For the seventh year in a row, the results of the 2007 ERC/SmartBusiness Workplace Practices Survey suggest that hiring and retaining employees is the most prominent challenge facing organizations in Northeast Ohio.
While it may appear unachievable, given that the number of organizations facing this challenge appears to increase every year, it’s not. Organizations continue to rise to the challenge, adopting great workplace practices that help attract and retain top talent, and this year is no exception — they are truly conquering this seemingly impossible task.
Organizations are continuing to improve their hiring practices to meet new demands and competition. The results of our survey suggest that organizations are using the Internet to a greater degree for recruiting and hiring purposes, as 40 percent of organizations reported having an online career center. The number of organizations using Internet job boards has increased nearly 25 percent in the past seven years. Likewise, the average percent of recruiting budgets spent on online advertisements has increased significantly each year.
The number of companies performing reference checks on applicants and using psychological assessments has increased from last year. The use of these selection tools continues to rise each year, indicating that organizations are implementing sound hiring processes that ensure the selection of top candidates.
The average percentage of an organization’s work force that is temporary is down to 2.9 percent — the lowest in seven years. The use of a contingent work force is down to an all-time low of 5.6 percent, as well. More employers appear to be hiring full-time and permanent employees — a great sign of economic development in the area.
Not only are organizations improving their hiring practices, they are also consciously making efforts to retain the employees they do have, particularly in the area of benefits. The percentage of companies offering Health Savings Plans is up 9.3 percent over last year. The percentage of companies offering ownership opportunities to nonmanagement employees has increased from last year, as well, and 44 percent of companies are offering flexible arrangements for employees.
Nearly 75 percent of organizations are using long-term service awards to keep quality employees. Programs such as these help retain employees and create great workplaces.
Hiring and retaining great employees is not an unattainable goal, although trends make it seem so. We need to constantly be asking ourselves what we could be doing differently to face the challenge of creating workplaces that hire and retain top performers who stay and thrive. We’ve included some ideas to help you based on this year’s results.
Institute an employee referral program. Getting top-performing employees talking about the company to their friends about how much they love working there is the best recruitment tool. This will generate a pool of great candidates and a solid reputation for being a fabulous workplace.
Develop your employees. Only 8.6 percent of employees in organizations surveyed were promoted this year, and less than a quarter of organizations surveyed have mentorship programs. Top performers want new and challenging work, and research has shown that employees who leave organizations typically do so to seek out new career development opportunities. So start developing and advancing your employees and putting programs into place that make this happen.
Implement work-life programs. None of the surveyed organizations have an elder-care assistance program, and very few have child-care assistance programs, yet there is increasingly high demand for these work-life-friendly programs. To distinguish yourself from your competition, institute a low-cost program for your employees.
Continue to promote the area. Advertise all of the great places in Northeast Ohio and the perks of working in this region. Link www.ercnet.org/neohio/index.htm to your Web site.
Congratulations to all the organizations that continuously exhibit that the art of hiring and retaining quality employees is not an impossible challenge. And thank you to all the organizations that participated in this year’s survey. You are cultivating great workplaces every day by creating the unthinkable, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and challenging the seemingly impossible.
PAT PERRY is president of ERC, Northeast Ohio’s largest organization dedicated to HR and work-place programs, practices, training and consulting. Reach him at (440) 684-9700 or email@example.com.