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Filling Your Empty Seats - Candidate Attraction in 2023

By Anne Dowless, SHRM-SCP, HR Consultant


Ever heard the saying ‘you need the right people in the right seats on the bus’? What if you are challenged with getting people ON your proverbial bus? Due to factors such as more workers taking early retirement, lingering negative impacts of COVID, high incarceration numbers, a general decrease in US and global population, and stagnant immigration, the US is currently facing a tremendous labor shortage that will remain in the foreseeable future. Finding good, qualified candidates has become much more competitive! Many job applicants are looking for higher pay and opportunities for advancement in a new position. Not to mention that these challenges are going on while ALL of us are trying to figure out how to battle continued inflation. So, how do we attract people in this competitive environment? We get creative!


First things first. Strategies to attract and retain talent should reflect your culture, increase employee satisfaction, and motivate employee work efforts. Show that you understand the importance of the work your employees do, highlight what makes employees happy, and promote career development. In promoting your company, use language that caters to your ideal candidate and highlights your collaborative environment. Set goals in your hiring and retention and know your audience.


Compensation counts. Employers are utilizing things like hiring bonuses, incentive compensation, and even paying candidates to interview! Beware of paying bonuses too soon – instead, incorporate monthly, quarterly, annual, or ‘longevity’ bonuses. Contemplate things like ‘hazard pay’, production bonuses, attendance bonuses, or shift differentials. Great non-cash options include gift cards and stock options. Compensation should be equitable and aligned with current markets and laws. Romans 4:4 – “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but his due.”


Boost benefits. Having great employee benefits is one great way to attract candidates to your organization. Some companies are expanding their employee benefits offerings to include things such as:

• gym membership reimbursement

• nutritional support

• critical illness benefits

• fertility benefits

• greater (or unlimited) PTO

• longer parental leave

• employee resource groups for personal interests

Employers are also boosting some of their childcare benefits offerings to include things like:

• child-care referrals

• ‘virtual fun’ for kids

• child ride-share credits

• online tutoring

• college counseling services


Another great way to help your employees is to offer financial assistance benefits, which can include:

• tuition and student loan reimbursement

• adoption and/or legal assistance

• car allowances

• financial planning assistance


Curbing costs. Certainly, not all companies can afford some of the larger benefits packages but would still like to adopt some less-costly options for their benefits offerings. Businesses short on cash may consider options like:

• event tickets

• weekly or monthly lunches

• ‘game days’

• shorter Fridays or Fridays off during summer months

• mental health resources (such as an EAP)

• spiritual support such as a visiting chaplain

• monthly or quarterly company events

• annual company day trips

• free breakfast and/or coffee Mondays

• additional feedback opportunities

• casual dress

• flexible work schedules

• the crowd favorite – REMOTE WORK


Culture captivates. In tough economic times, the focus should be more on culture than on perks. No amount of free swag or unlimited PTO can undo the effects of a toxic or dysfunctional culture. A strong foundation of trust is a huge cultural asset. A critical step to building trust is showing employees that you truly value and care for them. Other beneficial cultural elements include positive values, a commitment to excellence, open and honest communication, a sense of empowerment, flexibility, and compassion and respect for others.


Final thoughts. When considering creative ways to attract talent, be mindful of compliance risks and consult appropriate resources to keep your strategies compliant. Contemplate which recruiting and retention methods give you the biggest bang for your buck and are scalable. Lastly, consider the wisdom of Luke 6:31, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”




With thanks to Chrissy Watson for her contributions.


Photo credit: kate.sade on Unsplash


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