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Simon Says: Here’s the latest numbers on recruitment and retention

I am looking forward to the Augusta Business Daily Conference and Expo on Wednesday. As a primer for the recruitment and retention panel discussion at 11 a.m., I wanted to provide statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on recruitment and retention.

By far, the most popular strategy for recruiting is higher pay, with 7.1 percent of firms in Georgia and 7.6 percent of firms in South Carolina using this strategy. Offering higher pay is the most popular choice across all industries. The next most popular strategy is expanded advertising. In Georgia, 5.2 percent of firms have used this strategy and 4.5 percent of firms in South Carolina. Two-point four percent of firms in Georgia and 3 percent of firms in South Carolina have expanded their use of recruiting or talent agencies. Other strategies include hiring bonuses, offering more hours, reduced qualifications, and expanded benefits, but generally, only 1-2 percent of firms have used one of these strategies.

Not surprisingly, less than one percent of firms have expanded remote or telework. Three years after the pandemic, this is no longer a strategy that will set your firm apart. It is now expected in many industries. Surprisingly, to me at least, only about 10 percent of firms have tried at least one of the above strategies. Given the labor shortage, I would have expected this number to be higher. Admittedly, in accommodations and food service, it is almost one in four businesses. Maybe firms are using strategies the BLS did not ask about, such as word of mouth.

Moving on to retention, the BLS published quit rates for Georgia and South Carolina. Over the last two to three years, quit rates have been elevated, with 3-4 percent of workers quitting their jobs each month. These rates are above the national average of 2.9 percent. Retail, leisure, and hospitality industries tend to have the highest quit rates.

So, how to retain quality employees? Workers desire good pay, meaningful work, and recognition, but perks can be influential at the margin. The Economist identified some good and bad ideas in a recent article. Start with the bad: If you are still thinking about work from home and on-site perks, such as snack bars, are perks you have missed in the changing employment market over the last three years. My sister-in-law’s company now offers unlimited time off, but research suggests workers actually take less holiday than if there were strict paid time off days.

You may think asking employees what they want is a good idea, but you may be surprised by their answers (hangover leave anyone?). So, what works? Perks that reinforce your company culture and are motivating to the widest group of employees. Try seasonal perks. Again, my sister-in-law gets Friday afternoons off in the summer. Like the limited-time McRib from Mcdonald’s, scarcity creates appreciation.

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