Hiring in the New Normal: Balancing Employer and Employee Needs
As an entrepreneur, every person you hire has the potential to impact your vision. So choosing the right people and onboarding them well is crucial to keeping your company culture intact and your team on the same page.
Now, in the wake of a worldwide pandemic and the Great Resignation, finding the right people and bringing them into the fold is even more challenging.
Employers have been forced to reconsider long-standing policies on how, when, and where work can be performed. And employees have realized that they ought to be treated like humans — rather than commodities, numbers, or resumes.
So, for a hiring decision to work out for both employer and employee, leaders have to consider the needs (and wants) of both sides.
Who Do You Want?
First, figure out what you need from the candidate who will become part of your team. What’s most important to look for?
Of course, they must have the skills to do the job, whether it requires specialized or general knowledge, years of management experience, or a few intensive weeks in a coding bootcamp. The requirements for each job will be different, and you probably won’t have trouble figuring out what those are.
But what else should you be screening for? What soft skills and attitudes are important to you as a leader? And what proclivities does the candidate have that might mesh well (or not) with your existing team?
Talents and Traits
Are there specific talents the person should have to have to fill a need on your team? For example, do you need an organizational superstar to whip documentation into shape? Do you have a bunch of idea people and no one to execute, or a bunch of contributors who need someone to take charge?
Then there are traits common to all good employees, like motivation and creativity. YEC member Mario Peshev, CEO of DevriX, says, “We hire for motivation, culture fit and skills — in this order.” Putting motivation first is one way to find employees who will give you their best. Mario also looks at candidates’ coachability, time management, and organizational skills. YEC member Leila Lewis, CEO of Be Inspired PR, suggests several more things to look for, including loyalty, inventiveness, and a social media presence with no red flags.
Make your own list, and keep it close when evaluating candidates.
Culture Fit and Inclusion
Culture fit is a hot topic for entrepreneurs. It’s important to find people who get the vibe of your business, who can work well with your existing team. It’s equally important to welcome folks who aren’t exactly like you.
It’s common for a founder to start by hiring and partnering with friends, which is great. But remember, it’s also common for your friends to be a lot like you. If everyone you hire thinks like you, you’re missing out on the wealth of knowledge you could be getting from people who complement your perspective and talent. Look for a diverse mix of people — and by diverse, we’re not talking only about race. What does a neurodivergent candidate bring to the table? What do people from different generations have to offer?
Culture fit doesn’t need to mean people just like you. It means people who fit into your company’s vibe. To figure out what that is, make a list of the personality traits of strong employees on your team. Think of individuals, and exactly what makes them fit in. Do you see a pattern? Funny? Respectful? High-energy? Laid-back? Look for new folks who share those qualities.
What Do They Want?
Once you know what you want and need in an employee, it’s time to make sure you’re providing what the candidates are looking for. Topping the list is compensation, followed immediately by several measures of flexibility (like company location/convenient access and work-life balance measures) and company culture.
Yes. People want to get paid, and paid well. Are your salaries in line with industry pay scales? If you’re a small company who can’t compete with huge established ones, do you have stock options? What you pay your people translates into how valued they feel, so make sure you’re addressing this key issue.
Since the pandemic proved that working remotely is a viable option for most knowledge jobs, employees have been empowered to expect flexibility they haven’t had — or haven’t had consistently — before.
In most cases, flexibility discussions revolve around work location (remote, on-site, or hybrid), employment models (full-time, part-time, freelance, or contractor), and schedule (9-5, asynchronous, or somewhere in between). Which of these options do you offer your team? If you’re still on the “9-5 on-site full-time only” train, you’re falling behind the times.
It’s a given that the types of flexibility you are able offer depend on the type of work your team does. But YEC member Matt Doyle, VP and co-founder of Excel Builders, points out that “nearly all businesses can manage more flexibility in some way. My business, for example, is all done on outside sites. So, while I can’t offer my employees work-from-home, I can at least move meetings online so that we don’t need to be in the home office as much.” In addition to flexibility, Matt recommends autonomy and a less stressful work environment to attract and keep skilled workers.
As you work to incorporate flexible options, remember to keep your benefits program strong. People still want solid healthcare, 401k matching, reasonable time off, and so on.
YEC member Tom Finn, CEO and founder of LeggUP, says “The main motivation for expanding employee benefits was and is to attract and retain top workers. In today’s modern and diverse workforce, it’s about prioritizing well-being so employees are happy, productive, and engaged.”
Remember that just as you’re looking to get the best employee you can, candidates are shopping for the best employer. A strong benefits package can help your company make a strong case for being a person’s best choice.
Finally, culture fit is as important to the prospective employee as it is to the employer. From the candidate perspective, they want to know if your company is a place (physical or virtual) where they want to spend most of their waking hours.
If you want to supercharge your company culture to attract and retain the best talent, check out our “The Young Entrepreneur’s Ultimate Checklist: Building a Company Culture That Supports Your Vision.” It offers actionable steps to make 19 upgrades to the way your team experiences life within your business.
When hiring in today’s vastly changed business climate, a smart leader absolutely must consider both sides of the equation. Figure out what you need, and then figure out what your potential employees need. Address both, and you’ll soon have a loyal and dedicated team.