Open up any newspaper and you’ll find a headline speaking to the current labor shortage around the world. What’s fascinating to me about our current challenge is that it’s not isolated to a single industry or type of role. Companies from retailers to SaaS companies, including ActiveCampaign, are hiring across departments and regions. And this hiring surge doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
This points to a bigger adjustment that the economy as a whole needs to make. In a future piece, I’ll talk about how every business now needs a high-growth hiring mindset. That’s a crucial response to the increased competition for talent and the increased choice that potential employees now have. However, there’s another equally important adjustment that organizations need to make. They don’t just need a hiring strategy for sourcing software developers, sales teams, or marketers. They need a competitive approach, a well-considered value proposition, and a compelling employee experience for every role.
Talent strategies like these require a range of different skills and capabilities. If you pile all these responsibilities onto one individual or one team, elements of the strategy can easily get lost amid the pressure to fill vacancies. We’ve found real value in separating responsibility for sourcing talent from the hiring process itself. One team focuses on identifying the skills we’re going to need, thinking imaginatively about where we can find them, building an employer brand, and analyzing what our likely candidates need from us. The other team feeds that insight into the design of the candidate experience, the packages we offer, and the interview process.
BRINGING TALENT STRATEGIES TO LIFE
A big part of this process involves expanding your view of the talent that’s available. We seek out transferrable skills: people who have the right capabilities but are currently applying them in another sector. You won’t find these if your candidate search focuses on people with specific experience at companies like yours. Think about those who could sidestep into your roles—and who could be motivated to do so.
Many businesses pride themselves on culture without thinking through the real implications that could have in the hiring process. Culture can narrow the talent pool by tempting you to prioritize candidates who will fit in—who are most like the employees you already have. It can distort the candidate search if it leads you to seek graduates from a small group of colleges, or former employees of particular companies. As an alternative to vague notions of cultural fit, try to define your values as a business and elevate them as the benchmark you measure candidates by. If their values are the same as yours, it doesn’t matter whether they are introverted or extroverted, watch the same TV shows, or share a common background.
ELEVATING EVERY ROLE
When candidates’ priorities change, your proposition to them has to evolve as well. That’s why we’re seeing more businesses offering perks like flexible working, open PTO policies, baristas in-office, and meaningful benefits like wellness programs, extensive parental leave, and paid volunteer time. You don’t have to be a tech business or an office-based business to start thinking creatively about how you put together a persuasive employee package. You give yourself a crucial edge in any sector when you do.
Evolving recruitment in these ways isn’t just a case of sweetening the deal to make it through a temporary labor squeeze. It’s a risk to assume that we’re just going through a unique recovery from a unique downturn that’s resulted in a short-term supply and demand glitch. The talent market is sending a clear signal that no employee is interchangeable and easily replaceable. We can’t assume there’s an endless conveyor belt of people available and eager to do jobs on our terms. If a role is crucial to your business delivery then every person in that role is an asset that needs to be nurtured, invested in, and supported.
I’m the leader of a customer experience automation business, and I believe that innovation and technology have a role to play in this transition. But that role doesn’t involve automating everything we can think of so that we are less dependent on employees. I would argue that it should involve elevating every role that we need an employee to play. We can deploy automations intelligently to cut out unnecessary tasks and make people’s work more focused and more fulfilling. We can design roles where people get to use interpersonal skills, charisma, and empathy while cutting out the more mundane tasks that go with many front-line jobs. We can treat each and every human asset like a growth asset, enabled by technology. Because that’s what we need them to be.
Experience is crucial to any organization’s growth strategy. We carefully design the experiences of our customers. Yet our ability to deliver those customer experiences will depend on building equally compelling ones for our employees. There’s never been a better time to start.
Jason VandeBoom is the Founder and CEO of ActiveCampaign, the Customer Experience Automation (CXA) category leader.