Getting to the Root of Your Recruiting Challenges

Every day, I hear about companies with recruiting challenges, and each of them has a different theory for the reason. They think good people are just too hard to find, their industry is too competitive, there aren’t enough qualified candidates coming through the pipeline. Or they believe it’s because they can’t pay enough, or the office is located too far from transit. Some businesses also struggle with retention and turnover issues, so their company shrinks instead of growing, and they don’t know why. There are many root causes for recruiting woes, and if you don’t know what problem you’re trying to solve, it’s hard to reach in and fix it.

What we notice is that recruiting challenges can stem from a variety of issues. Is it difficult to recruit and hire because your company is in a very tough and competitive industry? Maybe. Or maybe it’s because you can’t offer a high salary or a comfortable physical environment? It could be the words you use to describe your culture are inaccurate or uninspiring, or because your employer brand or reputation needs a shot in the arm. It could also be because your managers and leaders aren’t trustworthy, or that your company says one thing about your culture but acts differently. Each of these situations can lead to a recruiting or turnover crisis, and can be solved with time, effort, and self-awareness. The solution in each case is quite different, however, so you need to know what questions to ask, and you need to be willing to accept and understand the answers.

Here are a few tips to help you uncover your company’s recruiting story:

  • Ask your staff: Your employees are your best resource for information. Why do they stay? What do they like about their job? What got them excited to join your company, and was the culture and role what they expected it to be? Do they feel safe and productive? What would they change about your company if they could? If you suspect your own leadership style or managerial team might be an issue, or if you aren’t sure your team will have the courage to be honest with you, an anonymous survey can be useful. Also don’t miss out on the opportunity to reach out to employees when they choose to leave.
  • Look at the numbers: Engaged staff tend to call in sick less often, are more productive, have better peer relationships, come up with great ideas, take care of your customers better, and tell you what’s going on. They are also your best recruiting tool – they bring in more friends and colleagues from other companies, and they are energetic and appealing ambassadors at hiring fairs and open houses.
  • Ask your clients: What is your client experience? Often happy and engaged employees will create positive client or customer relationships. Very often, we can tell if the person on the phone or behind the desk enjoys what they’re doing. Someone on the outside looking in can provide objective feedback about your organization, its efficiency, culture, productivity, systems, and quality. Problems here are all indicators of internal issues.
  • Look online: What do current and former employees say about working for your company? What do clients or customers say about you? You can search reviews and ratings on job sites, customer review sites, and elsewhere on social media. It’s easy to dismiss occasional bad press, but if you’re looking for an underlying trend, read everything you can find and be curious about what it’s telling you.

Once you have enough information, you can gain insight, see trends, identify root causes, and set new goals. Perhaps your physical office space isn’t set up well enough, or you are not treating people with respect, or your systems aren’t serving you. Maybe your new managers are not quite ready to be leaders, or you are rewarding the wrong behaviours or results. Maybe you need to build up your company’s reputation so that candidates can hear about your engaging and rewarding business practices. Maybe you are part of the problem, and you need coaching or support. Or it could be that your industry is intensely competitive and you need to design new and creative ways to reach the candidates you want.

Can you see the root causes for your recruiting challenges?  

Heidi Eaves

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