Hiring and retaining talented employees has become a bigger challenge for Long Island business owners navigating their way back from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The headwinds impacting employers are more intense in certain industries, such as restaurants and bars, but not limited to them.. To help employers, expert panelists speaking during a Wednesday webinar produced by Newsday and the Long Island Association and moderated by economics writer James T. Madore offered advice.
"This is a very difficult environment for everybody," said John Coverdale, president of the Center for Workplace Solutions Inc., a human resources consultancy. Coverdale said many business owners are "beating themselves over" the struggles instead of looking at constructive ways to adapt to the situation.
"One of the things I am suggesting to clients is you take a look at the recruitment process in its totality," Coverdale said. Reviewing job descriptions, revisiting compensation packages and revising the way companies talk about their work environments all play a part in attracting talent, he said.
"This is a very employee-centered market right now," he said. Questions like "’Are we casting a wide-enough net? What about the language in our job descriptions? The qualifications — are they really necessary in this environment?’" are all important to consider, he said.
Employers should be marketing their jobs similarly to how they might promote their services or products to customers, Coverdale added. "’What is it about our organization that’s good? Is that reflected in how we present ourselves to prospective employees, or did we fall short somewhere?’"
Melissa Feeney, senior vice president of human resources at Bethpage Federal Credit Union, said when it comes to retention and hiring, employers need to be willing to listen and implement employee ideas that make for a more desirable workplace.
"Employers really need to care about their people and ask them what they want and let them make recommendations for you to evaluate," said Feeney. "When people believe you care about them it goes a really long way. That also translates to hiring."
One important piece in the hiring strategy at Zebra Technologies Corporation has been its employee referral program, which rewards current workers with bonuses for referring job applicants who get hired by the company.
"What we’ve found is one of the most effective components of our recruiting strategy is employee referrals," said Melissa Luff Loizides, the company's vice president of human resources.
"The positive feedback that employees experience in the workplace and their sharing of those experiences is a mechanism that really attracts new and potential workers," she said.