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Retention tension: is work forever or is it a gig?

retention tensionIf you read much recruiting and HR press (like I do), you inevitably run into something odd: there seems to be retention tension between what employers do and say. On the one hand, there are tons of articles extolling the gig economy (maybe it will be 50% of the labor force by 2020, maybe more?). In this brave new world, employees are disposable and eminently replaceable, switches that you can turn off and on with the flip of a recruiting switch.

On the other hand, in many articles, employees are the foundation of an employer’s success – to be retained, nourished, and encouraged. Do they want better benefits? Give them some! More vacation? You bet. Pay equity? Of course!

This is an employer issue, you say. It’s retention tension. Not a problem for recruitment marketing sites.

Umm, no. Actually, this is a problem for us. Think about it. Your job is to connect candidates to employers. But if 30% of your employer clients are looking for short-term, no-strings-attached ‘giggers’, and the other 70% are looking for ‘long term relationships’, you are faced with an interesting marketing challenge: attracting both giggers and long-termers. These two groups of candidates – while having some cross over – are in the job hunt for different purposes. That means they will be attracted by different things.

Obviously, if you’re a site that caters 100% to giggers, you don’t have this challenge. But most sites and services don’t fall into that category. They have clients with a variety of needs. And if they don’t successfully connect enough candidates to those employers…well, they will join the recruiting deadpool.

What can you do? Well, first of all: know your employer. This should really go without saying, but nonetheless, I’m saying it! Ask them the question: what kind of employee are you hiring for? Long-term or short-term? What’s the mix of long-term vs. short-term in your annual hiring mix? And why is your organization attractive to either type of candidate?

Next, adjust your own marketing accordingly. Maybe you use certain channels and tactics exclusively (or primarily) for certain employers or job titles. Maybe you create specific services that target giggers exclusively (and, of course, charge for them!). Maybe – and this may sound horrifying – you just say no. Both you and I know that you can’t fill every job an employer throws your way. If you’re a tech site, you’re not going to do well with on-demand diesel mechanics. So fess up! Remember that honesty is also a credibility builder with your clients.

Remember – clarity helps both the candidates and the employers – whether it’s a long-term relationship or a 1-day gig. Avoid retention tension. Make sure you understand what’s going on!

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. I think retention will be the next big thing in our industry. Reimagine the way you use matching. If you are able to spot that your key employees match better to competing positions in the market and why, you can start with targeted activities to retain top talent in your organization.

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