As companies move forward with recruitment, hiring, and retention strategies post-Great Resignation, there are notable changes that need to be made internally to sustain employee relations moving forward. Competition for labor may not be as steep now versus earlier this year, however the next challenge is perfecting how to encourage employee longevity from the start of hiring.
Operating our first center as new franchisees posed a learning curve – from managing employees to making sure all pieces were moving smoothly, it came with its own set of challenges. However, when it came time to open our second center in February of this year, a new challenge was posed that was outside of our control – the Great Resignation. We had to quickly pivot and assess what was working and what needed to change in order for our existing employees to remain passionate about their jobs and motivated to stay with Huntington as an employer under new workforce expectations.
So how can entrepreneurs reflect new expectations posed by the workforce in their business? Below are a few best practices to keep in mind.
1. Acknowledge that What Used to Work Won’t Cut It and Adapt
From interviewing and training to internal structure, what used to work like clockwork when business owners needed new employees isn’t going to cut it anymore. Start with the interview stage – re-upping your interview questions based on what values are now top priority for the brand and preparing to be asked more questions from prospective employees will set you up for success early on. With more value being placed on self-preservation now more than ever from today’s workforce, there are a few things to keep in mind when hiring. In addition to the sharing of expectations for pay and job responsibilities, the quality of work life that employees will have and what benefits, mentorship & support and professional development opportunities can be expected are essential to share.
For us, that meant being upfront about each of our open roles’ responsibilities, diving into what support employees are offered, and how their role fits into the overarching mission of Huntington to give each student the best education possible. Not only did we re-evaluate the roles that we were hiring for by looking at where the brand is now and where it’s headed, we also prepared a new list of potential FAQs that we could expect from people interviewing for the role. From interview materials to training timeline and team structure, changes must be made for the “new normal.” They’re essential to kickstart a strong employee relationship that results in a long-term role with the brand.
2. Hire for Support Roles that Cohesively Strengthen Lead Responsibilities + Provide Professional Advancement
In many cases with a high-functioning team, you can’t have one position without another – either as support to someone in a leadership role or additional employees as support for administrative and entry-level staff members. For administration and managerial roles, while functioning solo is possible, it’s not always sustainable. Creating a position that aligns with a high-level or strategic role as assistant, junior, etc. encourages both reasonable cadence of responsibilities and encourages internal professional development opportunities, which are enticing to employees.
For us, that meant taking the time to find and hire more core employees or ‘glue’ so that our existing staff wouldn’t be overwhelmed, and they’d see both the importance and potential of their role. We added a new administrative role, which meant some of pressure was taken off of the other managerial roles who were doing admin tasks at the same time. Adding new members to the team is one thing, but from there, encouraging involvement with managers and directors on strategy will let new employees see that their role is a part of making a difference in the future trajectory of the business, in turn, inspiring future advancement within the company.
3. Re-examine What Valued Employment Looks Like Within and Outside of the Company
A tale as old as time, valuing employees goes a long way to promote longevity in careers, but employee value looks different now more than ever. Material value now looks like hybrid or remote-work flexibility, regular bonuses or raises to account for the waxes and wanes of the economy, flex hours, and adjusted time off policies to name a few. When it comes to relational value, your employees have to see that what they’re doing has meaning for the business and outside of it too – making a difference and working toward something rather than just working for someone.
With Huntington having both online and in-person instruction, our employees maintain flexibility in their work destination schedule, and we are consistently reminding our employees of the value they bring to not only leadership, but to the students they’re helping every day. We are a business for the students first, and when that core value is not only spoken but felt by our employees, their relational value and desire to be a part of a purpose-driven business is fulfilled. Additionally, participating in community giveback as a team and providing an open space for communication, feedback and development within the team encourages the relational value. These actions address both material and tangible value and promote career longevity at the same time.
If your business has had luck with hiring after being hit by a wave of mass exoduses earlier this year, that’s a great thing! But now it’s time to put in the work on focusing on strategies for employee longevity, and shifting initial hiring and training practices to encourage that from the start.
Boris and Viola Feld are a father-daughter franchisee duo who own two Huntington Learning Center franchises on the East Coast. Compared to retail and hospitality industries who took the hardest hit during the Great Resignation, already scarce teams at tutoring businesses felt the effects a bit differently. With Viola’s experience starting at Huntington as an employee years ago and building up to multi-unit ownership with the brand, combined with the fact that the duo opened their second center in February 2022 in the midst of the hiring exodus – the entrepreneurs were forced to adjust hiring, retention, and internal strategies to keep up with their own changing workforce.