Why hiring over the Christmas period will give your business an advantage

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Source: Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash.

As a business owner, and especially in our current environment, my mind is constantly peaked in seeking competitive advantage. We are operating in unpredictable times, and being attuned to strategies and ideas to assist future success and growth, even if it’s just an edge, is worth considering. 

Coming out of the pandemic last year saw the start of a strong economic recovery, and, following our most recent lockdowns, forecasts indicate a rapid rebound as well as an expected ongoing strong growth rate of 4.5% for 2022. While at the beginning of 2021, the economic bounce back was a welcomed relief, many businesses did not expect to face difficulty in hiring staff. As we enter 2022, talent will remain constricted, and I anticipate an even tougher challenge ahead. 

Why, might you ask?

There are two factors at play. First, Australia has been suffering from a talent shortage for some time. With our ageing population exiting the workforce, our current birth rates are not at replacement level, with 3.54% in 1961 vs 1.66% as reported in 2019. If your hiring has been infrequent over the past few years, you may have not fully realised how acute the situation is.

Then COVID-19, which further exacerbated the situation, brought to the surface our talent crisis at an alarming speed. Immigration decreased sharply, and we saw a change in workforce attitude, with preferences for part-time and remote working and even people opting out of the job market. Job security also became a priority, resulting in a reluctance among some to leave jobs. 

For Australia, the result is a significantly reduced talent pool. If businesses are relying on talent acquisition as part of their growth strategy, we have a significant problem. 

A window of opportunity

My suggestion? Hire over the Christmas and New Year period!

Most businesses leave this time for precisely that — festivities, and why not? For a lot of businesses, it’s your ‘down time’. Instead, turn it into your ‘up time’. It’s a simple equation: fewer companies hiring increases your chances of securing talent.  

Traditionally, businesses have chosen not to hire over this period to save costs on the public holidays. In today’s market, the costs saved on not paying the public holidays are insignificant compared to the prolonged costs of an empty seat, or worse, the burnout from your team (and retention issues) caused by the additional workload, let alone the costs of dissatisfied customers not being looked after due to staff shortages. 

Consider hiring during this period as an investment, not a cost. 

If this is a quieter time in your business, it’s even more reason to consider hiring. Utilise this time for training, upskilling, onboarding and securing engagement, which is critical as a retention strategy. 

To fully benefit from the Christmas hiring strategy, consider the following: 

  • Know your value proposition. What people are seeking in a work environment now has all changed. Align with collective thinking and trends; flexibility in working hours, hybrid, reskilling or delivering greater meaning through a socially conscious business;
  • Writing a job advert. It is all about the person applying, so make it attractive. The purpose of the advert is to draw people in. Include the benefits and appealing aspects of the job and company. Avoid listing duties and tasks like a shopping list; 
  • Pay market salary and not below. Remember, it’s highly competitive, and you can bet the candidate interviewing with you is also interviewing elsewhere. If you decide to pay below the market, you may find yourself in the same situation in February, competing with everyone else and worse, because your job has been open for so long, it may be perceived as having something wrong with it; 
  • Be efficient. Don’t run a recruitment process with multiple interviews spaced over weeks just to justify a process. You may lose your first fabulous candidate. Know what good looks like, and don’t wait to benchmark; and
  • Compromise and be flexible. A cookie-cutter approach of matching resumes to job specifications doesn’t work anymore. Consider wildcard candidates and look for great attributes such as dependability, resilience, flexibility, and optimism matched with a wonderful attitude. 

Having a competitive advantage is a must in business. This Christmas period could provide an excellent opportunity to reshape your process and shift old habits, bringing more predictability in this unpredictable world.

A Christmas hiring strategy is a recruiter’s best-kept secret. Much like Santa’s little helpers, ‘tis the season to be jolly and recruiting! 

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