Talent Acquisition Teams Plan to Increase Spend on These 6 Things in 2019

January 7, 2019

With quit rates at an all time high and more open jobs than unemployed people, it's safe to say competition for talent isn't going to get lighter anytime soon. Because of that, many companies are increasing spending in several key areas of talent acquisition in order to attract top talent, as Criteria Corp found in its 2018 Pre-Employment Testing Benchmark Report.

The report, which surveyed 350+ hiring professionals at companies of all sizes, provides an interesting peek into business priorities in 2019 and beyond. As the graph below reveals, companies anticipate increasing their financial investment in numerous initiatives designed to improve the hiring process and boost retention — with only 2% of respondents saying they expect to reduce spending in these areas.

Below are the top six areas of talent acquisition in which companies expect to increase their spending — and some helpful tips to help you meet your goals in these areas, too.

1. Maintaining a strong employer brand: 44% of companies are investing even more in their image

A strong employer brand helps attract great candidates, but you’ve got to put in the work before it will do the heavy lifting for you. And even after you’ve built your stellar brand, the hard work isn’t over — it’s crucial that you make it stick. This explains why almost half the companies surveyed say they’re investing more in maintaining a strong employer brand.

As recruiting expert Ed Nathanson says, “It’s about dedication.” To build a successful and lasting employer brand, he recommends strategies like building a year-long content posting schedule for sharing your culture and values on social media. This takes a fair amount of effort, but all the effort you put in will ultimately pay out in spades.

Another powerful tactic you can use is turning existing employees into brand ambassadors. Learning about your culture firsthand from someone who lives it every day can be far more meaningful for candidates than hearing buzzwords from a faceless corporation. So let the people talk, whether it’s posting on your company blog or taking over your Instagram feed.

Whatever strategy you take, keep it authentic, do your homework to gauge what aspects candidates are responding to most, and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. The best employer brands are built with heart — with a little humor thrown in for good measure.

2. Fostering career development: 44% of companies plan to do more to help employees reach their goals

With attrition at its highest rate since 2001, boosting employee retention is high on many companies’ to-do lists. That might explain why fostering career development is a top priority for many, with 44% saying they plan to spend more in this area in the future.

Helping employees grow and develop their careers doesn’t just dissuade them from looking for opportunities elsewhere. It also builds loyalty and increases job satisfaction, making them more inclined to follow their career path at your company. After all, you’ve shown them you’re as invested in their success as they are.

The first step to supporting career development is helping employees figure out their path within the company. This is especially valuable for younger hires who may still be figuring out what they want their career to look like, but employees of all ages can benefit from guidance, motivation, and support.

Consider pairing employees with senior mentors who can talk them through the different trajectories they might take and the kind of opportunities that will support their professional growth. For example, someone working in a senior position may be able to recommend the type of projects a lower-level employee should gravitate towards to achieve their goals, based on what they found most beneficial to their own career.

A support system like this is also self-sustaining, since employees who benefited from it may be even more eager to support the next generation of staff. For more tips about building training into this model, skip to part five.

3. Finding high-quality candidates: 43% of companies expect to spend more to improve their pipeline

It might sound like a no-brainer, but finding high-quality candidates is another area in which companies plan to invest more. For many, that involves building extra quality checks into the hiring process.

Criteria found that 82% of companies use some form of pre-employment tests to improve their quality of hire. The majority (40%) test candidates after the initial resume screening, while 30% use tests at the very top of their funnel, during the application process.

There are lots of assessment tools and tactics you can use to ensure candidates are a great fit for the job. For example, many companies have adopted job auditions that simulate the kind of work a new hire would be doing everyday, giving them a clear picture of what the candidate would be like on the job. This can be as simple as watching them perform a certain task during the interview process, or even bringing them in for a paid trial day.

Writing better job descriptions and proactively hunting for referrals can also help you improve the quality of candidates entering your pipeline — and lead to better hires.

4. Cultivating a positive work environment: 42% of companies are putting more money where their culture is

You’ve probably heard this bleak statistic before, but it’s worth repeating: 51% of U.S. employees are not engaged at work. And since culture is a core driver of engagement, it’s no wonder that 42% of companies plan to spend more to cultivate a positive work environment.

Of course, this can mean different things to different companies. For some, it might involve offering meaningful perks that make employees excited to come in each day, from on-site yoga to free breakfast, or even a designated napping spot. Some companies even allow people to choose their own perks, showing they’re tuned in to what their employees actually want.

Another way to create a more positive work environment is to help people find purpose in their work. Whether it’s showing employees the good their work does in the world or building a volunteering program that they can get involved in, purpose breeds positivity, boosting engagement, retention, and morale.

Ultimately, though, it all comes down to the same thing: creating an environment in which employees can truly thrive. Engaging work environments are built on a foundation of trust, belonging, and shared values. With these cornerstones in place, you’re off to a great start.

5. Optimizing employee training programs: 42% of companies will invest more to keep their skill base up-to-date

More than two in five employers (42%) say they anticipate spending more to optimize their employee training programs, and it’s easy to see why. Hiring and upskilling lower-level workers can be cheaper and less challenging than finding a candidate with all the skills on your wish list. Training also plays a crucial role in supporting career development, providing employees the resources they need to take the next step toward achieving their goals.

There are probably people within your company already who can act as teachers and gurus. The trick is turning their expertise into scalable, evergreen training materials, because they probably don’t have time to coach every employee one-on-one.

Involve your experts in the content-creation discussion to find out what they’re most comfortable with, whether it’s writing a training manual or recording short webinars that employees can access whenever they want. And if there are skills you’re not sure how to teach in-house, consider investing in online courses like those offered on LinkedIn Learning.

6. Making the hiring process more efficient: 42% of companies will spend more to streamline recruiting

For many companies, hiring can take anywhere from a few weeks to months. And with competition for talent as tight as it is, a lengthy time to hire just doesn’t cut it. That may explain why 42% of companies intend to increase spending to make their hiring process more efficient.

Efficiency isn’t just about beating your competitors to the punch. A smooth and streamlined process also improves the candidate experience — and can save you money in the long run.

Start by gathering metrics about how much time you take on each part of the process to identify where your bottlenecks lie — then look for ways around them. It might be as simple as improving scheduling or cutting out unnecessary extra steps, like holding four interviews when two would do the trick.

These aspects of talent acquisition are high-priority for many companies. You might have your sights set on improving in other areas. But whatever your goals, a solid strategy is what will steer you towards success in 2019.

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