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Job Tryouts and More Ideas to Retain Talent in Today's Labor Market

June 26, 2018


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18-year low. That's the rate that unemployment has reached in the past 12 months. It seems like it's all we're all talking about; employers all over the United States continue to struggle to find, attract, and retain top talent. These challenges have encouraged hiring managers and recruiters to think outside the box and implement strategies with unknown consequences and outcomes, some of which clients would never consider prior to this time. Here are three strategies the current economy has promoted our clients to try:

1. Job Tryouts

The facts are clear: it’s a candidate’s market. Candidates have lots of choices and if they’ve given any indication they may not have an interest in doing the work your job has to offer, there is a good chance they will leave to work elsewhere. Thus, on top of hiring process activities already structured to assess whether someone will be satisfied with a job (e.g., assessments, realistic job previews), some organizations are having candidates “try out” for the job.

A "job tryout" involves partaking in job tasks required by the job in the actual environment of the job for a certain period of time. This allows candidates to get a good idea of what their work life will be like and to encourage natural selection in or out of the application process. If a candidate self identifies that the job isn't a good fit for them, turnover rates will decrease and your hiring team can spend more time focusing on identifying quality candidates who are a good fit for the job.

2. Shift Scheduling

As we know, negative consequences of the tight labor market can include an increase in employee absences, tardiness, and turnover. Let’s face it, if you know that you can get a job next door to the company you're currently working at, for a few bucks more and with better benefits, would you take it? If the company next door also didn’t require you to work swing shifts or 12-hour shifts, would you take it? For many, the lure of extra money and more desirable shifts would be enough to leave their current job regardless of how long they’ve been working for their current company (and maybe even without two-weeks’ notice!).

Some manufacturers are considering allowing their employees to schedule their own shifts – somewhat on a first come first serve basis. Employers feel this allows flexibility and encourages commitment when the employee is making their own schedule. Some have even considered job sharing, even further providing the benefit of flexibility.

Related: How to be an Employer of Choice: 4 Strategies

3. After School Programs

Although targeting the younger generations isn’t necessarily ground breaking in terms of fighting our nation’s current skills gap, the idea of targeting high school students as early as ninth grade to come into plants, have them partake in certain tasks regularly (i.e., those that comply with FLSA), and encourage engagement throughout the remainder of their high school career. The mindset around skilled labor has shifted significantly, for the better, over the past few years. Taking initiatives to target generation Z such as having manufacturing leaders/mentors come into schools to speak about the benefits of working in skilled labor or manufacturing could have positive outcomes on your hiring goals in the years to come.

There are certainly things you should not change about your hiring process despite the current labor market, but taking some time to reevaluate and optimize your process can help you meet your needs. As the perfect storm (low unemployment, high job growth, and a skills gap) continues to brew, these strategies can be used across industries to efficiently and effectively find, hire, and retain quality candidates.

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Lindsey Burke Lindsey Burke is a Senior Consultant based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. She is largely responsible for client support and managing clients in industries including manufacturing, sales, and healthcare. Lindsey completed her M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Xavier University and earned a B.A. and B.S. in Psychology from Kent State University.