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The “Great Retention”: It all starts with hiring

Eric Sydell, Modern Hire
Eric Sydell
Eric Sydell is executive vice president of innovation at Modern Hire.

In many ways, the pandemic was a wake-up call for businesses around their talent acquisition strategies. In the spring of 2021, job openings and resignations in the U.S. hit record highs, with 9.3 million people unemployed. Respectively, organizations were scrambling to fill roles and many bypassed thoughtful hiring processes, opting to quickly offer positions to anyone who could meet the minimum job qualifications.

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The problem with using this “warm body” approach to offset the Great Resignation was the lack of quality control. Once the dust settled from an influx of reactionary hiring decisions, many companies found themselves in a troublesome position with a workforce of unqualified employees struggling to perform in their roles, consequently leading to low productivity, disengagement and high turnover. According to Gallup, disengaged employees have 81% higher absenteeism and 14% lower productivity, while highly engaged business units result in a 23% difference in profitability.

Another issue that can arise when not utilizing proper objective hiring techniques that help find and match quality candidates with a job’s core competencies, is the resulting lack of diversity in the workplace. This also contributes to lower productivity and employee disengagement.

See also: How AI and recruiting go hand in hand

Leaning in on retention for business success

Retention has become a top priority for businesses, mainly because it’s more cost-effective to retain current employees than to constantly recruit new ones, saving businesses upwards of tens of thousands of dollars in annual turnover fees. But also, by investing in employee retention, companies create a more positive work environment that encourages valuable talent to stay.

This last point has become even more important for businesses after the trends like the Great Resignation, quiet quitting and others gained momentum. There was an obvious disengagement problem in the workforce and businesses were finally clueing into it.

Focusing on retention offers an opportunity to improve company performance across several key metrics, like employee engagement, increased productivity and revenue, improved corporate culture, and more efficient recruitment and training. In many ways, investing in retention can be leveraged as a recruiting tool since the more an organization is performing well against these metrics, the more attractive the workplace is to candidates.

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Although most talent acquisition teams understand this, they don’t necessarily know where to start. The first step as a company is to identify your value proposition for candidates and employees (i.e., What makes your company a great place to work?) and then demonstrate this by showcasing your strong and diverse culture, employee benefits, competitive salary offerings, and additional training and career development opportunities. Sharing stories and images on the career site and through social media that showcase the culture—such as team events, employee recognition programs and volunteer work—can be essential for attracting new candidates.

Hiring for potential, to drive retaining

Once these elements have been defined, hiring teams can use intelligent hiring solutions that integrate advanced selection science and technology to more efficiently, effectively and ethically find candidates that are the right fit for the company. Using data to measure candidate competencies is a strategy that helps hiring teams shortlist quality candidates who can meet the needs of the business. But they can’t do this if they haven’t defined what they are offering and what they are looking for first.

See also: What a skills-based hiring approach can mean for the ‘Great Rebalancing’

Interviews and assessments powered by properly developed artificial intelligence, as well as traditional statistical techniques, can enable objective, accurate and ethical prediction of candidate success by focusing on those competencies proven to be most relevant to the job. Using digital hiring tools also makes the hiring process engaging, especially for millennial and Gen Z candidates who are used to the flexibility of managing tasks on their own schedules. Having the ability to complete recorded interviews (also called on-demand or asynchronous interviews) at their leisure prevents them from having to take time off from work and enables them to interview comfortably from home on their preferred device, all contributing to the overall candidate experience.

Realistic job previews through virtual simulations are another way for employers to provide a positive experience for candidates. Through virtual simulations, candidates have the opportunity to experience typical job activities and challenges while gaining an understanding of how they might handle them in the job. Having the opportunity to see inside the role and the company allows them to feel like they are also a part of the hiring decision, which is most beneficial in the long run. After all, if a candidate is not excited and interested in the job, they will ultimately leave at a great cost to the organization.

Additionally, by giving candidates the opportunity to engage in job-relevant tasks and demonstrate skills related to the specific job, candidates have a better experience and can trust that the decision-making process is transparent, fair and secure. This breaks down the barrier to ineffective hiring assessments and delivers significant results in improving diversity.

For example, using Modern Hire’s virtual assessment platform called the Virtual Job Tryout (VJT), a large retail customer increased the diversity of its new hires, including Hispanics, Blacks and Asians, by as much as 38%-41% compared to previous hiring methods.

The rise of hiring algorithms and artificial intelligence is adding objectivity and speed to the hiring process, enabling hiring teams to make confident candidate selections based on data-driven decisions. Due to AI’s ability to predict candidate potential based on job-relevant data, more employers are adopting this technology. It is absolutely critical, however, that AI be used in an ethical manner. This is especially the case when it comes to scoring interviews and assessments.

One of the big discoveries, as more hiring teams are starting to incorporate big data and AI into their processes, is that bias is everywhere. Every human has innate and unconscious biases that impact decision-making, but using the power of AI, these previously undetected biases can be identified and removed altogether. Most employees want to work for organizations that value diversity, equity and inclusion, and having a diverse workplace is often an important factor in accepting a job.

With advanced hiring tools, organizations are not only empowered to increase their quality of hire but also drive candidate engagement, efficiency and fairness. This is the first important step to retaining employees.