies are hiring for skills and ‘warm bodies’. The technology industry has been strained for many years with a shortage of skilled workers. Many companies reverted to simply hiring people if needed skills were listed on a resume. And too often candidates were not properly vetted. Just because a candidate claims to have certain skills and experience doesn’t mean they have the depth that your team may need. I have heard stories of companies that would offer a candidate a position on the spot after a 30-minute call with a recruiter. There is simply no way you can understand someone’s entire skillset (and know what they want out of their career) in a 30-minute phone call.
- Employees can work from anywhere. This too relates to this being a candidates market. Companies have varying mandates, restrictions, and policies about where and how employees can work. If an employee doesn’t like their employers policy it’s all too easy to find someone that allows them to work where and how they want. This is a two-sided coin that is sometimes overlooked. Some jobs require you to be in an office, manufacturing plant floor, or other place where work is done. While many people claim work can be done remotely, the simple truth is not everyone can. Companies must be flexible with those who can work remotely, but workers need to understand that work in an office, place of business, or on a manufacturing plant floor is required at times. Companies are having to find balance between what works for them and their workers.
A Look at Flexware Innovation’s Recruiting and Retention Strategies
Now, let’s circle back to the open question about your culture. What does Culture have to do with overcoming these 3 obstacles during the Great Resignation? In this next section I’ll explain how Flexware approaches these topics through hiring not only the skills, but finding candidates that align with our culture and core values.
1 and 2) It’s a candidate’s market and companies are hiring for skills and “warm bodies.” Since these two relate when it comes to solutions, I combined them. Yes, employees can leave, but that leaves opportunities for companies like Flexware to find what the candidate is missing with their current employer. Your goal is to asses a candidates needs and whether your company can fill those needs, without compromising your values and culture. If you can, then a fit may be possible. In simple terms I see five areas that need to align for employees to be happy in a role and in a company.
- Skill Alignment – Are they being challenged enough in their day-to-day work, or are they looking to do more? Do they have the skills to succeed in the role they are in?
- Work Life Balance – Are they able to enjoy their hobbies, interests, and families outside of work? Or are they too stressed and over worked that they can’t enjoy these things?
- Money – Sure, we all want to be paid more, but is that a particular employees primary driver? Are you not getting paid enough and are being paid under market value?
- Career Advancement – Are they stuck in their current role with little opportunity to do anything else? Maybe they are and they are ok with that, but if they want to advance, are there opportunities available?
- Culture – Does your company have a definable culture (good or bad)? Do employees align with that culture? Can you describe the culture?
At Flexware we look at candidates, and employees, to determine if they are fulfilled in these 5 areas. If they are, they are probably not looking for a career change. However, maybe one or several of these areas are lacking. If so, which one is it? It is our job as recruiters to identify these areas and determine IF THEY ARE IN ALIGNMENT with our company. At the end of the day, if candidates aren’t then the future employee will eventually be unhappy and look elsewhere. While we can’t stop everyone from leaving, we can do our best to get people in alignment with what they are doing, what they want out of their careers, and how that fits with the goals of our companies. If we can accomplish this then we will end up with dedicated, engaged, and enthusiastic employees that will weather “The Great Resignation” or whatever other storm is on the next horizon.
3) Employees can work from anywhere. Yes, many employees can work from anywhere, but have you looked at the roles in your company to see if they can, or should, work from anywhere? If they are, are you allowing them to do so or are you mandating that they work in the office because you don’t trust them? If they are needed in your place of business, what are you doing to make it a great work place? This ties back to your culture. It’s not enough to simply say you have a great workplace and that employees enjoy their jobs? What makes it that way? What is your culture?
Flexware has defined our culture through our 4 Core Values. Many companies have core values as ‘things on the wall’, but when it comes down to it, they don’t live them out every day. Flexware’s 4 Core Values are (in no particular order):
- Say it like it Is: Strive to communicate honestly and humbly.
- Never Stop Learning: Improve through curiosity.
- Own it: Say it. Do it. Finish it.
- Be Healthy: Stay fit personally, relationally, and financially.
So how do we live out these values every day at Flexware? First, when we interview potential employees we look for how candidates live out, or don’t live out, these 4 core values. We attempt to draw out stories that illustrate how they handle a variety of situations and whether we see those values in them or not. This can be an ambiguous task, but when you know your values, you can see them in others. I’m reminded of the great Lou Holtz’s quote when he was once asked to describe the mystique of Notre Dame, he said: “Those who know Notre Dame, no explanation’s necessary. Those who don’t, no explanation will suffice”. When you have a healthy culture and values, it just becomes who you are, and who your company is… and no explanation will be necessary.
At Flexware, we have also defined 10 beliefs that we work on daily that further support and define our Core Values. They are a way of diving deeper and giving substance to our Culture.
If you have questions on how these concepts might apply to you, your organization, or your career, feel free to reach out to me. Like you, I learn and grow when talking with others.
Director of Talent Management
Director of Talent Management
Proud father of two. Golf enthusiast. Enjoy creating new connections.